Top Tips for Governors

There are approximately 22,000 school governors in Wales. They give their time, skills and expertise in a voluntary capacity, to help their schools provide children with the best possible education.

Governing bodies are accountable for the strategic direction of their school and for the quality of education provided.

Governors work together with the headteacher and staff of a school to make sure that schools provide successful teaching and learning for our children and raise standards.

Governing bodies exist so that schools are publicly accountable to parents, the LA and the local community for what they do, for the results they achieve, and for the way in which the resources are allocated.

Here are some tips to be an effective school governor:

  1. A good to place to start is to try and get an overview of where the school is at the moment. Have a look at the last inspection report. You could also read up on the last few full governing body meetings minutes, headteacher’s report, school development plan etc, to get an idea of the current projects, issues etc.

  2. Ask if another governor can act as your mentor. Your mentor can talk you through the development areas and how they are being tackled, point towards data in the headteacher’s report etc.

  3. Attend governing body meetings regularly. This ensures that you get to know the school and the members of the governing body better.

  4. Be organised with the paperwork for meetings. Read the papers prior to the meeting, and prepare any questions you may want to ask relating to those papers etc. This shows that you are acting as a “critical friend”.

  5. Don’t be afraid to ask other governors to explain what they’re talking about if you don’t understand.

  6. If you are a new governor, don’t expect to be an expert straight away. Ask questions to make sure you understand everything.

  7. The kind of discussion that you are involved in as a governor is strategic, not day to day e.g., you will be monitoring data and looking at policies etc. Respect the responsibility of the headteacher for the day-to-day decisions in the management of the school.

  8. Looking at the data – how are the pupils performing – compare this with previous years. Are things improving? If not, why? Ask the questions.

  9. If discussions and agenda items are deemed confidential, make sure this information is not shared with anyone else outside of the governing body.

  10. All governors are equal so take care to respect others’ views and behave accordingly in dealings with governor colleagues.

  11. If you have a personal interest in a topic being discussed at meetings, where you may not be impartial, declare an interest and withdraw from the meeting.

  12. Governing bodies are corporate bodies, so when making a decision, do express your own thoughts and views, however, once a decision is made, governors must stand by that corporate decision.

  13. Governing body meetings are not the correct place to bring up concerns about your own children who may be attending the school.

  14. Make yourself familiar with the terms of reference for the committees, where you are a member.

  15. Attend the mandatory training, and any other training that you think may be relevant to your role.

  16. Has the governing body carried out a skills audit and identified gaps in their skills / experience. Is there something that you can offer here? Make an impact! Apply your skills and experience for the benefit of the school.

  17. Visit the school as a link governor, observing the pupils in classes and the playground etc, looking at activities e.g. observing classes, talking to staff / pupils, looking at resources etc, what did you learn as a result of your visit? What was the biggest impression the visit made – noting positive comments about the focus etc.

  18. If someone approaches you with a concern regarding the school, ensure you direct them back to the school and / or the headteacher. There are ways for them to raise their concerns at the school, and approaching an individual governor is not one of them.

  19. Remember you are volunteers with a vital role and enjoy it.

© Governors Cymru Services

Published: 29/08/2018

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