Effective Practice

Here you will find effective practice from a range of sources, that may help you with your journey to become an excellent governing body.


Digital Governing Body Self-Evaluation Tool

The e-toolkit enables you to review the way your governing body works to identify strengths and areas for improvement. This is an innovative provision based around Estyn’s inspection framework which will help your governing body improve its knowledge and efficiency in a streamlined way. Key documents can be uploaded easily and shared with governor members. Sections of the toolkit can be completed at any time, that suits the governing body. The annual fee is £38.48 plus VAT.

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National model policies

Charging for school activities – Welsh Government School toilets – Welsh Government

Disciplinary and dismissal procedures for school staff – Welsh Government Sex Education – Welsh Government

Online safety, includes social media – SWGfL Substance misuse – Welsh Government

School complaints procedures – Welsh Government Whistleblowing – Welsh Government


Estyn

Rhos Street School, Denbighshire – Creating a strategic framework Pupil participation: a best practice guide

Llansannor C.I.W. Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan – Strong leadership and strategic plans for school improvement Trinant Primary School, Caerphilly – Governing body help strengthen school improvement

Glasllwch Primary School, Newport – Using distributed leadership to drive improvement Ysgol Gynradd Bontnewydd, Gwynedd – Supporting governors to fulfil their role more effectively


Estyn Inspection Reports – Leadership – Excellent


Barry Island Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan (2020)
Governors understand their roles and responsibilities well. They conduct effective termly and sub-committee meetings. They link, according to their strengths, to specific curriculum areas. For example, governors responsible for literacy or wellbeing foster useful links with the relevant school staff to monitor the development of their areas of responsibility. As a result most governors have a good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses. They are very supportive of the school and contribute successfully to the self-evaluation process through looking at pupils’ work, taking part in learning walks and through interviews with curriculum leaders. Leaders and governors monitor the budget effectively and ensure that the school secures value for money. They make prudent decisions to ensure that financial planning conforms to regulations and meets the needs of the school.


Bedwas Infant School, Caerphilly (2020)
The governing body is highly supportive of the school. Many governors undertake monitoring activities that enable them to engage fully in discussion, particularly about pupils’ wellbeing. This ensures that governors have a very good understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for development, enabling them to challenge the school successfully to improve standards and ensure provision of high quality.


Birchgrove Primary School, Swansea (2016)
The governing body is strategic in its actions and highly supportive of the school’s work. Governors have a good understanding of the school’s performance through discussions with pupils, undertaking ‘learning walks’ and receiving detailed reports from the headteacher and other members of the senior leadership team. They have a secure grasp of the school’s performance relative to that of other similar schools. Their role in monitoring the quality of the provision and challenging leaders and managers has contributed to the significant improvements made by the school, for example in literacy, numeracy and attendance.


Bishop of Llandaff CIW High School, Cardiff (2018)
The governing body has a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for development. It makes very good use of the skills and experience of individual members to contribute to the school’s strategic agenda. Governors monitor the school’s progress towards achieving its goals and provide very robust challenge on all matters. A wide range of stakeholders, including senior leaders, teaching staff, members of the student congress and representatives from the governing body, make valuable contributions to the school improvement plan. It is ambitious and comprehensive.


Bryntirion Comprehensive School, Bridgend (2016)
Governors understand their roles well, and provide a clear sense of direction for the school. They know its strengths and weaknesses, the departments and subjects that perform well and those that are not performing to the high standards required. The standards committee provides effective challenge to departments. Governors understand and use data very well to effectively support and challenge the school on its performance.


Cardiff High School, Cardiff (2019)
Governors know and understand the school’s strengths and areas for improvement well. They support the headteacher and the senior leadership team effectively to deliver their vision for the school. They have the knowledge and expertise to challenge leaders to continually reflect and improve all aspects of the school’s work, when necessary.


Clwyd Primary School, Swansea (2022)
The governing body understands and discharges its duties effectively. Governors have a secure understanding of the school’s improvement priorities and the rationale behind these. They understand their role in supporting the school to implement its improvement strategy. The chair of governors is in charge of the adjoining children’s centre and this promotes positive collaborative working with the pre-school setting. Governors contribute appropriately to monitoring activity and this helps them to keep up to date with the school’s progress in implementing improvement work. They ensure that the school has appropriate arrangements to promote healthy eating and drinking.


Cowbridge Comprehensive School, Vale of Glamorgan (2019)
Governors play an important role in setting the school’s strategic vision. They have a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and improvement priorities, and offer valuable support and challenge to leaders.


Cwmfelinfach Primary School, Caerphilly (2016)
The governing body provides a strong level of support for the school and challenges school leaders appropriately. Members of the governing body undertake learning walks regularly and are beginning to provide useful feedback on their findings to school staff. They have a secure understanding of the school’s performance relative to that of other similar schools. The governing body is an active, reassuring partner in judging the school’s progress and strategic priorities. Governors have a sound oversight of the improvement plan’s implementation through regular summary reports on progress from the headteacher. However, their role in self-evaluation is at an early stage of development.


Ewloe Primary School, Flintshire (2018)
The governing body carries out its statutory duties diligently and effectively, providing an appropriate balance of challenge and support. The dialogue between governors and senior leaders is purposeful and productive. As a result, governors have a thorough understanding of the school’s performance and co-operate closely and effectively with leaders to ensure a clear strategic direction. Individual members support the school’s activities effectively, for example, by supporting more able and talented pupils in science and mathematics and in leading aspects of the school’s performing arts productions.


Fitzalan High School, Cardiff (2017)
Governors have a comprehensive understanding of the school. They work in close partnership with the headteacher to set the school’s strategic direction and use their wide range of experiences and expertise well to support and challenge the school.


Gaer Primary School, Newport (2018)
The members of the governing body undertake their roles very conscientiously and look actively for ways to expand and develop their effectiveness. They embrace new initiatives and respond positively to change. They have an excellent understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement. The dialogue between themselves and with the senior leadership of the school is very purposeful and productive. The governing body monitors the school’s self-evaluation processes very effectively. They undertake regular learning walks with pupils to discuss areas of the curriculum, standards of work and the latest developments in learning, for example the digital competency framework. This ensures that they challenge the school successfully to improve standards and ensure provision of high quality.


Glasllwch Primary School, Newport (2019)
Leaders, staff, governors and pupils have key roles within the school’s self-evaluation processes. Leaders have grouped staff and governors into teams based on the six areas of learning in the new curriculum for Wales. A notable feature of the school improvement process is the way in which staff collaborate with learners, parents, governors and staff from other local schools and colleges, for example as the lead school for the Pupil Participation Learning Network. This supports the school well as a highly effective learning organisation. Governors use an effective system to identify the skills of individual governors that enables each governor to use their particular skills very well in support of the school. For example, governors use their specific expertise to improve provision in Welsh, the DCF and coding skills. They provide purposeful challenge to school leaders, where needed, for example, when ensuring that health and safety is a high priority and taking part in regular health and safety checks.


Hendredenny Park Primary School, Caerphilly (2017)
Governors are very supportive of the school and fulfil their statutory duties well. They visit the school regularly to observe lessons, meet with groups of pupils and review their books. Consequently, governors have a clear grasp of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement. They ask challenging questions routinely and make suggestions about the deployment of staff, for instance to maximise the expertise of learning support assistants across the school. Consequently, these staffing arrangements have been highly beneficial for pupils.


Kitchener Primary School, Cardiff (2016)
The governing body has a very effective oversight of the school and carries out its duties very successfully. Governors are knowledgeable and supportive of the school’s work and its performance. They are fully involved in decision-making and provide a clear strategic direction. The chair of governors is particularly well informed and proactive and takes a leading role in moving the school forward.


Nant y Parc Primary School, Caerphilly (2019)
Governors know the school well and play a key role in ensuring an effective strategic direction for the school. Their strategic input into self-evaluation procedures is highly effective. Learning walks and regular visits to school by governors have enhanced their knowledge of the school, based on first-hand knowledge. The headteacher and senior leaders provide regular, detailed reports and presentations to governors, outlining the work of the school. As a result, the governing body has a thorough understanding of the school’s performance, enabling it to act as an effective critical friend. The headteacher and governing body manage the school’s budget rigorously and purchase resources effectively to enrich the curriculum and to raise pupils’ standards.


Oakfield Primary School, Cardiff (2019)
The governing body is very supportive of the school and governors undertake their responsibilities conscientiously. They regularly undertake monitoring and evaluation tasks and, as a result, they have a very good understanding of the school’s main strengths and areas for improvement. There is an excellent balance between support and challenge in the way governors undertake their role as critical friends and hold senior leaders to account. The headteacher and governors manage the school’s budget well. They make efficient funding decisions in order to respond to the school’s needs. The school makes very effective use of additional funding, for example, to increase resources, such as ICT equipment, and to improve the outdoor areas, which impact positively on pupils’ skills and wellbeing.


Penllergaer Primary School, Swansea (2019)
Governors contribute positively to the life and work of the school. They regularly visit the school to undertake supportive activities, for example to consider pupils’ progress in developing their digital skills to create databases. This work provides governors with a secure understanding of the school’s strengths and areas it is working to improve. Governors keep progress against improvement priorities under review. They provide the school’s leaders with a good balance of support and challenge.


Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, Swansea (2016)
The governing body holds the school strongly to account. It provides a high level of both challenge and support. The governing body has reviewed beneficially their committee structure in order to streamline and sharpen their robust scrutiny. Alongside the link governor role, this allows them to acquire a clear understanding of the school’s work.


Pontnewydd Primary School, Torfaen (2022)
Senior leaders and governors at Pontnewydd Primary School provide clear strategic direction for the development of the school. They work successfully with parents, pupils and staff to set the school’s vision, evaluate the quality of provision and plan and deliver improvements.The role of the governing body in supporting and challenging the work of the school is highly effective. Governors bring a wide range of knowledge, skills and experience, which they use well to support the school. For example, one governor provided chaplaincy support to pupils and staff as they dealt with the impact of the pandemic. As a result of frequent engagement with staff through their link governor work and regular visits to the school, governors have a clear understanding of the quality of provision and the challenges that the school faces. They support the school to manage and deploy its resources effectively, including the use of the pupil development grant. They work with leaders to ensure that suitable policies and procedures are in in place to promote the importance of healthy eating and drinking among pupils.


Rogerstone Primary School, Newport (2020)
Members of the governing body know the school well and undertake their roles effectively. Governors have valuable professional expertise and a varied range of interests, which they use purposefully to support the school. Governors have a sound knowledge of the school’s performance data and its strengths and areas for development. Individual governors support the school’s activities effectively. For example, they undertake regular learning walks and hold meetings with pupils to gather information about the impact of school initiatives. As a result, governors challenge the leadership team effectively as critical friends and hold the school suitably to account for its performance.


Severn Primary School, Cardiff (2016)
Governors are knowledgeable about the school and provide highly effective support and challenge in relation to pupils’ performance and school improvement. Embedded in the work of the school is a clear commitment to addressing local and national priorities. There is a considerable focus on ensuring high standards of literacy and numeracy and reducing the impact of poverty on pupils’ attainment. The school has already begun to consider its readiness for curriculum reform.


St. Julian’s Primary School, Newport (2018)
Highly committed governors make a strong contribution to the success of the school. For example, they have supported the school very well in the improvements made to the building. They monitor finances effectively and successfully challenge the school to maintain high standards.


St. Philip Evans Primary School, Cardiff (2019)
Governors have a very good understanding of the school’s work and discharge their responsibilities productively. They participate effectively in setting the school’s strategic priorities and in monitoring progress against improvement targets. They undertake high quality monitoring and evaluation tasks, and hence have a very good understanding of the school’s main strengths and areas for improvement. There is an effective balance between support and challenge in the way governors discharge their role in holding the senior leaders to account.


Trinant Primary School, Powys (2019)
Members of the governing body are enthusiastic, supportive and take a detailed interest in the work of the school. They are very knowledgeable about the school’s strengths and improvement priorities. Their role in self-evaluation is well developed and allows them to contribute effectively to the school’s strategic decision-making. For instance, the member of the governing body identified as the ‘self-evaluation champion’, visits the school each month to work with staff to monitor the progress of the school’s improvement priorities. The governing body takes an active role in formulating school improvement actions and is involved directly in working with senior leaders to write aspects of the school development plan.


Ynysowen Primary School, Merthyr Tydfil (2019)
An excellent feature is the way the governing body provides constructive support, challenge and valuable professional expertise for the school. Governors have an exceptional understanding of the school’s performance, guidance and finances. They visit the school regularly and support both pupils and teachers to monitor and focus on the school’s priorities and progress. They receive exemplary reports from the headteacher about the development and progress of the schools’ plans for improvement. They know the school exceptionally well and their strategic input into all areas of school life is highly effective. Another innovative practice of the governing body’s work is that it has established a forum for governing bodies from other local schools to share and work collaboratively on good practice.


Y Pant Comprehensive School, Rhondda Cynon Taff (2017)
Governors know the school well. They challenge leadership decisions and performance outcomes rigorously to help to set the strategic direction of the school.


Ysgol Bryn Derw, Newport (2020)
The governing body consists of highly committed members with a variety of relevant skills and experience. The school benefits greatly from their contribution. They provide extremely effective support and challenge for the school. In addition to full governing body and sub-committee meetings, governors take part in beneficial quality assurance activities, including learning walks and work scrutiny and projects such as looking at transport issues. This project resulted in training for taxi drivers. Governors have a clear understanding of national priorities, and the work that the school is doing in relation to these, including the curriculum for Wales and the ALN Act. Headteacher reports to the governing body are strategic and highly informative, with a clear focus on data. Governors provide robust challenge.


Ysgol Bryngwyn, Carmarthenshire (2017)
Governance of the federation is a significant strength. Governors have a detailed understanding of both schools’ performance and provide high levels of support and challenge to the federation. They make an effective contribution to the federation’s self-evaluation and improvement planning processes. The experience and expertise of governors are used well to support many aspects of the federation’s provision. Individual governors are linked to subject areas and other specific aspects of the schools’ provision, and this provides middle leaders with valuable support.


Ysgol Brynrefail, Gwynedd (2020)
Members of the governing body are very experienced, and their expertise is used effectively to support and challenge the school. Through the hard-working committees and their valuable link meetings with departments, governors have a clear understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement. They play a prominent part in setting a strategic direction for the school and continue to challenge the school in order to improve the few areas in which there is underperformance. They conduct an annual review of their work in order to ensure that they contribute beneficially to the school’s work.


Ysgol Cefn Coch, Gwynedd (2018)
A strong feature is the way in which the headteacher has developed the role of the governing body during recent years. He has ensured that they have a sound understanding of the school’s performance and procedures through a programme of visits and relevant observations. An effective example of this is the challenging and rigorous way in which the governors consider pupils’ standards and progress. The governing body is a very supportive group that provides constructive support to the leadership team and shares professional, valuable expertise in specific areas. Its regular strategic input into the school’s self-evaluation arrangements is effective.


Ysgol Cynwyd Sant, Bridgend (2016)
The governing body plays a key part in ensuring a clear strategic direction for the school. Members are very supportive of the school’s work and undertake their responsibilities effectively. They visit the school regularly to undertake monitoring activities and to discuss provision and standards with leaders and staff. As a result, they have a secure knowledge of the school’s strengths and priorities for improvement. This enables them to challenge the school and hold it to account for its performance effectively. A good example is the way in which members of the governing body challenge the school about standards of numeracy, and ensure that specific procedures are in place to respond to this. By mentoring new governors, they ensure that all members contribute effectively in meetings and to the self-evaluation programme.


Ysgol Dolbadarn, Gwynedd (2018)
Members of the governing body have thorough information about the school’s performance by playing a prominent part in its monitoring, self-evaluation and strategic planning processes. By working effectively with the senior management team, observing lessons and scrutinising books, they have a sound awareness of the standards of learning and teaching. This enables them to hold the school to account successfully and to set a clear strategic direction for developing the school as an effective learning community.


Ysgol Gymraeg Brynsierfel, Carmarthenshire (2018)
Governors have a very sound understanding of the school’s performance. They take responsibility for various aspects of curricular areas and priorities for improvement. By working successfully with the senior management team, and by observing lessons, scrutinising books and conducting relevant learning walks, they play an active role in the school’s self-evaluation and monitoring procedures. They use this information very effectively to make decisions that set a purposeful strategic direction for the school’s work. A strong example of this is the way in which governors challenge positively and make suggestions about progress in standards and the over-use of worksheets. The governing body promotes the pupils’ voice effectively by supporting their aspirations. They also support the school’s plans and arrangements to ensure that all pupils are given an equal opportunity to undertake different activities. The headteacher and governors manage the school’s budget tightly, although they have faced a difficult financial situation recently. They make efficient funding decisions in order to respond to the school’s needs. The budget for implementing the school’s priorities for improvement has been earmarked clearly. The school uses a range of grants very successfully, including the pupil development grant, to raise standards of literacy and mathematics, and to develop pupils’ wellbeing highly effectively.


Ysgol Gymraeg Ifor Hael, Newport (2016)
Governors have a comprehensive understanding of the school’s strengths and areas that need to be developed further. They update their knowledge regularly by attending relevant training. They are very supportive of the school’s work and co-operate closely with leaders to ensure that it has a clear strategic direction. Through regular meetings and frequent visits to the school, they hold the school to account successfully in maintaining standards and ensuring high-quality provision.


Ysgol Gynradd Cae Top, Gwynedd (2016)
The school receives good support from governors. They have an increasing understanding of the school’s strengths and of the areas that need to be developed further. The school’s thorough system for monitoring data ensures that they are well informed about the school’s performance over time in comparison with that in other schools. Visits to classes enable them to reach a more certain judgement about pupils’ standards of work and attainment and to challenge and question leaders about the school’s performance. However, the governing body’s strategic role in the self-evaluation and planning for improvement process has not developed fully.


Ysgol Gynradd Talsarnau, Gwynedd (2020)
The school is supported very well by the governors. They also play an active part in comprehensive self-evaluation procedures, which enable them to identify the school’s strengths and most areas for improvement effectively. Their practice of monitoring and gathering evidence of the quality of provision and pupils’ achievement helps them to form a clear and accurate judgement on the standard of pupils’ work and their attainment. As a result, governors’ strategic role as critical friends is developing very successfully and enables them to challenge the school about its performance conscientiously and effectively.


Ysgol Pencae, Cardiff (2017)
The governing body know the school very well. They are extremely knowledgeable about the school’s performance, and make very effective use of data and direct evidence in order to contribute significantly to setting the school’s strategic direction. They are very analytical and the chair uses his expertise and individuals’ strengths effectively in order to support and challenge the headteacher and staff thoroughly when appropriate. Governors visit the school regularly in order to observe lessons, discuss with pupils and scrutinise books. This ensures that they have an excellent understanding of the school’s strengths, areas that need to be changed, in addition to beneficial opportunities to monitor and evaluate improvement.


Ysgol Tregarth, Gwynedd (2020)
The governing body is very supportive of the school’s work. Through effective co-operation with staff and discussing examples of pupils’ work, governors have a good understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for improvement. They use this information thoroughly to make decisions when setting a strategic direction for the school’s work. This enables them to hold the school to account and help to set a clear strategic direction to develop the school as a very effective learning community.


Ysgol y Foryd, Conwy (2019)
The governing body is highly supportive of the school. Many governors undertake monitoring activities that enable them to engage fully in discussion, particularly about pupils’ wellbeing. Teachers or small groups of teaching assistants regularly join governing body meetings and share aspects of their work. This ensures that governors have a very good understanding of the school’s strengths and areas for development, enabling them to challenge the school successfully to improve standards and ensure provision of high quality.

Contact Us

01443 844532 / 029 2075 3685 [email protected]
Sam MacNamara – 07943 887275 / Jane Morris – 07957 969708