The Role of Governors
All schools have a governing board. School governors are one of the largest volunteer forces in the country (there are currently 300,000) playing an important role in raising standards across schools.
Governors are appointed and elected to:
- provide strong links between the school and the community it serves;
- bring a wide experience of the outside world into the school;
- ensure an independent view;
- create a visible form of accountability for the head teacher and staff of the school;
- create a team focusing on long-term development and improvement;
- ensure accountability to the community for the use of resources and the standards of teaching and learning in the school;
- act as a “critical friend” to the head teacher and staff.
Being on a governing board is similar to being on the trustee board of a charity, or the board of directors of a limited company; the governing board is a “corporate body”. This means that it is the boverning board as a whole that is liable for decisions, rather than an individual governor; an individual’s duties are carried out as part of the wider governing body team.
The government encourages governing boards to focus on three main strategic functions within the formal, legal framework that applies to their specific type of schools:
- Setting vision, ethos and strategic direction;
- Holding head teachers to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils;
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
In doing so, the governing board must also ensure that parents are involved, consulted and informed as appropriate, with information to the community being made available as required. The head teacher is then responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the school and the implementation of the strategic framework established by the governing body.
So, the role of the governing board is to act as strategic planners, promoting high standards of educational achievement, ensuring that children at their school are able to achieve to the best of their ability. As such it therefore:
- Provides a long term strategy for the school by establishing a vision and setting the ethos and aims of the school;
- Appoints and holds the head teacher to account for the educational performance of the school;
- Performance appraises the head teacher;
- Agrees the school improvement strategy, including setting targets with supporting budgets and staffing structures;
- Monitors and evaluates the work of the school by reviewing the performance of the head teacher, the effectiveness of the policy framework, progress towards targets and the effectiveness of the school improvement strategy;
- Signs off the school’s self-evaluation process and responds to Ofsted reports as necessary.
Types of Governor
There are several types of governor, each appointed in different ways; not all schools have all types of governor. For a Local Authority maintained school, like Rode Heath, the types of governor include:
- Parent: Parent governors are usually parents (or have parental responsibility) of children at the school. Most are elected by the parents of the school in question;
- Staff: Staff governors are elected by those who are paid to work at the school;
- Co-opted: Co-opted governors are appointed by the governing board itself. In Local Authority maintained schools (like Rode Heath) this is on the basis of the skills they can bring to support the effective governance and success of the school;
- Foundation: These are governors appointed by a foundation body; in addition to their responsibilities as governors, foundation governors also have to ensure that the religious character of the school is upheld;
- Partnership: In non-faith schools, partnership governors are similar to community governors;
- Local Authority: Governors nominated by the Local Authority and then appointed by the governing body;
- Associate members: Associate members are not governors, but can be invited to sit on one of the committees of a governing board, usually because they have specific skills.
Note: Staff and parent governors do not have to try to represent the views of all staff and parents. They should communicate with them about issues that arise but only in so far as is reasonable. Staff and parent governors are free to vote in accordance with their own views.
The rules on the structure of governing bodies changed in 2012 and from September 2015 all governing boards:
- must have at least 7 members, with no maximum – there is no best size;
- must include: two elected parent governors, the head teacher governor, one staff governor and one Local Authority governor;
- can add as many co-opted governors as they decide in addition to the 5 mandatory positions.
All governors, other than the head teacher, are appointed or elected for a four year term. There is no restriction on the number of times a governor may re-stand for appointment or election.