The role of the governing body is to focus on three strategic functions:
ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff; and
overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
The governing body of Devonshire Primary School fulfils this role by the following means.
- The governing body has built a productive and supportive relationship with the Headteacher while holding him to account for school performance and taking hard strategic decisions in the light of objective data. Special termly meetings are held for governors to analyse anonymised pupil attainment and progress prepared by the Deputy Headteacher and anonymised data relating the performance of class teachers prepared by the Headteacher. The governors hold the Headteacher to account for any under-performance that appears from this data as well as external data such as RAISEonline, the Ofsted Data Dashboard and Sutton schools' benchmarking data.
- Governors work with the Headteacher and senior management team of the school to decide what they want the school to achieve and set the framework for getting there (the strategic framework) by:
Governors regularly review the school development plan to ensure that it accurately reflects the priorities of the school.
- setting, monitoring and reviewing suitable aims and objectives,
- agreeing, monitoring and reviewing policies,targets and priorities.
- The governing body obtains and reviews information, including data and reports from the Headteacher, the Deputy Headteacher, the Assistant Headteachers, including the Assistant Headteacher with responsibility for SEND (special educational needs and disability) and inclusion, and other subject leaders (via reports from each governor with a special responsibility) that enable it to fulfil its role and in particular answer the questions in relation to the school:
- Where are we?
- Where do we want to be?
- How do we get there?
- The governing body regularly reviews the school's self evaluation statement and provides input and comment as appropriate.
- Members of the governing body with specific skills work with the Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher, Assistant Headteachers, Bursar and subject leaders in drawing up policies that support the school's key objectives and reflect changing legal requirements.
- The governing body ensures its governors have the necessary skills and commitment,including to challenge the school to bring about improvement and hold leaders to account for performance. The governing body has a designated training lead who is proactive in informing governors of appropriate courses and governors attend relevant courses. The vice-chair acts as mentor for new governors. All governors attend meetings and committee meetings of the governing body, save in exceptional circumstances. Individual governors take responsibility for specific areas, meeting with school/subject leaders and reporting back to the governing body, drawing on their diverse expertise and knowledge. The governing body currently has governors with professional experience in IT, finance, sales, management, training, law, education, HR, medicine and market research.
- The governing body has appointed an effective chair to lead and manage the governing body, with delegation to the vice-chair of governors and chairs of the committees of the governing body as appropriate.
- Governors have appointed a high quality clerk to advise them on the nature of their functions and duties and ensure the governing body operates efficiently and effectively. Members of the governing body committees prepare detailed minutes of committee meetings to enable all governors to be aware of matters discussed at those meetings and for a full report to be made at governing body meetings.
- The governing body evaluates its performance regularly in the light of Ofsted expectations and other good practice and makes changes as necessary to improve their effectiveness. The chair of the governing body has initiated self-evaluation by each governor to ensure that the governing body has the appropriate skills to fulfil its role. Members of the Finance committee evaluate their skills each year so that the chair of that committee can ensure that members have the appropriate skills to carry out their duties on that committee and between the members, the committee has all necessary skills. The governing body adapts its committee structure to effectively carry out the tasks delegated by the governing body to its committees.
In carrying out their role all governors have regard to the Governors' Handbook (DfE, November 2015) and in particular the following guiding principles in the Handbook that governors should:
"[S]et and safeguard a school ethos of high expectations of everyone in the school community. This includes high expectations for the behaviour, progress and attainment of all pupils in the school, and for the conduct and professionalism of both staff and governors."
"[E]nsure that the school's ethos promotes the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs; and encourage [pupils] to respect other people, with particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the Equality Act 2010. The governing body should ensure that this ethos is reflected and implemented effectively in school policy and practice and that there are effective risk assessments in place to safeguard and promote [pupils'] welfare."
"[A]ct with integrity, objectivity and honesty and in the best interests of the school; and be open about the decisions they make and the actions they take and be prepared to explain their decisions and actions to interested parties."
"[B]e aware of and accept the seven principles of public life, as set out by Lord Nolan and applying to anyone, locally and nationally, who is elected or appointed as a public office-holder. They are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership."