Debbie Strowbridge

About me:
My background is in fashion, as a designer running a medium sized fashion company for 20 years. Through most of those years I was also a governor and then Chair.

I was accredited as a National Leader of Governance in February 2014, after a substantial amount of years as a governor and at least 10 years as a Chair of Governors. I was encouraged to apply for the accreditation after leading governance through a successful Ofsted Inspection where, in collaboration with the Senior Leadership Team, our Ofsted judgement improved from good to outstanding.

In May 2016 I was asked to Chair a replacement governing body (quasi IEB) convened by the LA, for a school under threat of academisation. An Academy leadership team supported the school at this point and parents were extremely angered by this arrangement (this was quite political, 3,000 signatures presented to the Local Authority by parents). One of the greatest challenges for the governing board was after the Academy Leadership Team left in July. With no leadership in place except for governors, we needed to appoint a new dynamic & effective leadership team by the September; which we did.

Children’s outcomes were significantly improved within a year and a new governing board was put in place. Effective school governance was confirmed by an external review, more recently our Ofsted inspection in March 2018 to everyone’s delight, improved to good.

Recently, I have been appointed to the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s Learning Partnership, which is an autonomous board that sits outside the current education network and has the freedom to address the issues it sees as a priority for the borough.

I have a strong interest in the current, ever changing educational landscape, using that information to plan for the future in the best ways to improve our children’s lifelong chances.

Governance experience:

  • Chair of Governors at George Tomlinson Primary School
  • Chair of Governors at the Opossum Federation
  • Requested by Deputy Chief Executive (Waltham Forest) to Chair a replacement governing body (quasi IEB)
  • Requested by LA to complete a Review of Governing Body Services
  • Requested by LA to sit on various panels including ill-health hearings, disciplinaries, and parental complaints.
  • Worked in partnership with LA to develop governance capacity & expertise in identified schools
  • Restructuring School Group including Pay
  • Supporting transition to Federations
  • Safeguarding lead in two schools
  • Headteacher Performance Management
  • Headteacher Appointments
  • SLT Appointments

NLG experience:

Where working practices for a chair, Headteacher need developing

Coaching and Mentoring CoGs

LA in appointing the Director of Learning

New CoGs in developing their leadership role, setting strategic vision, ensuring challenge and support to the Headteacher/Executive Head.

Where attainment is below the current minimum standards set by the government

External Reviews of Governance and supporting schools after review to implement recommendations

Working with CoG and governing boards to become ‘Ofsted-ready’

Modeling Governance (within GBM)

‘I know that the Chair found your set of possible Ofsted interview questions a helpful structure for his preparations.’ LA Director of Education

‘Let me add my thanks for your skillful input and Schools Improvement for making that possible. I really don’t know how things would be going without your help with Ofsted.’

‘I used your questions and spreadsheet as a preparation for Ofsted and circulated to the Governors who were able to attend the Ofsted interview.’ Chair of Governors of Maintained School.

As an NLG working with SLT and heavily supporting the Chair and Governors, the school was accredited an Ofsted grade Good from  Requires Improvement in March 18

1. Strategic Leadership 5. Compliance
Creating a shared vision, ethos and strategic direction Understanding the regulatory framework for governance
Strategic planning for schools and boards Compliance with the Academy Financial Handbook
Strategic financial leadership Readiness for Ofsted
Strategic HR leadership Effective Safeguarding
Strategic business leadership Strategic leadership of SEND and inclusion
Leading change management Strategic leadership of Pupil Premium and provision for disadvantaged pupils
Stakeholder engagement & communication Data management and GDPR
Managing and prioritising risks Health and Safety responsibilities
Equality responsibilities
Investigations, panels and appeals
2. Accountability 6. Evaluation
Strategic Leadership of school improvement External Reviews of Governance
Creating accountability structures, SMART targets and KPIs MAT Health Checks
Planning and leading strategic monitoring Reviews of LGBs
Presenting and analysing data Skills audits and action planning
Triangulation, benchmarking and holding to account Facilitated governance self-reviews
Headteacher performance management Performance Management of Chairs
Monitoring of staff performance management Governor appraisals
CEO performance management
Chair performance management
Complaint investigation and management
3. People 7. Other areas of expertise
Team leadership Leading governance networks
Recruiting and retaining the governance team Developing governor training
Succession planning Delivering governor training
Creating a team culture Developing governance support materials
Expectation setting and conduct
Holding the governance team to account
Creating a governance development plan
Relationship management
Conflict management
Meeting management
4. Structures 8. NLG Training Completed
Governance team organisation, processes and structures – constitutions, terms of reference, role profiles NLG induction
Creating a scheme of delegation Essential deployment skills
Governance in a Local Governing Body Power of Coaching
Trust board governance External Review of Governance
Forming a Trust board Governance leadership programme (DfE)
Forming a MAT
Joining a MAT
Governance in Federations