How will governors approach the new school year?

Social media has been full of new starts by teachers but I was interested in another key group in education and have asked ‘ how will governors approach the new school year?’
Getting the right skills in the right places
Nowadays, the role of the board of governors is a world away from the kindly group of individuals who visit the school and nod in agreement to everything the head says. Although schools love to see governors attending school events, their role is not to just give out prizes at the end of the year and contribute to the cake stall on fair day.
No, they are there to oversee the work of the school in a strategic way. They are the guardians of the finances and answerable to parents and Ofsted. In order to carry out these roles effectively, you need the right skills around the table. The beginning of a new year invariably sees a flurry of new governors beginning their terms of office so the first one or two meetings will be all about induction and establish a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities.
Working as one
Although there are a variety of skills covering a range of roles such as governor for SEN or safeguarding together with different committees a board of governors is only as strong as it’s weakest link. Sounds very dramatic but actually, the impact that a board of governors has is when it speaks with one voice.
For this to happen, its members need the confidence to speak as well as an understanding of the types of questions to ask. With new people joining, this is often a task built into the early meetings of the year. Another item on these agendas may be communications with parents. Children starting school, especially in primaries will have parents with lots of questions and making the governing board more accessible can build good relationships for the future.
Particular agenda items
School governance is very similar in all establishments but there will be school-specific matters that will need attention and even a programme running through the year.

  • Succession planning – how long has your chair / vice chair been in post? Developing a broad of leadership takes time and needs planning.
  • Ofsted preparation – are you due an inspection? If so make sure everyone is confident about meeting the inspectors
  • Planning to become an academy – academisation is likely to be THE most important decisions governors may have to take.
  • Executive head teacher arrangments – if you have become an academy, sorting out the various responsibilities between the directors, board and executive head will be a big project

Governance / life balance
Teacher workload and their wellbeing has been a feature over on twitter all summer. Lots of ideas have been shared on how to get the balance right from looking at marking systems to spa days. But what about governors? In my own situation, there are 3 committees and the FGB each term making a minimum of 24 two hour meetings. Add to that panels, reviews, visits and the reading that goes with them all – that is quite a workload for volunteers.
So, perhaps a key item to be not only considered but agreed is how the work of the FGB is delegated so that the best results are achieved for the pupils.

Are you a governor? What is on your list for the year?

Many thanks to colleagues at School Governors UK site on Face Book for their lists! 

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