School Governors

What does a Governing Body (GB) do?

The simple answer to this is that it supports the work of the school.  It provides a different perspective from that of the staff and can help the school to plan for the future and to monitor that it is doing what it says it is doing.  It also helps to evaluate the effectiveness of the school’s activities.  In short, it acts as a critical friend.

 

What the Governing Body does not do is to get involved in the day-to-day running of the school. You must be clear that this is the responsibility of the Headteacher. Although members of the GB may have skills that they can use to support the school e.g. in finance or health and safety, it is important to remember not to tell the staff how to do their jobs. Although we probably all have an idea of what makes a good teacher, governors do not get involved in making judgements about teachers. The GB’s role is to ensure that there are arrangements in place for the Head and senior staff to monitor how staff are performing.

 

Why do schools have governing bodies?

The simple answer is to help them to fulfill their mission: to provide the best possible education for their pupils.  A governing body can do this by:

  • helping the school to set high standards by planning for the school's future and setting targets for school improvement
  • being a true friend to the school, in good times and bad times, offering the school its support, advice and challenge
  • challenging the school to continually strive for improvement in all it does
  • monitoring the progress on plans the school has for its development and monitoring the impact of these plans
  • helping the school to be responsive to the needs of the community and making the school more accountable to the public for what it does.

 

There are also some quite specific powers and duties.  Here is a list of some of the most important areas in which governors have to be active:

  • Standards - ensuring a strategic and systematic approach to promoting high standards of educational achievement.
  • Targets - settings appropriate targets for pupil achievement and monitoring results against targets.
  • Policies -deciding how, in broad strategic terms, the school should be run.
  • Finance -determining how to spend the budget allocated to the school and monitoring expenditure.
  • Staffing -deciding the number of staff, the pay policy and making decisions on staff pay.
  • Appointments -appointing the Head and Deputy Headteacher and other staff.
  • Discipline -agreeing procedures for staff conduct and discipline.
  • Inspection follow up - drawing up an action plan after inspection.
  • Complaints – see below.

 

In addition, in Voluntary Aided schools governors are responsible for religious education, collective worship, admissions, premises and the employment of staff.

 

It should be comforting to know that there are very few decisions that a governing body would have to make without the advice of the Headteacher.

 

It is very important to emphasise:

  1. that governors have responsibility at policy-making level, not in the day-by-day running of the school
  2. that authority belongs to the Governing Body as a whole; the individual governor has no power to make decisions or take action
  3. that once a decision is made, a governor accepts the collective responsibility that comes with being a governor, even if it is a decision that they argued against.

 

Complaints

Every Governing Body has adopted a Complaints Policy for its school.  This Policy must be complied with by all involved, progressing through Stages 1 (teacher level) and 2 (Headteacher level), before the Governing Body can become involved (Stage 3).  When a complaint reaches Stage 3 of the process the Governing Body’s complaints committee will need to meet to consider the complainants concerns.

 

It’s important to note that GBs and individual governors cannot be involved in dealing with concerns or complaints until the appropriate stage of the Complaints Policy (Stage 3).

 

To submit a formal complaint, a member of the public should contact the school and request a copy of its Complaints Policy if this is not available on the school’s website.

ID: 4056, revised 25/09/2018

What does a governor do?

All governors have the same powers, duties and responsibilities, irrespective of what category of governor they are.  As a governor, you are there in the interests of all children at the school.  You should not see it as an opportunity to gain any advantages for a particular child.

 

A key aspect of being a governor is asking questions.  As a governor you bring to the GB your own particular perspective and, perhaps, that of the part of the community you represent and can share these views with other members of the GB.  However, you may receive information that other members of the community are not aware of and this may influence how you vote. How individuals on the Governing Body vote should remain confidential.  The decisions made are recorded in the minutes, which are a public record, but details of discussions, and who said what, are not reported.

 

The role of a Parent Governor

Parent Governors have the same powers, duties and responsibilities as all other governors.  As a governor, they are there in the interests of all children at the school.  Parent Governors should not see it as an opportunity to gain any advantages for their own child.

 

Parent Governors bring to the Governing Body the particular perspective of a parent, ensuring that all governors are aware of the views of parents.  However, they are a representative of parents, but are not a delegate.  This means that while Parent Governors should represent the views of parents, they may also express their own views and vote according to their own beliefs on any issue. 

 

The same applies to governors representing school staff or their local council.

 

ID: 4057, revised 25/09/2018

Requirements for being a School Governor

Following a successful appointment there are a number of requirements that will be expected of a new school governor.  This could be due to government legislation or as a result of a governing body resolution that has been made.

 

DBS Disclosure

All Pembrokeshire governing bodies have resolved to have their governors checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), previously known as the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB), as a means to safeguarding the children and young people of Pembrokeshire.  The Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations make it clear that if a governing body requests a governor to undergo such a check and the governor refuses, (s)he would be disqualified from serving as a governor. 

 

If you are uncertain of whether you would be unwilling to undergo a DBS check, please consider carefully whether or not to apply for the position of school governor.  For more information on the process please contact a member of the Governors' Support Services team.

 

Governor Training

All new governors are required to complete two mandatory training sessions, Induction for New Governors and Using Data for School Improvement, within 1 year of their appointment/election.  These courses are run by the GSS team regularly, but are also available online.  Failure to complete these courses within the prescribed time period will result in suspension from being a governor for up to six months, pending completion of the training.  Failure to complete the training by the end of the suspension period will result in disqualification.

 

If you are uncertain of whether you would be willing to attend these training sessions, please consider carefully whether or not to apply for the position of school governor. For more information on the process please contact a member of the Governors' Support Services team.

 

Welsh Government Regulations require that a governor must also:

  • Be aged 18 or over at the time of his/her election or appointment.  Pupils may be governors but few are likely to be eligible
  • Not be a governor at more than two schools (unless as an ex-officio or temporary governor or an additional governor at a school causing concern)
  • Not be an ex-officio governor specified in the instrument of government of more than two schools
  • Not be bankrupt or disqualified under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 or an order made under section 429(2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986
  • Not have been removed from the office of charity trustee or trustee for a charity by the Charity Commissioners of High Court on grounds of any misconduct or mismanagement, or under section 7 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990 from being concerned in the management or control of any body
  • Not be included in the list of teachers or workers prohibited or restricted from working with children or young people (currently called List 99)
  • Not be liable to be detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
  • Not be disqualified from being a teacher, other school employee or an independent school proprietor
  • Not have been sentenced to 3 months or more in prison (without the option of a fine) in the 5 years before becoming a governor or since becoming a governor
  • Not have received a prison sentence of 2½ years or more in the 20 years before becoming a governor
  • Not at any time have received a prison sentence of 5 years or more
  • Not have been fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school premises during the 5 years prior to or since appointment or election as a governor.

 

If, having read all the information provided, you are interested in becoming a school governor, please apply using the online Application to serve as a School Governor.

 

Thanks again for your interest.

ID: 4058, revised 25/09/2018

Becoming a School Governor

Thank you for your interest in becoming a school governor.  We hope that the information we have provided helps you in making your decision. 

 

Many kinds of people become governors of schools. They all have a particular reason for serving on the governing body. The composition of a GB is regulated by Welsh Government and varies according to the category of school and the size of the school. All schools have governors in the following categories:

  • Parent governors – elected by parents of pupils at the school
  • Teacher governors – elected by teachers at the school
  • Local Authority governors – appointed by the LA

 

Governing bodies will also have some of the following governors, depending on the type of school:

  • Community governors – appointed by the GB itself
  • Additional community governors – representing the local town/community council
  • Representative governors – in Special Schools only
  • Foundation governors – appointed by the Foundation connected with the school, usually the Church
  • Staff governors – elected by the non-teaching staff of the school
  • Associate pupil governors (secondary schools) – appointed by the School Council

 

Because there are conditions attached to many categories of governors, this information may be of most use to those considering becoming parent, community or Local Authority governors who can apply to be considered for the position on a GB.

 

Parent Governors

To be a parent governor you must have a child who is a pupil at the school whose GB you are on. Parent governors are elected as representatives of the interests of parents of pupils currently attending the school and to give the perspective of a parent on decisions the GB may be making. Parents are informed of a vacancy for a parent governor position by letter distributed by the school. Information may also be shared with parents in other ways. If you wish to know when the next vacancy becomes available at your child’s school, please contact GSSAdmin@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

A parent governor can continue to serve as a governor until the end of their four year term of office, even if their child leaves the school during that period.

 

Local Authority Governors

Local Authority (LA) governors are appointed by the LA which maintains the school. LA governors may present the LAs views but they are not delegates of the LA and they cannot be mandated by the LA to take a particular view.

 

Community Governors

These governors are invited by other governors to join the governing body and are appointed by the Governing Body. Community members bring their own experience or skills to the Governing Body and can act as a link with the community in which the school serves. Community governors usually live or work in the community of the school area and are committed to the good government and success of the school.

 

Skills and Experience

Governing Bodies and the LA should aim to appoint governors with specific knowledge, experience and skills to ensure that the GB has access to a broad skillset overall.  Some of the key areas a GB may be interested in are:

  • Challenge and accountability
  • Communication
  • Discretion
  • Financial management
  • Health and safety
  • HR and recruitment
  • Impartiality
  • Interpreting data
  • Leadership
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Strategic planning

 

Time Commitment

A GB, by law, has to meet at least once per term.  This meeting is likely to take between one and two hours.  Some schools have their meetings at the end of the school day, others in the early evening.  Occasionally, a GB may need to meet more often than this. You are also likely to be on a committee which, again, is likely to meet once per term.  You must also set aside time to prepare for meetings by reading paperwork in advance and should also be prepared to attend other school events and, occasionally, to visit the school during the working day, by arrangement with the Headteacher.  You may also be asked if you are available to serve on a statutory committee to deal with a pupil exclusion or a staff disciplinary matter. Fortunately, these are rare.

As you probably know, all governors are unpaid volunteers, so you may need to check with your employer about being allowed time off for meetings. It is very important that, as well as the skills, you have the time and commitment to give to the GB. The GB is a team and is reliant on all members contributing fully.

 

If you are still interested in becoming a school governor, please read the other sections before completing the online application form.  We particularly welcome applications for the position of LA and community governors to broaden the pool of people from which appointments can be made, even if there is currently no vacancy at a school near you. We will keep your information on file until a vacancy arises at which time we will share it with those making the appointment.

 

Information on how GSS handles data is available.

 

To discuss the role of school governor further, please contact:

Steve Stretch
Governors’ Support Services Manager
01437 775132
steve.stretch@pembrokeshire.gov.uk
ID: 4054, revised 25/09/2018

Contact the Governors' Support Team

Steve Stretch - Manager

Steve leads the team providing support and advice to governors on governing body procedures and Welsh Government regulations.

Steve works closely with challenge advisers on aspects of school improvement, disseminates information and guidance, leads some governor training courses and writes training materials. He is responsible for establishing the temporary governing bodies of new schools, attending their meetings and supporting schools considering federation arrangements.

Steve's other responsibilities include Emergency School Closures.

Telephone: (01437) 775132

E-mail: steve.stretch@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

 

Charlie Blythe - Administrative Officer

Charlie supports the Manager in the day-to-day running of the Governors’ Support Service. As well as providing advice, support and information to governors, she also attends a number of governing body meetings as minute clerk.

Charlie prepares meeting schedules, agenda and other documentation, and oversees the production of minutes, reports and training programmes. She also maintains and updates the website.

Tel : ( 01437 ) 775103
E-Mail : Charlotte.Blythe@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

 

Jane Logan and Jane Stiles - Administrative Assistants

Jane and Jane are the Governors' Support Services Administrative Assistants, supporting both the Manager and Administrative Officer in their roles. Jane and Jane act as minute clerks to several governing bodies and prepare the meeting packs for all termly full governing body meetings. They are responsible for the production of the training programme, and ensure the effective administration of all governor training including arranging self-review sessions and bespoke training, and maintaining and updating governors' training records.

Jane and Jane maintain the governing body membership database, and assist the team in giving advice, support and guidance to governors.

Telephone: (01437) 775939

E-mail: GSSAdmin@pembrokeshire.gov.uk

 

Postal Address

Governors' Support Services
Education Services
County Hall
Haverfordwest
Pembrokeshire
SA61 1TP

ID: 1263, revised 25/09/2018