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Carlisle & Hampton Hill Federation

Roles and responsibilities of the governing body

What are school governors?

School governors are people who want to make a positive contribution to children’s education.
Governors are one of the largest volunteer forces in the country and have an important part to play in raising school standards through their three key roles of setting strategic direction, ensuring accountability and monitoring and evaluating school performance.

The role of the governing body is absolutely key to the effectiveness of a school. Time and time again Ofsted (the national inspection body for schools) has noted that the most effective schools demonstrate effective leadership and management - including by the governing body.
The governors' role is not about fundraising, neither it is about cheerleading for the school - though governors might do both those things. School governors provide strategic leadership and accountability in schools. Governors appoint the headteacher and are involved in the appointment of other staff. It is governors who hold the main responsibility for finance in schools, and it is governors who work with the headteacher to make the tough decisions about balancing resources.

This text was adapted from information on the National Association of Governors website.

What are the responsibilities of the governing body?

The governing body is the school’s accountable body. It is responsible for the conduct of the school and for promoting high standards. The governing body aims to ensure that children are attending a successful school which provides them with a good education and supports their well being.

In law the governing body is a corporate body, which means:

  • No governor can act on her/his own without proper authority from the full governing body
  • All governors carry equal responsibility for decisions made
  • Although appointed through different routes (i.e. parents, staff, local authority or community), the overriding concern of all governors has to be the welfare of the school as a whole

What is the purpose of governance?

The purpose of governance is to provide confident, strategic leadership and to create robust accountability, oversight and assurance for educational and financial performance.

All boards have three core functions:

  1. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  2. Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  3. Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

What are the key features of effective governance?

Effective governance is based on six key features:

1. Strategic leadership that sets and champions vision, ethos and strategy

2. Accountability that drives up educational standards and financial performance

3. People with the right skills, experience, qualities and capacity

4. Structures that reinforce clearly defined roles and responsibilities

5. Compliance with statutory and contractual requirements

6. Evaluation to monitor and improve the quality and impact of governance

This text was adapted from the Department for Education's Governance Handbook.

The Department for Education has also recently produced a new Competency Framework for Governance which sets out the competencies needed for effective governance.