School Governing Bodies
All state maintained primary, secondary and special schools, are accountable to their governing bodies, which in turn are accountable to parents and the community. Parent and staff representatives are elected to the governing body; the local authority appoints governors to the governing body and the relevant faith bodies appoint foundation governors in faith schools.
In addition the governing body can appoint its own community governors, and it is traditionally these posts which the governing body uses to cover skills gaps, hence these posts often being offered to governors from the business community.
Increasingly local authority appointment panels also look to the skills set of their appointees.
The Value of School Governance
Governing bodies make decisions which are in the best interests of the children and young people. Keeping the decision making as close as possible to those that are affected by the decisions makes for sound and efficient leadership and governance.
The current government’s commitment to the ‘Big Society’ supports this, and the school governance model fits into this concept neatly. Fulfilling the role of a school governor is, therefore, both a serious undertaking and enormously rewarding. Not only do governors bring their own knowledge and skills to the role, but, in learning how schools are run, they often develop their understanding of leadership.
The majority of employers appreciate this and are supportive of their staff taking on the responsibility. In addition, contributing to the growth and development of a school and seeing tangible improvements in the attainment and well being of the children is a satisfying and important contribution to the local community.
The Role of the Governing Body
The governing body is responsible for the conduct of its school, and must promote high standards of educational achievement at the school.It is the school’s accountable body and as such:
- provides a strategic view of the school by establishing a vision and setting the purpose and aims of the school within an agreed policy framework. It appoints and performance manages the headteacher, agreeing the school improvement strategy which includes setting statutory targets with supporting budgets and staffing structures;
- monitors and evaluates the work of the school by reviewing the performance of the headteacher, the effectiveness of the policy framework, progress towards targets, and the effectiveness of the school improvement strategy; signs off the self evaluation process and responds to school improvement service and Ofsted reports as necessary.
- In addition it holds the headteacher to account for the performance of the school and ensures that parents are involved, consulted and informed as appropriate, with information to the community being made available as required.
In order to do this, governors need to gain knowledge of how their school operates through training, by attending meetings, and by getting to know their school community, for example through a small number of visits to the school during the school day.