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GGA AGM 17th July - Further information

I am pleased to report that the majority of personal responses to my last message have been positive and encouraging, and I now have a few volunteers for the committee but we still need a few more so please come forward and volunteer if you can. The more we have the less work there will be for each of us! I will say more about what is involved during the meeting but the annual time commitment need not be that great.

TIMING: The formal AGM will commence at 18:30 and should be finished by 19:30, but members are encouraged to arrive from 18:00 and mingle in the coffee bar where tea and coffee will be available. In particular I would like to meet with any volunteers for the committee between 18.00 and 18:30.

I will wear my two school governor tags to make me easy to identify.

LOCATION: The precise location is @Theedge Community Centre, Typhoon Way, Brockworth GL3 4DY. Google Maps.

The building is adjacent to and to the right-hand side of Coopers Edge School.

PARKING: Car park space is limited so if you are able to car share please do so but there should be plenty of nearby on street parking in the local area. There is a small car park at the front and the school staff car park at the rear of the main school building will be open to members. If the car parks are full there is plenty of on road parking in the local area.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As you approach the school you will see a road sign suggesting that you may not drive past the school (buses only) but that does not apply if you are going into the school car park. However do not attempt to drive any further - turn around and go back as access beyond that point is policed by cameras.

GGA AGM 17th July at Coopers Edge School, Brockworth, Gloucester

This will be a very significant and important meeting as it could signal the end of the Association. That need not be the case, but whether or not it does will be up to you, the members. Click here for the AGENDA. Click here for the Accounts.

What follows will form the foundation of my report as Chairman:
The Association has existed in its present form since 2004 and in recent years its main function seems to have been to provide periodical training and education meetings for members - usually at Shire Hall, enhanced by various high profile speakers and governance experts.

At this point I should make one thing very clear; it has been suggested to me that some schools and their GBs are under the impression that the Association is in fact an operational arm of the Local Authority and that it provides a service to its members via that office. That is not the case. The Association has always had a very close working relationship with the L.A. and there is a clear synergy between the two, but the Association is simply a formal association of school governors; nothing more. And it relies entirely on school governors being willing to run and administer it. Running it is not a function of the L.A.

You may or may not have noticed that the Association has been pretty much dormant since the cancellation of the conference in November due to lack of support. In view of the about turn in government policy over MATs the sudden lack of interest in what had until then been a hot conference topic was understandable. But since then only one person has contacted us to ask about meetings. It would appear that apart from that one person no-one has missed us at all!

Following on from that a significant number of long standing executive committee members stood down over the last few months for various and individually different reasons. Most of them had indicated their intention to do so some time before the conference was scheduled.

By the time the County conference at the racecourse took place in February we were down to four committee members, one - but only one - of whom had been recruited in response to the appeal for new members at the last AGM. The fact that only one person was willing to come forward at the AGM, and one other expressed interest after a further appeal at the February conference left us taking a long hard look at where the Association is going or should go in the future.

In fact at the time of writing this only two of the original executive at last year's AGM remain in post – myself and Sue Padfield. And in my case I only joined the committee the previous year so I am myself a relatively new arrival.

The conference we organised in 2015 was, we thought, very successful and we had hoped to repeat that success in 2016 but it was not to be. And over the last couple of years I think it is fair to say that numbers attending some of our general meetings, and especially the AGMs have been fairly discouraging. Last year's AGM in particular was only attended by about 20 non-executive members out of a membership of approximately 340+ schools in the county.

All this has led myself and Sue to ask ourselves whether there is a need or a demand for our continued existence. I have to say that everyone we have had contact with at the County Education department feels strongly that we are needed, relevant and of value. But do you and your GBs feel the same? If so, we need at least four, and preferably six or more of you to step up and join the executive to ensure the survival of the Association. Our constitution originally envisaged up to sixteen “officers”– yes, you read that right - sixteen!

I am willing to stand for re-election as Chair and Sue Padfield is willing to remain as hon treasurer to act as a catalyst to lead a completely new committee, but we would both be equally happy to be opposed by alternative candidates. That alone would be an encouraging indication that the Association is valued by its members. But if there are not enough new members joining the executive, then soon after the AGM I am likely to call a Special Meeting to move for our dissolution. So our future survival is in your hands.

If the support is there, and we continue to exist, then decisions need to be made about what we should be doing – what the membership wants and what we feel we can or should offer. I do not think that it will profit us much to debate that at length at the AGM although it will definitely help to receive some ideas and broad discussion from the floor. But the choices must be made by a new, enlarged, and hopefully rejuvenated committee after the AGM. Before it can do so it may need to conduct a survey of the members to find out how the Association can best serve the local governance community. Neither Sue nor myself is willing or able to do this ourselves in isolation.

For what it is worth my personal view is that the old format of occasional meetings with speakers, useful though they are, may now be past its sell by date. We have other sources of training and education readily available to us via for example L.A. sponsored training courses and W.U.G coupled with the deep and comprehensive resources and services offered by the L.A and the NGA. I cannot see any value in duplicating those.

With that in mind my personal view is that we may be more valuable and effective facilitating more cross communication between governors, both individually and as full boards; sharing practices and ideas, and perhaps becoming more of a local political lobby group.

I will close by setting out as bullet points a precis of some of the aims of the Association in its constitution and leave it to you to decide if they are what you want, what you are willing and able to do to pursue them from now on, and by what methods those aims should be achieved:

  1. Promote collaboration between schools in order to raise standards and make effective use of resources
  2. Act as a forum for the exchange of information relating to the needs and interests of Gloucestershire schools
  3. Organise events and representation in support of governors' needs and those of its schools and pupils
  4. Act as a representative forum .......pressing the Local Authority for action where required
  5. Act as a consultative body alongside other organisations
  6. Provide a network for sharing information and good practice
  7. Monitor the changing role and needs of governors .....and ( be proactive ) in ensuring changes are challenged and/or supported

It is your association. It is time to decide what you want to do with it.

And finally – if you are unable to attend the AGM but wish your voice and opinions to be heard I urge you to send me your thoughts by e-mail so that they can be made known to the meeting.

Chris Widden – GGA Chair

The website has been temporarily restricted pending the AGM and will be reconstructed after the AGM.

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