We are writing to you following the letter from the Headmistress dated 15th November 2011 in which she, amongst other matters, discussed the governance of the School.A few things here worth noting.
The Trustees have confirmed the appointment of the incumbent Governors. The Governors are:-
Professor A.P. Hemingway (Chair)
Dr. M. Barnard
Professor G. Bennett
Mrs. F. Carey
Deacon A Clark
Dr. M. Dowling-Brannigan
Mrs. A. Kendall
Mrs. C. Phillips
We confirm that the first priority, led by the appointments sub-committee of the Governing Body and TES (Times Educational Supplement), is to continue the search for a new Head Teacher of the highest calibre.
The Governors, with the unreserved support of the Trustees, are committed, with appropriate advice and assistance, to review and update where necessary the Instrument of Government to ensure it provides effective transparent and accountable governance. This process will commence immediately. Amongst other objectives, it is hoped that this will prevent the recurrence of the difficulties recently experienced in the relationship between Governors and Trustees.
The Diocese of Westminster, although not having any direct involvement in the School’s governance, has also pledged its support and assistance.
We are committed to build on the School’s undoubted achievements, to continue and build on that success and to support the dedicated and professional Staff in providing education of the highest quality to the Pupils.
Professor Anne Hemingway
Chairman of Governors
Chairman of the Trustees
Mrs Catherine Wilson
Acting Headmistress Elect
First, whoever was behind the attempt to oust the governors has been decisively defeated, both in terms of the governors' continued presence and in the acknowledgement of the need to review the governance arrangements. All the governors are back in place.
Second, the governors seem to have regained control over the process of appointing the new headteacher.
Third, this outcome appears to have the support of the diocese.
Fourth, it is interesting to note whose signature is absent from the email!
There have been comments on previous articles concerning the past willingness of the governors simply to go along with what Mrs Gumley Mason requested. That criticism can be made of their past behaviour. I'm not sure that it is entirely fair: if they genuinely believed that Mrs Gumley Mason's proposals were in the interest of the school, then it is reasonable for them to accept them. And it is normally a reasonable assumption that a headteacher's proposals are both well-informed and in the interests of the school he or she is head of.
However, since the publication of the ISI report, it seems to me that the governors have recently shown appropriate degrees of independence and professionalism and have managed to get to grips with the difficult situation resulting from the ISI's criticisms, Mrs Gumley Mason's subsequent announcement of her retirement and other recent events. So, whatever criticisms there may be of their past approach, it seems to me that their present approach is clearly working in the interest of the school. And that is what matters the most right now.
I suspect that there has been a whole lot of work going on in the background which hasn't been communicated in parent emails and other public communications. As far as possible, I suggest that the governors communicate more of this background work to the parents. Sorting out the appointment of the new head and the various other issues facing the school is a complex task, and the parents are going to be greatly reassured by open communication of the work that is going on. If it turns out that some task is taking longer than expected because of some unanticipated difficulty, then it is better for the parents to be told so they can understand the issues. The trust of the parents in the school has taken a battering over the last few months and an implemented policy of openness and transparency on the part of the governors can do more than anything else to earn that trust back.