What do governors do?

The governing body’s main aim is to help raise standards of achievement and make sure the school provides a good quality education.

The day-to-day management of the school is the responsibility of the headteacher and staff. Rather than manage, governors are there to help shape the school’s future direction and focus.

Governors work as a team. Individual governors have no power or responsibility. It is only the full governing body which has legal duties and powers and all governors share in that corporate responsibility.

Governors are at the heart of how a school operates. It’s important they get things right. How they do their job affects the interests of pupils, staff morale and how the school is seen by parents and others in the community. They are not there to rubber stamp decisions. Governors are responsible for how the school is performing. They have to be prepared to support and challenge their headteacher by gathering views, asking questions and deciding what’s best for the pupils.

The task can be divided into three main roles – providing a strategic overview, acting as a critical friend to the school and ensuring accountability.

The roles of a school governor

The strategic role

  • helps to set standards and targets for performance for the school
  • has an overview of the curriculum
  • helps to set policies for itself and the school
  • selects the head and deputy headteacher
  • makes decisions about the school’s budget and staffing
  • delivers effective planning, including post-inspection duties
  • makes sure the school provides for all its pupils, including those with special needs
  • decides how the school can encourage pupils’ spiritual, moral and cultural development.

The critical friend

  • the governing body has a good working relationship and regular meetings with the headteacher
  • it can therefore monitor how well the school is doing, and how well policies and plans are being implemented
  • the governing body will get to know the school well, and have clear lines of responsibility between it, the headteacher and the various school committees.

Ensuring accountability

The governing body gets regular reports from the headteacher. It provides information to the Local Authority (LA) and parents by producing:

  • an annual report to parents, backed up by an annual parents meeting
  • a school prospectus
  • a post-inspection action plan.

Governors attend school events and regular meetings, and read relevant reports and background papers. You can expect to attend around 3–4 meetings every term, either full meetings of the governing body or appointment, admissions and exclusion panels.

The role of the LA governor

LA governors are no different from other governors in their main duty to support school improvement. However, they are expected to take a broader view and act in the interests of the entire community rather than focus on a particular group or interest. They can also help to facilitate communication between the LA and the governing body of the school.

LA governors still act solely in the interests of the school as a whole, just like any other governor – they remain independent are not expected to reflect the views of the LA.