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.
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 role of the governing board is a strategic one with three key functions:
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well
- Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
Governors set the aims and objectives for the school. They set the policies and targets for achieving those aims and objectives. They monitor and evaluate the progress the school is making and act as a source of challenge and support to the headteacher (a critical friend). The headteacher is responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the school and the implementation of the strategic framework established by the governing board. 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.