ESFA Council Response to The Review Group Recommendations.
The ESFA Council took on board the recommendations of the review group. Council agreed to consider all 17 recommendations without ever committing to implement any or all of the said points. The recommendations have been on the Agenda of every Council meeting and various members of Council have been tasked to study and report on some of the various recommendations.
As Chairman I can report on the state of play at the current time. The findings of the group have provided a focus for Council and implementation and discussion will continue on some of the points for the foreseeable future.
1 That General Rule 5 be amended
This rule was changed at the AGM in 2011.
2 That representation on Council is four members from each of the four Regions rather than the present two per Area.
A rule change in 2011 also allowed this to occur. The above two recommendations should be kept under review for the foreseeable future. The difficulty of serving teachers being released from school could cause problems in the future. Two new Council members, Owen Aiston and Shane Kiely, have been recruited and Council are seeking to fill the two remaining vacancies.
3 That a Group be set up, possibly with co-opted members and an independent Chairman (or Improvement Partner in the manner of schools), to maintain an overview of the Association.
This recommendation has been a major focus of discussion. Neil Pont and Barry Shackley presented papers to Council on their vision of the role. Council have taken on board the idea of an Independent Council Member and will discuss a person specification before presenting to membership at the Annual General Meeting. Peter Jordan was asked on his views regarding an increase in the role of the auditors.
Since 2003 the role undertaken by the Hon. Auditors has evolved so that the ‘audit’ covers more than just an inspection of the Association’s accounts. Some of the matters that have been considered are:
‘audit’ the office working arrangements
monitoring the points based Grant Applications
Business Plan process
the implementation of the FA’s CAS software
However, these subjects have been part of the 2 or 3 day annual visit to the ESFA office. For the remainder of the year, with one exception in May 2011, there has been no role for the Hon. Auditors apart from the report at the AGM.
If Council itself requires a ‘critical friend’ to audit its progress in implementing AGM decisions or Working Party suggestions the Hon. Auditors could provide such a service. However, there needs to be clear guidelines/terms of reference so that it doesn’t provide a stick to beat Council Members or members of staff. This is the preferred choice of Council and the appointment of an extra auditor and an Independent Council Member would answer this recommendation.
4 That the role of Chairman becomes more strategic and leadership focused, to enable him to give clear direction to Council in order to influence policy and practice
The role and duties of the Chairman and Vice Chairman during their term of office is a personal decision for the individual. However, the duties should not become onerous and a division of those commitments is clearly possible. The rule changes in recommendations 1 and 2 allow for the Chairman to serve for more than one year.
5 That the remit and composition of all Council Sub Committees be kept under review.
Neil Pont produced documentation on the roles and responsibilities of Council members. Phil Harding and Peter Clayton sent Council documentation on the roles and responsibilities of the Trustees particularly with regard to the requirements of the Charity Commission. Mike Coyne has joined Trustees and new Council members will be invited to attend Trustees’ meetings as observers to become more aware of the decision making progress with budgets etc. The Chairman still has the remit of forming committees and requesting Council members to chair said committees. Consideration will be given to length of tenure of Chairmen of committees.
6 That the roles and responsibilities of the Chief Executive be reviewed.
A revised role description for Council Members has been agreed - but should be made widely known to membership. Council has discussed, and approved, the role of the Chief Executive, especially with regard to his work on behalf of the Association with The FA. The Chief Executive and other paid employees have undertaken properly conducted appraisal processes. Succession planning for roles in the organisation will be considered in the coming months
7 That job descriptions for all paid employees be reviewed regularly, and up to date Guidelines be produced for all volunteers within the Association.
This point has been addressed above. Job descriptions of staff need to be updated and reviewed annually particularly where a new appointment may impact on roles and responsibilities of current staff. Field Officers/Ambassadors, Council members’ roles have been drafted.
8 That the appraisal process for all employees be reviewed.
The CEO has appraised all employees and has himself been appraised by Mike Coyne, a Trustee and past Chairman who as a Head Teacher is au fait with the processes and procedures required for effective and rigorous appraisal of senior management. There may be training requirements for even more effective appraisal procedures for ESFA staff.
9 That more Field Officers be recruited.
Council has considered possible guidelines for this role and has considered changing the name of the post to make it clearer what the role involves. However, this is still work in progress - clarity about the role and recruitment of the personnel involved has not been achieved.
10 That communication within the Office must continue to be reviewed and improved.
Rationalisation has taken place of the communications in the office and procedures put into place to ensure memberships requests are responded to within five working days. We believe this to have been effective and the communications policy has recently been revisited and will be published for all membership to be able to follow those procedures within the policy document.
11 That communication with Counties, Districts and Membership must also continue to be improved.
The e-zine, the website, Kicks magazine, the Chairman’s notes and regular updates published on the website have kept membership abreast of developments in the organisation. The new Marcomms appointee, David Ebberson should further enhance the profile of ESFA. Attendance of Council members at local meetings will be encouraged.
12 That the Development Manager continues to encourage and facilitate meetings to develop closer relationships between County Schools’ FAs and County FAs.
Mike Spinks meets with Counties who have problems with liaison with their County FA’s FDO. This has been a success as last year there were only three areas which needed extra support in their business planning. Donna McIvor at The FA is attempting to survey Counties to ascertain how well this SFA/FA relationship is working.
13 That the Development Manager identify ‘good practice”, particularly with regard to the administration and management of Associations and share this with County and Local Association secretaries.
Mike Spinks sent out documentation and guideline for the roles of Officers in local and County Associations. All membership received this. The idea of Charter Marks for schools has been discussed but no actions taken. Manpower and financial constraints were seen as a block to future progress in this area.
14 That as a matter of urgency, the ESFA should investigate ways to address the impact, particularly on Local Associations, of the demise of the SSPs.
Since the writing of the report other local partnerships have been set up - in a different guise. Council delayed investigating the effect on schools as these new organisations - and such events as School Games - came into place. The time is now right for Council to consider the needs of schools, especially at primary level, who no longer receive support from SSPs. An effective time and place needs to be found in the School Games programme.
15 That Council examine ways to introduce and implement a ‘Quality Mark’ for schools,
The idea of Charter marks for schools has been discussed but no actions taken. Manpower and financial constraints were seen as a block to future progress in this area.
16 That Council examine ways to expand the development of Year 3/4 Festivals at a local level.
The Tesco sponsorship and the Premier League initiative have helped in moving this forward. A pilot in the 8 regions is taking place this year.
17 That the Under 18 International team should continue.
Wherever possible the players interact with local schools at the time of international matches (e.g. in 2012 at the U11 North Tyneside Festival) and Trustees and Council continually assess the finances linked with running International teams. Since the writing of the report Council has shown its commitment to international representative football by the development of the U15 ESFA Girls’ team.
We need to understand the importance of this group and showcase them better. Hopefully, this is being achieved via the community work but we do feel greater publicity is necessary to allow our U18s and our girls U15s to be seen as role models for younger scholars (and indeed some of our professional players at present!) The diagrammatic representation of budget share should clarify this for Council.
ESFA Review Group 2011
Report of the ESFA Review Group
Barry Shackley – Nottinghamshire Schools FA (former Primary HT)
Neil Pont, Council Member Area A (former Middle School HT)
Phil Harding, Council Member Area H (serving secondary teacher)
Neil Hopwood, Council Member Area D (serving secondary teacher)
Graeme Burn South Tyneside SFA (serving secondary teacher)
Jack Tarr Bassetlaw PSFA (former Primary HT)
John Larter Inner London SFA (former Primary HT)
John Williamson Secretary, Nottinghamshire Schools FA
The remit of the Review Group as proposed at the ESFA AGM 2010 was to
a) Undertake a review of the structure of the Association incorporating proposals for future development.
b) Consider the roles of Chairman, Chief Executive and the Council of the ESFA.
Report back its findings by the end of February 2011.
The Group was comprised of representatives from both membership and ESFA Council and an independent Chairman. There were ten expressions of interest from membership to serve on the Group and I endeavoured to achieve a balance of primary and secondary practitioners, as well as a geographical spread across the country, which I felt was achieved reasonably well. I should like to thank all members of the Review Group for giving of their time and offering a breadth of experience to the debate and the open minded way they considered the views of membership. A special thank you is offered to John Williamson our Minuting Secretary, who did an exceptional job in recording our discussions so accurately and producing the minutes for distribution to the Group and ultimately to membership, in an incredibly short timescale. The Group failed to meet the deadline of February for the report but this was due to a missed meeting in December due to the weather. That meeting had to be rescheduled for the end of February thereby putting back the date of the report by two months.
The Group convened three times at the offices of the Middlesex CFA, courtesy of Peter Clayton, the representative of the Football Association on the ESFA Council. On behalf of the Group I should like to thank Peter for his support and hospitality. At the outset it was agreed that the minutes of the meetings, once agreed as a fair reflection of our business, would be distributed to the whole of membership, Council, former Council Members and Life Members. This we anticipated would allow all with an interest to follow our progress and if they so desired, contact the Group at any stage to inform the debate. Between meetings the Group was proactive in seeking as many views as possible, through face to face meetings with individuals and County groups, as well as phone conversations and of course correspondence (see appendix of contributors). Every point raised with a member of the Group was discussed at the meetings and given due consideration. I am of the belief that this was a wide ranging consultation drawing upon a diverse spread of perspectives and to which everyone with an interest had an opportunity to contribute. This has resulted in seventeen recommendations to ESFA Council
We were delighted that Peter Chisholm, a secondary teacher and former team manager of the U18 England Schools team was able to attend our second meeting to offer an impassioned argument for retaining the U18 International team. His views on a range of issues that day were pertinent as a serving teacher immersed for many years in District Schools’ football. My thanks to Peter for his informed contribution to the discussion.
It would be remiss in a review of the activities of the ESFA, whilst seeking to establish areas for development and improvement, not to recognise the good work and achievements of the Association. It was apparent to the Group, even before we met and whilst the Group were meeting, that Council and employees were not waiting for the outcome of our deliberations before taking action to improve. They were being proactive in addressing some of the issues identified at the AGM in, order to be better “fit for purpose”. As early as August there was a new style e-zine produced, which has since appeared monthly and kept membership better informed. This has been a start in addressing the issue of improving communication. The ESFA Council’s committee structure has been reviewed, resulting in four key committees with clear priorities for the next three years, which is another step in the right direction. I am sure that this work has been driven by the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Vice Chairman elect and credit to them for recognising a need to change with the times.
There are other aspects of the ESFA that deserve recognition, not least of which is the building up of a healthy financial reserve over the past decade and credit is due to the Trustees for achieving that. The ESFA has new premises, a significant improvement and worthy of a National body. The staff are skilful, highly committed and extremely loyal to the Association.
In terms of football, the past few years have seen a significant increase in ESFA competitions at grassroots level and judging by the entries and feedback from schools this meets with their approval. Tens of thousands of young people are participating in National Cup Competitions, giving them an opportunity of appearing in a National final, usually played at a first class venue, which would ordinarily be beyond their dreams. The introduction of such competitions has generated significant increases in income, some of which has been ploughed back into District and County Associations. Many more referees have been rewarded by the National body for their continued support of County and District associations, as a result of the growth of individual schools National Competitions. The Festival programme, whilst not as well supported as it was years ago, still provides a unique experience for those young people who are fortunate enough to attend one of them. They offer more than playing football, they are a positive life experience which contribute not only to the physical but the emotional and social development of those who participate, whilst continuing to fulfil the ESFA’s mission statement as an educational objective. The same can be said of the U18 International programme, with the added dimension of excellence for those who achieve the squad and the pinnacle of their school football career. It offers much more as Peter Chisholm pointed out to us. The process includes up to two hundred boys through trials as well as seventy who attend the summer coaching programme. It gives opportunity to teacher colleagues to engage in coaching at the highest level and the new community programme ensures that again, it is about more than playing football, it is about the power of football to do good and enhance lives. It is excellent PR for the Association at a national and international level and again fulfils the mission statement. However, it comes at a price and that is reflected in the recommendations.
Having said all this, it is fair to say that there are many who do not agree. The Council of the ESFA are in the classic position of “we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t”. The Review Group in undertaking this work is well aware that there are almost as many views about the work of the ESFA as there are volunteers in its constituency. The ESFA will never please everyone but what it must do is listen more and undertake a regular review of its work in order that it continues to fulfil its unique role within the game of football. I hope the recommendations of the Review Group will assist Council both in achieving this aim and in addressing the expressed needs of membership more effectively.
Barry Shackley ( Chairman )
- That General Rule 5 be amended in respect of the structure of Council, eligibility to serve and tenure of Chairmen.
- That representation on Council be four members from each of the four Regions rather than the present two per Area. This would allow more flexibility and create more opportunity to maintain Council membership at its present level. However, the size and structure of Council should be kept under review to ensure “fitness for purpose”. Other models have been suggested and are available for consideration.
- That a Group be set up, possibly with co-opted members and an independent Chairman (or Improvement Partner in the manner of schools), to maintain an overview of the Association. The group would undertake such monitoring activities as necessary, to ensure that the issues addressed by the present Review Group remain under review. This group should report annually or bi-annually to Council with its recommendations and, in the interests of transparency, should also report to membership.
- That the role of Chairman becomes more strategic and leadership focused, to enable him to give clear direction to Council in order to influence policy and practice. This will require a change of emphasis from being a figurehead for one year, who tries to attend all functions and events. Council Members, former Council Members, the CE and even a President, should share the “handshaking role” in order support this change in emphasis and enable those who are willing, to serve more than one year as Chairman.
- That the remit and composition of all Council Sub Committees be kept under review, to reflect the importance of continuity and succession planning. The role of the Trustees must continue to reflect their legal responsibilities as required by the Charity Commission, but there needs to be clarification as to which financial proposals from Council are binding upon Trustees (and vice-versa) and which are recommendations. The level of financial reserves should continue to be reviewed by the Trustees, and must reflect the Association’s stated priorities.
- That the roles and responsibilities of the Chief Executive be reviewed. The time needed to effectively manage the Business and successfully implement ESFA Council priorities should be audited, and those aspects which require urgent action and therefore commitment (e.g. publicity, promotion, marketing, volunteer recruitment and sponsorship) should be addressed. If as a result of such an audit there is insufficient time to discharge all responsibilities, it is recommended that the position of FA Representative within the role be reassessed.
- That job descriptions for all paid employees be reviewed regularly, and up to date Guidelines be produced for all volunteers within the Association, namely Chairman, Council Members (including Trustees), Field Officers, and Auditors. (The Group has provided suggestions for Council Members, Chairman and Field Officers). The Chief Executive’s job description should reflect the ESFA’s priorities as determined by Council and, where appropriate, support and guidance should be sought from the Football Association for the Business and Administrative aspects of the role.
- That the appraisal process for all employees be reviewed to ensure that they are based upon clearly defined job descriptions that reflect the changing world of business and education. The process should be rigorous with clear targets and agreed success criteria. The appraisal of the Chief Executive should be delegated by the Trustees to an appropriately skilled person or persons. The process and timescales should be shared with the whole of Council and the outcomes made known to the Chairman of Trustees and Officers.
- That more Field Officers be recruited to support ESFA programmes and new initiatives and to enhance communication from grassroots to Regional representatives and so to Council.
- That communication within the Office must continue to be reviewed and improved. If key people are absent, day to day business should still appear to be seamless. The reputation of the ESFA as a national body is at stake. The Staff in interview have made suggestions for improvement which must be adopted. In particular, it is recommended that email addresses in the office should be rationalised as Admin@, Finance@ and Competitions@ so that membership write to an appropriate area of ESFA work (not to a named person) and the decision as to who deals with it is made in the office. Correspondents should receive prompt acknowledgement. In the event of follow up enquiries, staff will know who is dealing with the matter and will be able to offer a more professional response. The issue of communications directly to the Chief Executive should be addressed by having a system in place whereby appropriate office staff can manage incoming mail so that they are fully aware of what he is dealing with and again can give a more informed response to any follow up enquiries.
- That communication with Counties, Districts and Membership must also continue to be improved. In particular the e-zines and newsletters should be complemented by a synopsis of the key items of discussion at Council Meetings being available to membership, in the form of Chairman’s Notes, (in the manner of The FA’s National Game Board) which could go out well before the minutes are approved. This would keep membership well informed of current ESFA work and any issues being addressed. It could give a flavour of the discussions which would help membership understand better the work Council does on their behalf. It will also help membership track the progress of any issues they may have raised through Field Officers, Council Members or correspondence.
Field Officers as per recommendation 9 can assist significantly in this area by acting as a conduit for improved two way dialogue between grassroots and Council via the Regional representatives.
- That the Development Manager continues to encourage and facilitate meetings to develop closer relationships between County Schools’ FAs and County FAs. This would be mutually beneficial in terms of resources for coaching and in some instances financially in respect of County Representative teams. There are good models available within the Association and these should be evaluated and shared with membership.
- That the Development Manager identify ‘good practice”, particularly with regard to the administration and management of Associations and share this with County and Local Association secretaries. This could also involve further support in managing the Business Plans.
- That as a matter of urgency, the ESFA should investigate ways to address the impact, particularly on Local Associations, of the demise of the SSPs.
- That Council examine ways to introduce and implement a ‘Quality Mark’ for schools, which would be the ESFA’s replacement for the FA Charter Standard Mark and something that the Review Group believe would be valued.
- That Council examine ways to expand the development of Year 3/4 Festivals at a local level as a way of introducing children earlier to the educational ethos of schools’ football, now that youth football clubs introduce children to football from as young as the age of 5yrs.
- That the Under 18 International team should continue but with regular and rigorous monitoring of the finances by the Trustees. Steps should be taken to make more use of the squad members as role models for young people.
Barry Shackley ( Chairman)
Appendix of Contributors
Essex CSFA, Shropshire CSFA, Nottingham SFA, All Field Officers,
Correspondence from individuals:
Don Palmer, Pat Smith, David Lailey, Peter Jordan, Tony Cryer, Mike Spinks
Telephone conversations with:
Alan Jones, Neil Hopwood, David Lailey, David Woollaston, Peter Clayton, David Lomas, Tony Cryer
Face to face discussions with:
Peter Jordan, Martin Duffield, Mike Simmonds, Steve Abson, Chris Banbury & Chris French (Plymouth SFA), Phil Harding, John Appleby, Malcolm Berry, Mike Coyne
Interviews with all employees including:
John Read, Mike Spinks, Darren Alcock, Lorna Hartwell, Sue Gifford, Dawn Howard and Ed Mitchell
Presentation and discussion with:
Attendees at the County Schools FA representative meeting 6/11/2010 (29/45)
Attendees from Counties and Districts at the East Midlands meeting 6/10/2010 (11)
Attendees from Counties and Districts at the West Midlands meeting 14/10/2010 (14)