A very helpful term used to describe the governors’ task is that they should play the part of ‘critical friend’ to the Head of School and her team. This means striking the right balance between challenge and support: governors are encouraged to question and suggest refinements to the school’s proposals, but once decisions are taken they need to join in defending them.
It is most important to emphasise that governors are not involved in the day-to-day management of the school: this is the professional responsibility of the Head of School with the support of the Leadership Team.
But governors do need to get to know how the school actually works; they are linked to individual members of the Leadership Team and through this link gain an insight into their areas of responsibility; visiting during the school day to see the school in action. Governors are also encouraged to join in on special activity days for students and staff training sessions, and to sit in on some of the meetings of staff when new developments are being discussed. But even if a governor finds that daytime visits are very difficult to fit in, there are many evening events at which the presence of governors shows support for the work of the school.
Knowing the school helps the governors in carrying out what is called their strategic role. Each year the school prepares the School Development Plan, in which the governors are involved. Then, through the year, the Local Governing Body monitors the progress being made towards achieving the tasks listed. Governors are also involved in interviewing for senior staff appointments
The Local Governing Body is also closely concerned with the management of the school’s budget, which now amounts to over £7M. The annual budget is proposed by the school management but approved by the governors who monitor the progress of expenditure through the year, reporting on any major issues which may arise. While around 80% of the budget goes on staffing, governors also need to ask whether teaching materials and equipment are adequate and the fabric of the school is being properly maintained.
Fundamentally, the concern of the governors is to see that everything the school does is directed towards helping all students, whatever their abilities and needs, to do the very best that they can while at school. The welfare of both students and staff is central to all that they do in serving the school on the Local Governing Body.
Virtually any adult has practical knowledge or experience of some sort that they could bring to bear on the work of the Local Governing Body – all that is required is that you should enjoy being involved with young people and seeing them grow in maturity and skill and understanding and should genuinely want to help the school to develop and flourish.
If you think that this might be for you, please do write in confidence to the Chair of the Local Governing Body, c/o the school, and we will arrange a meeting with you to answer your questions and tell you what vacancies exist or are likely to occur.
Governors’ email: firstname.lastname@example.org