What do school governors do?
School governors are responsible for setting school strategy together with the Head and SLT, while the Head and SLT are responsible for day-to-day operations. Governors’ key functions are:
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
- Holding the Head to account for the students’ educational performance, and the performance management of staff
- Overseeing the school’s finances in the short and long term
Ultimately we are responsible for strategic decisions, for keeping the school solvent, for ensuring that targets are set and met, and that the school meets its statutory requirements – from health and safety to SEN provision.
It’s also our job to look ahead to the long term, and plan for future developments, funding, and long-term decisions.
The Headteacher (who is also a governor in most schools, Churston included) is responsible for how those objectives are achieved: the organisation, management and day-to-day control of the school. The governors should both challenge and support the Head; an approach often referred to as the critical friend.
As Churston is an Academy, we are technically trustees and directors as well as governors.
Mostly our role is to observe and make sure the school is doing what it should be. Not to get actively involved. School governors do however have a few more active functions:
- They appoint the Headteacher and other senior leaders
- They appraise the Headteacher
- They set the Headteacher’s pay
- They agree on pay recommendations for other staff
- They hear staff grievance appeals and disciplinary matters
- They hear pupil exclusion appeals
What do governors NOT do?
We don’t get involved in the day-to-day running of the school. So, to give you one example, the decision to switch to 3-year GCSEs has to be agreed by governors – it’s a strategic decision – but we don’t get involved in how the timetable should be organised to accommodate it.
We also have nothing whatever to do with how teaching and learning are delivered. We are not trained or qualified to make judgements on teaching, and wouldn’t presume to do so. If we are not satisfied with the academic performance in a particular area we will say so and agree on targets to improve it, but we won’t give any direction as to how the target is to be achieved.
Where do Academy Members fit in?
Academy Members are the people who hold the governing body to account. Under normal circumstances they very much take a back seat, attending the AGM and receiving the audited accounts. Our Churston Members are Tim Durrant, Barry Goldsmith, Sue Gunn-Johnson, Charlie Webber and the incumbent Chair of Governors (currently Roni Jay).
As an academy, the buck stops with the governors (including the Head) and the Members. So here’s what the organisation structure looks like:
So who are we?
Churston’s governing body is made up of 12 governors. We’re all volunteers, and almost all have busy day jobs as well. There are three types of governor here:
Staff governors We have two of these, plus the Headteacher. Their function is to be representative of the staff (but not staff reps) and lend their expertise and knowledge of the school.
Parent governors are likewise representative parents, not parent reps. They have an important perspective on the school through their children’s experience and a strong vested interest in the school’s performance.
Community governors cannot be either staff or parents. They help to strengthen links with the local community and often bring specialist skills such as finance or law.
“Staff governors are representative staff, not staff representatives”
Some governors are elected but most are appointed, so we can make sure we have the skills we need around the table. We meet four or five times a year as a full governing body, and we also have two sub-committees which meet each term: Resources (which looks after finance, premises and HR), and Curriculum (which looks after everything relating to the students).
What’s a link governor?
We appoint individual governors to take responsibility for a particular key area of importance, such as safeguarding, or health and safety. A link governor keeps a close eye on behalf of the whole governing body, and provides a communication channel between us and the key staff responsible for the area in question. The link governor will make sure that the school is fulfilling its legal requirements, and will support the relevant member of staff in doing so if necessary.
Schools often used to appoint link governors to each subject area, or school year group. However where there are no specific needs, this is a bit of a waste of everyone’s time. We appoint link governors to whole-school issues. Currently we have link governors for safeguarding, health and safety, SEND, Pupil Premium and careers.
List of current Governors
If you require a copy of the minutes from the Governing Body meetings, please e-mail Mrs V Wolf, Clerk to the Governing Body – firstname.lastname@example.org, stating which minutes you require.
Academies Financial Handbook 2018