Tuesday, 11 October 2011

National College: Relationship with the headteacher

The relationship between the chair and the headteacher is one of the most important working relationships in the school. The chair of governors and the headteacher are both school
leaders and their overall purpose is essentially the same – it is their way of working that differs.

An effective working relationship with the headteacher allows the chair to act as a critical
friend, offering challenge, support, advice and encouragement as required. A strong partnership
will enable the school to achieve the highest standards of teaching and learning for the benefit of all pupils and staff. As chair, it is your responsibility to ensure that there is rigorous and robust performance management of the headteacher, including setting relevant targets that contribute towards school improvement. 

Meeting regularly is important, particularly when either the chair or the headteacher is new, but weekly face-to-face meetings are not obligatory and meetings can be supplemented by telephone conversations or email. It is up to you to devise a system that works for you both, given all your other commitments. You also need to ensure that all the governors know and have some links with the headteacher, otherwise the relationship between headteacher and chair can appear exclusive.

Strategic decision-making is carried out by the governing body, drawing on proposals from the
headteacher. Unless given a very specific role by the governing body, chairs do not have decision making powers as individuals. Operational decisions (other than very specific ones) should be left to the headteacher and her or his staff
School leaders should not be micromanaged and it is part of the chair’s role to ensure that the governing body understands the difference between strategic and operational decision making.
It is useful to share with your governing body the publication What governing bodies can
expect from their school leaders and what school leaders can expect from their governing bodies (NGA, ASCL and NAHT).

Some key points to consider

-- Explore your expectations of the relationship with the headteacher. Are they the same or
are you each making (different) assumptions?

-- Do the arrangements for keeping in touch suit both parties?

-- How effective is your critical friendship?
    Could it be improved?

-- In which areas of work would you and the headteacher benefit from joint training?

Taken from http://www.nationalcollege.org.uk/chairsofgovernors Leading Governors Booklet

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