The Role of a School Governor
Your local school highly values the role played by all its stakeholders. Being a school governor is an important way in which you can help your local school.
School governors are responsible for making sure the school provides the best possible quality education for the children and young people of Neath Port Talbot. Together with the Head Teacher, who is responsible for day-to-day management, they set the school's aims and policies as well as carrying out a number of other important duties including, deciding how the school's budget is spent, appointing and dismissing of staff, and forming policy on the school's curriculum.
If you were to become a school governor, advice, support and training in carrying out the role is given by our Governor Support and Training Officers.
The term of office for a school governor is normally four years. Being a school governor is demanding but rewarding and a good way of putting something into your local community. You don't have to be a parent of a child at the school, but if you are, you can also know that you are having a direct influence on the quality of your child's education.
The role and responsibilities of the governing body
The governing body’s roles and responsibilities fall into three key areas
- Setting aims for the school.
- Agreeing policies, plans and targets for improvement to match those aims.
- Monitoring and evaluating the impact of the policies.
- Asking relevant but probing questions in a supportive, honest and trusting manner.
- Monitoring the impact of the policies and plans.
- Holding the headteacher and staff to account for the performance of the school.
- Accounting to the parents and others for the work of the governing body in deciding the strategic direction of the school.
- Setting the terms of reference for those individuals, committees and working parties to which the governing body delegates tasks.
- Legal accountability.
In addition to working alongside fellow governors you will also come into contact with school staff, the Diocese (for governors in Roman Catholic and Church in Wales schools), inspectors from Estyn, your Development Officer, Primary Support Officer and other officers from the Local Authority.
The single most significant person the governing body will be working with is your school’s headteacher who, as lead professional, has the knowledge and access to information which governors need to work effectively.
Governors and headteachers have broadly defined areas of responsibility within their school.
The governing body works with the headteacher to provide vision and a strategic framework.
The headteacher is responsible for the operational management and ensuring that agreed policies are implemented.
You will also have the opportunity to work with other staff in the school from time to time.
For example, you may want to know more about the teaching of English in the school which may mean discussions with the member of staff who has lead responsibility for the subject
What are my personal responsibilities?
As a governor you will always act as part of a team with collective responsibility. You may be relieved to know that so long as decisions can be shown to have been taken in good faith neither the governing body nor individual governors have any legal liability.
However, you may be asked to take on a task on behalf of the governing body. For example, to sit on an appointment panel, or help monitor a particular aspect of the school’s work. Remember that individual governors have no authority to act on behalf of the governing body unless they have been specifically asked to do so.
It is very important that governors make every effort to attend as many meetings as possible since at least half the governing body must be present to ensure binding decisions can be made. If something comes up preventing you from getting to a meeting let your clerk know the reason as early as possible. A governor can be disqualified if they fail to attend meetings over six months without giving apologies or where the governing body rejects their apologies.
Much of the work of the governing body is done through committees. Speak to your chair to ensure you play a part in the committee which would benefit most from your individual talents and skills.
You must allow sufficient time to read meeting papers before the meeting to ensure you are clear about the issues.
Be ready to ask informed questions
You may find it helpful to make a note of them on your paperwork. Never forget that you are not there to rubber stamp the decisions made by others. Make sure you make a contribution and have your say.
Many of the discussions in which you will be involved will need to be considered confidential for one reason or another. It is essential that all governors take this responsibility very seriously. Regulations require that signed minutes of meetings are made available on request. The governing body will need to decide what information if any can be released earlier.
Presenting a united front
For the good of your school, the governing body must present a united front at all times. Lively debate is a healthy part of the decision making process during meetings, but it is the responsibility of all governors to support a decision once it has been reached, even if the vote went against you. The governing body’s monitoring will show if an agreed action does not have the required positive impact on the work of the school.
What can I contribute?
My skills and experience
There is no formal requirement for a governor to have any particular knowledge or experience, but all governors will need to be committed to:
● The desire to secure the best possible education for young people.
● Acting with fairness, tact, diplomacy and integrity.
● Equal opportunities.
● Working as a member of a team.
● Participating in training, development and self evaluation.
● Having a positive attitude towards resolving problems.
How to Become a School Governor
If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a governor and what it involves please contact our School and Family Support Team on 01639 763600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to go for help
The Local Authority offers a range of support including:
Training. Tel : 01639 763600
Governor Support Services: email@example.com
Tel: 01639 763600
Governors Wales: www.governorswales.org.uk
Tel: 0845 6020 100
ERW (Education through Regional Working)