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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:
(i) setting the aims and objectives for the school;
(ii) agreeing policies, targets and priorities for achieving these objectives;
(iii) 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

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.

Core Responsibilities of the Governing Body

  • Promoting high standards of educational achievement and behaviour
  • Setting targets for pupil achievement
  • Ensuring that all learners have access to a broad and balanced curriculum
  • Determining the aims, policies and priorities of the school
  • Determining and monitoring the school’s budget
  • Staffing – e.g. staff appointments, performance management
  • Providing parents with information regarding the school
  • Producing an action plan and monitoring progress following an inspection by Estyn
  • The wellbeing and safeguarding of learners

How does a Governor fulfil his/her duties?

Examples include:

  • Attending meetings, committees and, perhaps, participate in small working parties from time to time
  • Visiting the school
  • Being linked to an area of the school’s work
  • Participating in decisions of the governing body
  • Working within an agreed code of conduct (See Appendix A for Principles of Conduct for Governors of Schools in Wales)
  • Maintaining confidentiality when required
  • Undertaking training and development
  • Being aware of the latest initiatives and developments in education Support and Training for governors to carry out their responsibilities effective

September 2016

Appendix A

Principles of Conduct

In order for governors to discharge their responsibilities and duties effectively and efficiently, governing bodies should adopt a set of guiding principles. The following list is suggested as something governing bodies may wish to consider.

Governors should:

  • Ensure that their actions reflect the considered, best interests of the school and its pupils;
  • Attend governing body meetings regularly;
  • On appointment / election attend induction training, data training and chair training (for chairs only) provided by the Local Authority, if the criteria set out in The Government of Maintained Schools (Training Requirements for Governors) (Wales) Regulations 20131 applies;
  • On appointment, familiarise themselves with work of the school and keep this knowledge up to date;
  • Maintain their knowledge of current education policy, regulations and guidance and extend their skills by participating in training programmes including whole governing body training and other events;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to equality of opportunity and reflect this in developing and applying the policies the school is required to have in respect of sex, sexual orientation, marital or civil partner status, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, disability or age (as defined in the Equality Act 2010);
  • Act as a critical friend towards those with professional responsibilities in the
    school, bearing in mind the governing body’s own responsibility to promote
    high standards of educational achievement;
  • Be conscious of, and act within, the limits of the responsibilities of the governing body and when necessary, seek and give due consideration to professional information, advice and guidance;
  • Respect the responsibility of the headteacher for the day – to – day decisions for the management of the school;
  • Observe collective responsibility by supporting, once determined by democratic means, the decisions of the governing body;
  • Respect the governing body’s right to deem certain matters to be confidential, restricting discussion of such matters, whether inside or outside governing body meetings, solely to governor colleagues and in appropriate cases solely to discussion within governing body committees;
  • Develop with colleagues on the governing body, a clear vision for the school;
  • Focus their contribution to governing body decisions upon what is in the best interests of pupils, and be conscious that the welfare of pupils should always come first in terms of child protection, health and safety and helping each child to develop their full potential;
  • Encourage and participate in systems which provide for open and effective communication, helping to establish a clear vision of the school’s development;
  • Be aware that all governors are equal and respect others’ views and behave accordingly in dealings with governor colleagues;
  • Be aware of their accountability to parents and others in the local community and seek to devise effective dialogue with all those interested in the conduct and standards of the school;
  • Observe all protocols and procedures agreed by the governing body;
  • Be open, honest, objective, fair and impartial and prepared to confront the personal prejudices that may hinder informed decision-making including conflicts of interest.
  • With the rise in popularity of social net working sites such as Facebook and Twitter, governors should remember that they are a representative of the governing body and part of a corporate body. It is therefore sensible for governors to maintain a certain level of separation on social networking sites, as this may create a conflict / difficult situation in the future.