Norfolk Governance Network’s first virtual conference held on 10th October was as one delegate noted “really useful and very uplifting” the uplifting part, perhaps needs some explaining.
The theme was Resetting Governance, vital for this unsettling time. The conference brought governors, trustees and clerks from all parts of Norfolk together for a common agenda, to pause, reset and move forward positively for the children and young people in our county.
NGN’s Chair, Anne Gibson welcomed Keynote Speakers, Paul Brooker, East of England Director for Ofsted and Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk’s Director of Public Health. They were joined by Chris Snudden, Director of Learning & Inclusion for the many governor questions.
Paul Brooker’s timely talk about Ofsted visits and reset inspection plans was considered reassuring and an important insight for governors. It was also very good to hear the questions from governors who were concerned about Headteacher wellbeing, particularly at this time, this was echoed by Paul.
As with previous face to face conferences, a choice of breakout sessions was offered, a Norfolk Area SEND session led by Chris Snudden provided governors with an update on the ongoing work for children and young people with SEND in Norfolk. Finance and the current challenges was the topic of a popular session led by Sarah Shirras, Chair of the School Forum. Our National Governance Association colleagues Steve Edmunds, Director of Advice and Guidance and Rani Kaur, Head of Advice spoke about the importance of Professional Clerking. The final session covered the development of Digital School Health Profiles for Norfolk led by Fay Spencer from Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust.
Following an interactive governance discussion, Dr Louise Smith delivered a strong talk about Covid-19, about the virus, why social distancing is important and the response from Norfolk Public Health. Key for governors was the impact on our schools and how this affects children and young people. Following several months of debate, Louise spoke about why schools needed to stay open and the importance of robust risk assessments. An important takeaway for governors was the need to ensure that staff interactions were considered carefully in the risk assessments to reduce any potential staff to staff Covid-19 transmission.
The event finished with Norfolk Governance Network’s AGM, Anne Gibson spoke about the challenges of this year, the results from the recent governor survey which related to NGN and the work carried out this year by those on the NGN committee. Anne shared “As the coronavirus outbreak continues to present unprecedented challenges for us all, across all aspects of our lives, thank you to all school governors and trustees for your continuing support of our education system in Norfolk, over the last few months when education establishments have been under immense pressure.” There was also a request for new members of the county committee, head to the NGN website to get in touch – www.ngn.org.uk/contact-us Finally, as the early feedback received was so positive about the format of the conference, NGN will be offering future virtual governor briefing events. You can connect with NGN via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook @NGNORGUK.
NGN are adding the Conference presentations and video to their website www.ngn.org.uk/events so for governors who could not make it, or who wished to see one of the other sessions, this will be made available shortly.
Thank you to all speakers, delegates, Norfolk County Council, our colleagues at Educator Solutions, Educate Norfolk and the Diocese of Norwich, our technical support team and to the NGN committee team. As to the reason the event was uplifting, Dr Louise Smith spoke about “our collective effort” and that message came across loud and clear from the conference, governors and trustees across Norfolk working together with all in Education and Governor Services and with the leadership teams within their schools, to not only reset governance but to strengthen it and deliver on our core governance roles.