How we work

As a rule of thumb, governing bodies meet once every half-term, as a Full Governing Body, where the ongoing business of committees, the governing body and the school are discussed, reported on and where decisions are taken by a majority vote. Most of the work of governors, however, is done at committee level.

Membership

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, every state school has a Governing Body, consisting of specified numbers of various categories of governors depending on the type and size of school. All governors are unpaid for their work, though they may receive payment for expenses.

Generally the following categories are applicable:

  • Parent Governors: parents (ideally of children at the school)
  • Staff Governors: members of the school staff
  • LA Governors: nominated by the Local Authority
  • Community Governors: members of the local community (appointed by the rest of the governing body)
  • Occasionally:  Foundation and Sponsor Governors: representatives of any sponsoring bodies

The proportions vary between differing types of school, but as an example, in Community Schools, which are usually owned by the LEA, the regulations prescribe that parent governors should be at least one-third of the governors, staff governors at least two places, but no more than one-third, including the headteacher; LEA governors 20% and community governors at least 20%. The minimum number of governors is nine, the maximum is twenty (although sponsor governors are additional to these numbers). Governors are appointed for a maximum of four years, this term is renewable.

The Headteacher of each school is ex officio a staff governor, but he or she can decline to take up the position. Should they decide not to become a member of the governing body, their place is left vacant.

Staff governors (other than the head teacher) are elected by the school staff and must be paid to work at the school, by the school (that is, not under an external contract such as catering or cleaning). At least one staff governor must be a teacher, and if there are three or more staff governors, at least one must be a member of the support staff. If no member of the appropriate category stands for election, the vacant place can be filled by an elected person from the other category (i.e. if no teachers wish to become governors, all staff governors may be support staff, and vice-versa).

Parent governors can either be elected by parents of children at the school, or if insufficient numbers are elected, can be appointed by the governing body to fill any remaining vacancies. Such appointees need not be parents of children currently attending the school - if no suitable candidates are found, they may be parents of former pupils, or of any child of school age. Parents so appointed can be removed from their positions by a majority vote of the governing body.

Associate members may be appointed by the governing body as members of committees, and may include pupils, school staff, or anyone else who the governing body feel could contribute to its work. Their voting rights are decided by the governing body, and are also limited by law to exclude matters concerning the budget, admissions, pupil discipline and the election or appointment of governors.

As a rule of thumb, governing bodies meet once every half-term, as a Full Governing Body, where the ongoing business of committees, the governing body and the school are discussed, reported on and where decisions are taken by a majority vote. Most of the work of governors, however, is done at committee level.

Chair of Governing Body

The Governing Body is led by the Chair, elected by the Governing Body from within its membership, though Staff Governors, including the Head, cannot stand for the office. Since 1st September 2003, the term of office for the Chair can be set to more than one year. The Chair is supported in their work by one or more Vice Chairs, who may be delegated certain tasks or responsibilities. Certain tasks, including signing off the school budget, can only be done by the Chair. The Full Governing Body can remove the Chair and/or Vice Chair by a majority vote of no confidence.

Clerk to the Governing Body

The governors are supported in their work by a Clerk to the Governing Body. In many schools this role is combined with that of Bursar or Administrative Officer, although they may also be employed solely in a clerking role. In some areas clerking services may be provided by the Local Educational Authority. as is the case in Green Dragon. The Clerk is remunerated for their work.

The Clerk is usually considered an integral part of the Governing Body, although they are not entitled to vote. Their role is primarily one of providing advice and interpretation on the regulatory and administrative framework in which governors work, preparing and distributing minutes and agendas, keeping records and dealing with correspondence.

Responsibilities

The headteacher of the school is responsible for day-to-day management of the school. The role of the full Governing Body is to provide strategic management, and to act as a "critical friend", supporting the work of the headteacher and other staff.

Schools generally have a delegated budget to cover salaries, running costs, maintenance and equipment; the Governing Body is responsible for managing this budget. They can decide how many and what types of staff to employ, which equipment to upgrade or replace and what the priorities are for implementing new strategies and initiatives.

Governors must appoint the headteacher, and may be involved in the appointment of other staff.

Governors also have a role in monitoring the school's progress, and in setting annual targets for the school's performance and for the headteacher (and ensuring that the headteacher sets targets for other staff).

Governors must review school exclusions in certain circumstances, and have the power to reinstate an excluded pupil or reduce the term of the exclusion (although not to increase it).

Voluntary Aided schools and Academies act as their own admissions authorities. In such schools the governing body sets the admissions policy, makes admissions decisions and defends admissions appeals.

Committees

Most Governing Bodies use a committee structure to undertake their monitoring and evaluation roles. Membership and terms of reference of committees must be determined annually. Green Dragon has a Strategic Development Committee and Educational Strategy Committee. Other areas covered by committees may include marketing, discipline and management. Many Governing Bodies form working groups to tackle specific problems. Since 1st September 2003, particular committees can be given delegated powers to make decisions about the school that do not then require any approval by the Full Governing Body

Training

Governors and clerks can be offered training and support either by the local authority, by central government or by other organisations.

Support Organisations

There are a number of organisations, websites and resources that support governors and governing bodies in England and Wales.

The National Governor's Association is the representative body for school governors in England. The NGA is an independent charity. Governors can join the NGA as individuals, as members of a governing body, or through their local governors' association.

The School Governors' One-Stop Shop (SGOSS) is a government funded charity tasked with recruiting governors to governing bodies in England. SGOSS also receives support from business organisations. The SGOSS service is free to Local Authorities, volunteers, employers and schools.

GovernorLine offers free, confidential advice, information and support to school governors, clerks and individuals involved directly in the governance of maintained schools in England. The GovernorLine number (from a UK line) is 08000 722 181. GovernorLine is a free service delivered by an organisation called WorkLife Support under contract to the UK government.

GovernorNet is a UK government website with information for school governors.

Please view the pdf documents below to view the terms of reference for the Strategic Development Committee & the Educational Strategy Committee.. Reading these will help you to understand the role of these committees.

If you are interested in the work of this committee and would like to know more contact the chair, Andrew Lawrence, via the school office.  Andrew will arrange a time to meet up with you.