The Role of the School Governor

The Governing Body has responsibility for raising school standards through three key roles:

  • Ensuring clarity of 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.

To raise standards, Governors do not need to be experts in education. It is their varied experience, time, energy and commitment that is valuable to the school.

Although the Governing Body has important powers and duties, it has limited time and resources. In addition the Governing Body employs professionals to run the school on a day-to-day basis. This is why the role of the Governing Body is strategic.

By helping to decide the school's strategy for improvement, the Governing Body can make sure that pupils can learn effectively and achieve the highest standards.

The Governing Body should help to set the broad framework within which the Headteacher and staff should run the school. It can do this by:

  • Setting aims and objectives for the school.
  • Adopting policies for achieving those aims and objectives.
  • Setting targets for achieving those aims and objectives.

Once the framework has been defined, the Governing Body should review performance against targets.

The Governing Body holds the Headteacher and staff to account for the performance of the school. The Headteacher and staff report to the Governing Body on the school's performance.

The Governing Body should discuss, question and refine proposals. It must do this while respecting the roles of the Headteacher and staff, recognising their responsibilities for the management of the school.
  
The Governing Body answers to parents, the local community, and (in some cases) the Church, for school performance.
 
Maintained schools are also accountable to the Local Authority.

Academies are also accountable to the Education Funding Agency and to the Secretary of State for Education.
 
All schools are also held accountable by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills).
  
The Governing Body should use its members' knowledge and experience to provide the Headteacher and staff with support, advice and information. It is expected to both challenge and support the school, which is why Governors are often called 'critical friends' of the school.
 
The Governing Body is CRITICAL because it monitors and evaluates the school's effectiveness, it asks challenging questions, and pushes for improvement. The Governing Body is a FRIEND because it also supports the Headteacher and staff in supporting, teaching and guiding the pupils.
  
Governors are not expected to be involved in the detail of the day-to-day management of the school. This is the Headteacher's role. The Headteacher has responsibility for the internal organisation, management and control of the school. They must also implement the strategic framework established by the Governing Body. A good Headteacher will talk about all the main aspects of school life with the Governing Body, giving governors enough information to fulfil their statutory responsibilities.
  
Being a Governor involves many commitments:
  

A governor:

  • should attend meetings of the full Governing Body and must act with honesty and integrity.

  • must be ready to explain the Governing Body's actions and decisions to staff, pupils, parents and anyone with a legitimate interest in the school.

  • can also decide to give extra time to the school. Your school will offer you advice on the additional ways in which you can get involved, for example, by visiting the school, joining a Governing Body committee or participating in other activities.

  A governor  will be disqualified if he/she does not attend Governing Body meetings for six months without giving apologies and getting the approval of the Governing Body. Only the Headteacher and ex-officio Foundation Governors are exempt from this rule.
  

Summary

 
 The school's Governing Body and Headteacher set the future direction for the school and decide how the school's budget should be spent.
 
The Governing Body must:
  • Ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Hold the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
  • Oversee the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent
The role of the Governing Body is strategic. The Headteacher is responsible for day-to-day management of the school. The Governing Body is a corporate body, so individual Governors are generally protected from personal liability resulting from its decisions and actions.