A governor is someone who:
- is a volunteer;
- cares about teaching, learning and children;
- represents those people with a key interest in the school, including parents, staff, the local community and the LA;
- is part of a team which accepts responsibility for everything a school does;
- has time to commit to meetings and other occasions when needed;
- is willing to learn;
- can act as a critical friend who supports the school but also challenges and asks questions about how the school works and the standards it achieves;
- acts as a link between parents, the local community, the LA and the school. Helpline
Many kinds of people become governors of schools. They will have a reason for serving on the governing body. Because of these different reasons our governing body has a core group of governors consisting of:
- parent governors (5)
- teacher governors (2)
- staff governors (1)
- LA governors (4)
- community governors (5)
- the headteacher (acting in the capacity of a governor where this is his/her choice).
The three main roles of the Governing Body:
(i) Strategic role
Regulations and The School Governors Guide to the Law clearly describe the respective roles and responsibilities of governing bodies and headteachers. Governing bodies fulfil a strategic role and should not interfere in the day to day running of the school – this is the responsibility of the headteacher. Governors carry out their strategic role by deciding on what they want the school to achieve and providing a strategic framework to get there. This involves:
- setting the aims and objectives for the school;
- agreeing policies, targets and priorities for achieving these objectives;
- monitoring and evaluating to see whether (i) and (ii) are being achieved.
Governors should always take advice on all of this from the headteacher before making decisions.
(ii) The Critical Friend (Perhaps ‘questioning friend’ is more appropriate!)
This is where governors need to offer support and constructive advice to the headteacher, perhaps act as a sounding board for ideas, etc, but need also to ask those challenging questions, seeking information and clarification, improving proposals, to arrive at the best decision for all concerned.
(iii) The accountable role (Refer to part 1)
Whilst the headteacher and staff of your school are accountable to the governing body for the performance of the school, the governing body must be prepared to explain its decision and actions to anyone who has a legitimate interest. This could include staff, parents, pupils, the local community, the LA, Welsh Government.
The corporate responsibilities of the Governing Body
The governors of schools have no powers to act as individuals unless very specific tasks have been delegated to them by their governing body. The functions of governing bodies are exercised corporately. That is, the decisions taken are those of the governing body, exercising collective responsibility. It follows that one of the most important tasks of a governing body is to build itself into an effective team.
A team is a group of people working together with a common purpose. Each team member has unique qualities, experience, skills and special interests that must be integrated with those of other members. Individual differences are a team’s greatest asset since they help to allocate tasks amongst members of the team
A good team is one whose members are aware and supportive of each other. They share the work. They are eager to learn and develop. They know and abide by the rules that safeguard every individual’s space. They accept responsibility for the quality of their work together.
A team may be considered effective if: –
1) it capitalises upon its strengths and appoints new members when it needs a better range of skills and experience;
2) it gives priority to the continuous training and development of all its members;
3) it shares the workload and gives individuals opportunities to develop specialist roles;
4) responsibilities are corporately exercised;
5) time is allocated to periodically review of the team’s effectiveness.
(i) Capitalising on governing body strengths
The effectiveness of a governing body clearly depends on the qualities, skills and experience its members bring to the service of the school. With its ever-increasing role and responsibilities, no governing body can afford to have its effectiveness impaired by individuals who lack motivation or are unable to give the necessary commitment and time that the work entails. An even greater commitment is needed from some governors, notably the chair. Every governor must be ready to serve on committees, as well as attending governing body meetings and participating in governor training and development.
The governing body can create opportunities to encourage parents and others to offer themselves for election or appointment. However, the role of governors must be positively presented. Too often people who might otherwise be interested undervalue themselves and their potential contribution. They may mistakenly suppose that schools only want people with skills in financial or personnel management. What is needed are people who understand that education is important and that schools need their time, commitment and experience. Governors who can represent the range of interests in the local community are especially valuable even though they need not be parents of pupils in the school or indeed, parents.