Saturday, 19 February 2011

Principles of School Governance: The strategic role

The strategic role

The Terms of Reference Regulations also clearly state that the role of the governing body is strategic. Accompanying guidance defines such a role as 'setting up a strategic framework for the school, setting its aims and objectives, setting policies and targets for achieving the objectives, reviewing progress and reviewing the strategic framework in the light of progress'. What does this mean in practice?

Strategy is to do with setting a course, deciding on a route, looking to the future for the school, thinking about what the school needs to achieve and plotting how to get from where it is now to where you would like it to be in the future. Strategy must be worked out in partnership with the headteacher and senior staff – even if the headteacher is one of the few who choose not to be a governor.

Setting the school's strategic direction includes:

Determining the school’s mission and ethos in the context of developing a strategy for longer-term development.
Approving each year the School Development/Improvement Plan, its targets and the allied budget plan, and making links between them. This should reflect the school’s longer-term strategy.
Setting policies on matters such as performance management, recruitment and development of staff, pay, curriculum, organisation of the school and, where appropriate, admissions. You should make sure that these are consonant with each other and with the overall strategy.
Appointing the headteacher.
But first, playing a strategic role means setting out aims and values for the school.

Although some aims and values seem to be self-evident, identifying them can often be a hard job. Most of us could happily sign up to the aim ‘creating a successful school where all pupils reach their full potential’. But what that means for different pupils in different schools can vary. In a school where most pupils regularly achieve a high degree of exam success, reaching full potential may well focus on ‘rounding out’ the educational experience in terms of music, drama or sport. In schools where academic success is less easily achieved across the board, a wide variety of academic and vocational curriculum goals may be more appropriate. For specialist schools and schools with a religious denomination, the aims will reflect the particular curriculum specialism or faith.

Governing bodies can often be made up of people with different perspectives, so discussions of the aims do not always easily lead to consensus. However, it is the process of reaching agreement that is the key. The discussions may well be more important than the outcome because it is in having them that you confront the unstated ideas that you have about the school.

When finalised, a school’s aims and values are often encapsulated in a mission statement.

The material in this blog article has been drawn from Joined-up Governance book by Jane Martin and Ann Holt, revised edition 2010,Adamson Publishing.

It was reproduced on the website which you can sunscribe to for free here

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