Saturday, 15 October 2011

National College: Chair of Governors: Leading the Business

Working closely with the clerk to the governors,it is the chair’s responsibility to ensure that the governing body fulfils its statutory obligations and responsibilities. Governors are accountable
for the responsible and effective use of the school’s resources. The governing body will also want to ensure that sound financial management practices are in place. To this end, the Schools
Financial Value Standard (SFVS), which replaces the Financial Management Standard in Schools (FMSiS), is available from September 2011 (DfE, 2011).

With the emergence of different models of school – federations, academies and chains, for
example – these responsibilities are changing and new ones are emerging. There will also be
specific pieces of work that the governing body may need to undertake, for example recruiting a
headteacher, providing direction for changing a school’s status, or related to major building work.  The timing of the schedule of governing body and committee meetings should reflect statutory requirements, such as approving the school’s budget. In addition, the committee structure of the governing body should be reviewed annually to make sure it matches the school’s needs.

All meetings should have a formal agenda.

Minutes of the previous meeting and additional papers must be sent out at least seven days
before a meeting so that governors have a chance to prepare.

Chairing a meeting is a key skill and people will operate in different ways with varying
degrees of formality. The essential elements are to ensure that all members have the opportunity
to contribute and are listened to, discussions are open and honest, and decisions are fair and

Governing bodies should adopt a code of practice setting out the roles and expectations so that
governors understand their responsibilities and the way in which the governing body conducts its
business. The National Governors’ Association has a model version you can adapt (NGA, 2010). 


−− I s your governing body’s business focused on the priorities in the school development plan?

−− I s your school’s self-evaluation process robust and is the governing body appropriately
engaged at a strategic level in the whole process?

−− Does your clerk have a job description and do you manage the clerk’s performance?

−− I s your clerk accredited? If not, consider this route (for further details, see

−− Do you receive all papers seven days in advance of meetings?

−− Do you spend too much meeting time reviewing policies and checking compliance
rather than monitoring the impact on the children?

−− Does the vice-chair share some of the chair’s business?

−− I s your governing body delegating as much as it can to the headteacher and the senior
leadership team?

−− I s your governing body having an impact?

Have you carried out an impact assessment?

See for example the Governor Mark framework (GLM Partnership, 2009) or the
Governor Self-Evaluation Tracker at

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