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Debating the challenges affecting the School Governing Body

Debating the challenges affecting the School Governing Body

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The open space sessions at Governor Live proved an ideal opportunity to give school Governors from across the country to debate the challenges and opportunities affecting their roles in 2014. Discussions around the Governing Body were plentiful including the transition, representation and recruitment of members.

Removing people from the Governing Body

Open Space Sessions at Governor Live

With the best interest of the school in mind, sometimes difficult decisions need to be made with regard to the strategic formation of the board itself.  As is often the case, boards can often become set in their ways and replacing long standing members to inject new skills is a delicate and challenging task.

Best practice to support a transition is simply to ask the member to consider the impact of their role on the board and reflect on the potential benefits an alternative appointment could bring to the school.  As a last resort, and usually only reserved for disciplinary action, there is an option to suspend of a Governor, but only for up to six months.

Furthermore, schools should not consider the reappointment of Governors who have not shown an aptitude for the role, simply to maintain the status quo or to avoid a potential conflict.  In essence, Governors need to take accountability for failure and recognise the importance of governance, which is even more critical when the school is facing challenges.

An external review of governance such as an OFSTED Inspection, is often perceived as negative interference rather than a supportive light.  It is however, an excellent opportunity to help the governing body drive improvement and avail of helpful advice from other schools in a similar position.

Is it important that the Governing Board is culturally diverse?

Governor Live debate about the Governing BodyThe critical success factor for any Board of Governors is ensuring the delivery of effective governance, which can be even more challenging without a balanced representative voice on the board.  Historically the majority of governing boards have a lower ethnic minority than that of the school, contain a greater proportion of male members and struggle to find the right balance between mature members and a younger generation of Governors with differing skill sets.

That said, the appointment of a new Governor is a challenging process, and should not be biased due to an overriding attempt to balance the scales in an attempt to be politically correct.

Role of Governing Body in the recruitment of new staff

A misconception by some Head Teachers and Governors is that at least one member of the board should sit on the recruitment panel for the appointment of new Teachers and Teaching Assistants.  The role of the Board is to guide the strategic direction of the school and should be limited to ensuring that process it clear and transparent.  As such, the Board should only be involved in the appointment of the senior leadership team or Head Teachers.

Ultimately, Governors are not present at disciplinary or redundancy hearings and are not aware of day-to-day classroom practice which is necessary for interviewing teachers and classroom assistants.  The Board needs to have faith in the Head Teacher’s ability to effectively build the team and recognise that as a senior leader, they will be required to accept such operational responsibility.

More posts to follow

Keep your eye on this blog for more posts on what was covered at the Governor Live open space sessions.

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