Monday, 17 January 2011

The collective nature of school governing

The collective nature of school governing

A powerful and substantive matter to emerge from the 'Hidden Givers' data was the importance of viewing the governing of schools as a collective activity in which the headteachers, members of staff and lay members collaborate in the governance of the school. From this standpoint, the governing body should not be viewed simply as ‘an external body’ calling the leadership of the school, that is, the headteacher and senior staff,to account. The work of a good governing body is more sophisticated than that. The school leadership and the governing body are “two sides of the same coin” and the valuable coin is of course, good governance.

Where the collective nature of governance is weak, that is, where there is a serious discrepancy between the authority of the headteacher and the Chair of Governors/governing body, it is likely that the governance will be weak.

Sound working relationships appeared to be the key to collective governing. They were emphasised as being important in good governing in the schools we studied. However, such relationships will only have significant value if they are between players who have authority. So, for example, a headteacher who lacks capability and a Chair of Governors who similarly lacks capability may add value to each other’s capability.

However, such a relationship is not likely to be as productive in a governing sense as a relationship between a headteacher and Chair of Governors with a high level of capability. Part of the relationship’s capability is enabling the other(s) to take up their role.

The most beneficial outcome of collective governance is the securing of the school as an institution. From the stories 'Hidden givers' collated during the data collection, the 'hidden givers report' researchers were struck by how fragile schools are as institutions. Significant events and incidents can impact on schools, even the best ones, which can potentially change them dramatically and need to be managed. We would argue that collective governance, where the school is appropriately ‘held’ by a group who have a significant interest init, is the best way to secure schools as important institutions.

This research was taken from The full 'Hidden Givers' A study of School Governing bodies which can be found linked below.

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