Governing Bodies’ Core Functions
The department has high expectations of governing bodies. They are the strategic leaders of our schools and have a vital role to play in making sure every child gets the best possible education. For maintained schools this is reflected in the law, which states that the purpose of maintained school governing bodies is to ‘conduct the school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement at the school’
In all types of schools, governing bodies should have a strong focus on three core strategic functions:
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
- Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
This amounts to a demanding role for governing bodies. Evidence suggests that those that deliver it well do so by:
understanding their strategic role – building a productive and supportive relationship with the headteacher while holding them to account for school performance and taking hard strategic decisions in the light of objective data;
ensuring governors have the necessary skills and commitment, including to challenge the school to bring about improvement and hold leaders to account for performance;
appointing an effective chair to lead and manage the governing body.
appointing a high quality clerk to advise them on the nature of their functions and duties and ensure the governing body operates efficiently and effectively;
evaluating their performance regularly in the light of Ofsted expectations and other good practice and making changes as necessary to improve their effectiveness;
Effective governing bodies also think carefully about how they are organised. This includes thinking about whether and how to use their powers to delegate functions and decisions to committees or individual governors. Governing bodies may decide to task individual governors to take an interest in a specific area, such as SEN, safeguarding or health and safety, but there is no legal requirement for either maintained schools or academies to do so. There are many different models and governing bodies are best placed to decide for themselves what will work best in their own circumstances. It is the overall governing body, however, that in all cases remains accountable in law, to Ofsted and to the local community for the exercise of its functions. The department expects every governing body to focus strongly on its core functions and to retain oversight of them.
It is essential that governing bodies recruit and develop governors with the skills to deliver their core functions effectively. However, it is equally important to emphasise that the skills required are those to oversee the success of the school, not to do the school’s job for it. For example, a governor with financial expertise should use their skills to scrutinise the school’s accounts, not to help prepare them. If a governor does possess skills that the school wishes to utilise on a pro bono basis, then it is important that this is considered voluntary work and not governance, and steps should be taken to ensure that this does not blur lines of accountability.
St George’s School Governing Body is set up in the following way:
Parent Governors are elected by other parents at the school
The Staff Governor is elected by all the school staff
The Headteacher is a member of the Governing Body by virtue of their office
The Local Authority Governor is nominated by the Local Authority but appointed by the Governing Body
Co-opted Governors are appointed by the Governing Body
Instrument of Government (constitution) for St George’s School sets out the following:
1 Local Authority Governor
1 Staff Governor
1 Headteacher Governor
2 Parent Governors
7 Co-opted Governors