Roles and Responsibilities
School governance has changed rapidly over recent years and the role of school and academy governance has never been so pivotal in ensuring the improvement of educational performance and opportunities for all children.
Governing boards are made up of people from a variety of backgrounds who can contribute their skills and experience to what is one of the most important voluntary roles in schools and academies. Through their strategic leadership, governing boards are key to improving performance and ensuring that resources are used effectively so that every child has the best possible education.
The framework for inspection reflects the importance of the role of governors and, through inspection, Ofsted have identified that evidence indicates that there is a relationship between effective governance, the quality of leadership and management, and the quality of provision and pupil achievement.
The governing board is responsible for making key decisions alongside the senior leadership team, who are responsible for the day to day management of the school. It is important to recognise the difference between the governing board's strategic role and the head teacher’s/principal’s management role.
The roles and responsibilities of a governing board fall into following three key areas:
Challenge and Support
The term ‘challenge and support’ is a term used frequently in relation to schools governance. In conducting their roles, governors should not be afraid to ask challenging questions of the school leadership team about the performance of the school; however, this should be done in a supportive and productive manner. Governors need to be as knowledgeable as possible in order for them to make the right decisions concerning school policy and procedure.
The governing board are there to build the foundations for robust policies and processes within which its work can be conducted effectively and with suitable internal checks and accountabilities. In order to do this there has to be a vision and an aim for the school; a strategic direction.
To establish this direction the governing board should:
- Decide what it wants the school to achieve and set the framework for getting there.
- Agree the vision, values, ethos, plans, policies and targets and review progress
- Agree the school improvement strategy
- Monitor and evaluate the work of the school
- Oversees the self-evaluation process
Whilst the Governing Board has a strategic function, the head teacher/principal is responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the school. It is vital that the Governing Board develops an effective relationship with the head teacher who will provide valuable information on the performance of the school. In the majority of schools and academies, the head teacher/principal chooses to be a member of the governing board and therefore will have a dual role. In the position of governor they are part of the strategic planning body within the school and in their role as head teacher they are responsible for implementing the strategic framework agreed by the governing board.
The Governing Board requires the Head Teacher to provide relevant material on data and performance, but governors should not rely on this as a sole means of information. Governors should be able to demonstrate their ability to seek out information for themselves using resources such as RAISE Online or the Ofsted Data Dashboard. Challenging the school leadership team on this data and holding them to account is a tool for improvement which will benefit the school as a whole.
The head teacher in their operational role has a clear responsibility for managing the school on a daily basis. It is the head teacher who is ultimately accountable to the governing board for a school that runs smoothly with staff working effectively, rules and procedures followed and were children are happy and safe. The head teacher is also responsible for the quality of teaching and learning and, as the manager of this complex environment he or she communicates on the school’s behalf with the parents and other partners involved with the school.
The governing board in their strategic role works with the head teacher to plan the strategic direction of the school and ensures that the policies and procedures in place are effective. The overall legal responsibility for this rests with the governing board and not with individual governors. In deciding the strategic direction, the governing board should also communicate and take into account the views of parents and partners.