What do Governors do?
Langley Grammar School’s Governing Body has strategic responsibility for the School. So what is the Governing Body, who are the Governors and what do they actually do?
What is school governance?
Governance is about overseeing the success of the school. It is about agreeing priorities and monitoring progress towards them. It is not about running or managing the school – that is the job of the Headteacher and senior staff. Governance is about providing constructive support and challenge to the school’s leaders to enable them to do their job to the best of their ability. Strong governance is becoming all the more essential as schools become more autonomous.
The Government and Ofsted have high expectations of governing bodies to:
- set the vision and ethos
- establish strategic direction
- promote high standards of educational achievement
- appoint the Headteacher and hold them to account for the performance of students and staff
- oversee the financial performance of the school, making sure money is well spent.
Langley Grammar School’s governance structure
In April 2011, Langley Grammar School was given permission by the Secretary of State for Education to convert to an academy. An academy is an independent school reporting directly to the Department for Education rather than answerable to a Local Authority. Over 1200 secondary schools across the country are now academies.
In accordance with the Academies Act 2010, the Langley Grammar School Academy Trust was formed and registered at Companies House. It is this Academy Trust that enters into a Funding Agreement with the Secretary of State in order to receive funding directly from Department for Education. The Academy Trust is a charitable company limited by guarantee and has five Members who are the original signatories to the legal agreement establishing it. After the Academy Trust was set up the Members appointed a further group of Governors to the Governing Body.
The Role of Members of the Academy Trust Company
The Academy Trust Members have a constitutional role in the running of the Academy, in the sense that they ensure that the Academy Trust works to achieve its charitable Object. The Object of the Academy Trust Company are set out in the Articles of Association, which specify how the Trust should operate. All Academy Trusts have a similar Object, which is to:“...advance for the public benefit education in the United Kingdom...by establishing, maintaining, carrying on, managing and developing a school offering a broad and balanced curriculum.”
So what does the Governing Body do?
The Governing Body effectively owns the school, including the buildings and the land, and is responsible for everything that goes on in the school. The Governing Body’s responsibility is for the strategic direction and development of the school; the leadership and management of the school is the responsibility of the Headteacher and the senior staff.
Governors help to make decisions about the school’s long-term goals. Governors both support and challenge the Headteacher by asking questions to make sure the school is heading in the direction agreed by the Governing Body. They monitor various aspects of the school’s performance such as the curriculum, student outcomes and the school’s finances.
Who can be a School Governor?
Anyone over 18 years of age can be a school governor and you don’t necessarily have to be a parent with a child at the school.
Langley Grammar School has three categories of governor:
- Parent Governors are parents or legal guardians with a child at the school and are elected by ballot of the parents.
- Community Governors are appointed by the Governing Body; they have expertise or experience that would be useful to the strategic management of the school.
- Staff Governors are current members of staff who are elected by ballot of the staff, together with the Headteacher.
- Co-opted Governors are additional governors appointed by the governing body if required
The most important qualities required for being a governor are enthusiasm and commitment together with an interest in education and the development of young people. Governors don’t need teaching experience, but it is useful if they can bring knowledge and experience from other walks of life to the Governing Body so it has as wide a range of skills available as possible.
What does the role involve?
The strategic work of the Governing Body takes place at the full Governing Body meetings which all governors are expected to attend. More detailed work such as monitoring standards, questioning and probing the School’s performance, and reviewing essential policies is carried out in the sub-committees.
To help with effective discussion, support and decision making, the Governing Body has four subcommittees. All governors serve on at least one of these sub committees.
Teaching & Learning
Responsible for overseeing academic standards, the curriculum provision, and the quality assurance of teaching. Meets once every term.
Students, Staff and Community
Responsible for student welfare and personal development, safeguarding, staff development and wellbeing, and the School’s relationships with the community. Meets once every term.
Responsible for overseeing and approving teaching staff pay progression. Meets annually.
Responsible for financial stability and management, health and safety, and the school’s physical resources. Normally meets 4-5 times per year.
The time spent on the governor role depends partly on which committees governors join and their willingness and capacity to get involved. Being a governor is a busy role and involves quite a lot of background reading as well as attending meetings and visiting the school.
How do I become a Governor?
When parent governor vacancies arise, parents are informed and the election process described. Candidates are nominated by other parents and a vote takes place if there are more candidates than vacancies. Community Governor vacancies are posted on the school website or advertised in the local press. If you would like more information about our work or becoming a governor at Langley Grammar School, please contact the Clerk to the Governors by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or via the school office.
More information about school governors in general is available from https://www.gov.uk/schools-colleges/governance and many other websites.