What do the governors do?
Role of a school governor: To contribute to the work of the governing body in ensuring high standards of achievement for all children and young people in the school by:
• Setting the school’s vision, ethos and strategic direction;
• Holding the Headteacher 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.
Activities: As part of the governing body team, a governor is expected to
1. Contribute to the strategic discussions at governing body meetings which determine:
• the vision and ethos of the school;
• clear and ambitious strategic priorities and targets for the school;
• that all children, including those with special educational needs, have access to a broad and balanced curriculum;
• the school’s budget, including the expenditure of the pupil premium allocation and PE funding;
• the school’s staffing structure and key staffing policies;
• the principles to be used in setting other school policies.
2. Hold the Headteacher to account by monitoring the school’s performance; this includes:
• agreeing the outcomes from the school’s self-evaluation and ensuring they are used to inform the priorities in the school development plan;
• considering all relevant data and feedback on all aspects of school performance;
• asking challenging questions;
• ensuring that the Headteacher has arranged for the required audits to be carried out and receiving the results of those audits;
• ensuring that the Headteacher has developed the required policies and procedures and the school is operating effectively according to those policies;
• acting as a link governor on a specific issue, making enquiries of the relevant staff, and reporting to the governing body on the progress on the relevant school priority; and
• listening to and reporting to the school’s stakeholders: pupils, parents, staff, and the wider community, including local employers.
3. Ensure the school staff have the resources and support they require to do their jobs well:
• including the necessary expertise on business management
• obtaining external advice where necessary
• effective appraisal and CPD (Continuing Professional Development)
• suitable premises
• Using resources effectively to maximise impact.
4. When required, serve on panels of governors to:
• appoint the Headteacher and other staff;
• appraise the Headteacher;
• set the Headteacher’s pay and agree the pay recommendations for other staff;
• hear the second stage of staff grievances and disciplinary matters;
• hear appeals about pupil exclusions.
The role of governor is largely a thinking and questioning role, but in a small rural school like Borrowdale it is also a doing role. However,
A governor does NOT:
• Undertake audits of any sort – whether financial or health & safety - even if the governor has the relevant professional experience;
• Spend much time with the pupils of the school – if you want to work directly with children, there are many other voluntary valuable roles within the school;
• Fundraise – this is the role of FOBS – the governing body should consider income streams and the potential for income generation, but not carry out fundraising tasks;
• Undertake classroom observations to make judgements on the quality of teaching – the governing body monitors the quality of teaching in the school by requiring data from the Headteacher and from external sources;
• Do the job of the school staff – if there is not enough capacity within the paid staff team to carry out the necessary tasks, the governing body need to consider and rectify this.
As you become more experienced as a governor, there are other roles you could volunteer for which would increase your degree of involvement and level of responsibility (e.g. as a chair of a committee). This document does not cover the additional roles taken on by the chair, vice-chair and chairs of committees.
In order to perform this role well, a governor is expected to:
• get to know the school, including by visiting the school occasionally during school hours, and gain a good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses;
• attend induction training and regular relevant training and development events;
• attend meetings (full governing body meetings and committee meetings) and read all the papers before the meeting;
• act in the best interest of all the pupils of the school; and
• behave in a professional manner, as set down in the governing body’s code of conduct, including acting in strict confidence.
Under usual circumstances, you should expect to spend the equivalent of between 10 and 20 days a year on your governing responsibilities; the top end of this commitment, which equates to about half a day per week in term time, is most relevant to the chair and others with key roles, such as chairs of committees. Initially, we would expect your commitment to be nearer 10 days a year. However, there may be periods when the time commitment may increase, for example when recruiting a Headteacher.
Under Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, if you are employed, then you are entitled to ‘reasonable time off’ to undertake public duties; this includes school governance. ‘Reasonable time off’ is not defined in law, and you will need to negotiate with your employer how much time you will be allowed.
Constitution of the Governing Body
Clerk of Governors
The purpose of the clerk’s role is to:
• Provide advice to the governing body on governance, constitutional and procedural matters.
• Provide effective administrative support to the governing body and its committees.
• Ensure the governing body is properly constituted.
• Manage information effectively in accordance with legal requirements.
Much of the work of the Governing Body is carried out by working committees.
These committees oversee their area of responsibility, make proposals and report to the Governing Body.
Governors are allocated to these committees according to their area of expertise and experience.
Governors attend training sessions, seminars and conferences to help us keep up to date with changes in schools and education and to help us do our job effectively. We also go into school to meet with the Headteacher, other members of staff and pupils to help us find out how the school is progressing towards its targets.