Why does a school need a Governing Body?
Governing Bodies represent the public in the running of the school, bringing perspectives from ordinary life. They work with staff and the Local Authority to help the school provide the best possible education for all children and young people.
Who can be a Governor?
Governors represent all sections of our community: parents, staff at the school, residents in the locality or representatives of local churches or businesses. It is important that any Governor can work as part of a team, and can give commitment to the school.
You don't have to have children at the school to be a governor. No specific qualifications are required but there are certain expectations. What's really important is that you have energy, enthusiasm, time and a real desire to help provide children with the best possible education.
However, you do have to be over 18, and pass a formal check for your suitability to be within a school. No one can serve if they are barred from working with children or vulnerable adults, if they have severe mental illness such that they may be liable to be detained under the mental health act or if they are an un-discharged bankrupt. People with certain criminal convictions are ineligible depending on the nature of the offence and sentence and how long ago the offence took place:
- not have been sentenced to three months or more in prison (without the option of a fine) in the five years before becoming a governor
- not have received a prison sentence of 2.5 years or more in the 20 years before becoming a governor
- not have at any time received a prison sentence of five years or more
- not have been fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school premises during the five years prior to or since appointment or election as a governor
- not be disqualified from working with children
- Although full criminal records checks are not routinely required at the moment, any governor who refused to apply for one when asked to do so would be disqualified.
There are a few other restrictions which help protect the balance of interests on governing bodies. For example Local Councillors are eligible to be appointed as LA governors but not as a foundation governors. There is also a requirement that people who are paid to work in the school for more than 500 hours in a year will not be able to be appointed to any category other than staff governor in that school
How do I become a Governor?
A foundation governor is appointed by the Archdiocese. If you are interested in becoming a foundation governor, please speak to your Parish Priest and complete an application form.
If you are interesting in becoming a parent governor, you can nominate yourself when a vacancy arises. Vacancies will be advertised to all parents and carers when the term of office of a current serving parent governor is coming to an end. Once nominations have been received, all parents and carers are then invited to vote for the nominee that they want to be elected and the nominee with the highest number of votes will be elected.
Are Governors paid?
No, all of our Governors are volunteers and there is no payment for carrying out the role.
What are Governors expected to do?
Governors are expected to:
- Maintain confidentiality at ALL times
- Attend 3 full Governing Body meetings throughout the year, lasting 2 hours
- Attend training sessions and provide feedback.
- Attend committee meetings (at most, each committee meets once per half term, but most meet just once per term).
- Take responsibility for a curriculum area or school focus
- Visit school and meet with the Head Teacher, staff, children or parents to quality assure information reported, providing a short written report of the visit.
What is the role of the Chair of Governors?
An effective Chair of Governors:
- Works with the Head Teacher to promote and maintain high standards of education
- Ensures that the Governing Body maintains a clear school vision, ethos and strategic direction
- With the Governing Body holds the Head Teacher to account for quality of teaching and learning and outcomes for pupils
- Ensures effective use of the schools resources, including the school's financial performance
The Chair of governors will do this through:
- Leading effective governance: giving the Governing Body a clear lead and direction; securing an effective team who understand their accountability and role in driving school improvement.
- Building the team: attracting Governors with the necessary skills to fulfil the collective responsibilities of the Governing Body.
- Relationship with the Headteacher: Being a critical friend by offering support, challenge and encouragement, holding the Headteacher to account and ensuring the headteacher’s performance management is rigorous and robust
- Improving our school: ensuring school improvement is the focus of all policy and strategy decisions and that governor scrutiny, monitoring and challenge reflect school improvement priorities.
- Leading the business: ensuring that statutory requirements and regulations are met, that the school provides value for money in its use of resources and that governing body business is conducted efficiently and effectively.
The chair plays a crucial role in setting the culture of the Governing Body and is first among equals, but has no individual power. All power and authority rest with the Governing Body as a whole. However, on occasions, the chair may need to take emergency action, but this must then be reported to the whole Governing Body.
For more information see the NCTL document: Leading governors: The role of the chair of governors in schools and academies)