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Shawlands Governor Handbook

Shawlands Governor Induction Booklet

Governing Body Meeting Dates 2016-17


What is the role of a Governor?

Lord John Nash Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools says:

I recognise the dedication of the hundreds of thousands of volunteers who serve as school governors.  Thy invest a huge amount of good-will and hard work in our education system.

The significance of governing bodies' role has in the past been under-valued.  Governing bodies are the key strategic decision makers and vision setters in every school and academy.  They are also a key part of the overall system for school accountability.  Governing bodies have a vital role to play in driving up school and pupil performance and ensuring that resources are used well to give every child the best possible education.  I want all governing bodies to focus ruthlessly on these core strategic functions, and avoid getting distracted by more peripheral matters.

Governors 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:

a. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;

b. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff; and

c. 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 - guidance on the crucial role of the chair of governors, developed jointly with the National Governors' Association (NGA), is available on the NCTL website;
  • 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;
  • governing more than one school to develop a more strategic perspective and create more robust accountability through the ability to compare and contrast across schools.

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 areas, 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 and to Ofsted for the exercise of its functions.


This is taken from the Governor's handbook from the Department for Education - September 2014 - click for full document.