What is a Governing Body?
A school's governing body is a corporate body. This means it has a legal existence separate from that of its individual members.
‘So it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.’ Romans 12:5
What is the role of the Governing Body?
The governing body act on behalf of the Academy Trust and the key responsibilities are to;
- Ensure the quality of educational provision.
- Challenge and monitor the performance of the school.
- Manage the Academy Trust's finances and property.
- Have input on the appointment of staff.
- Exercise reasonable skill and care in carrying out duties.
- Ensure that the Academy Trust complies with charity and company law.
- Operate the Academy in accordance with the Funding Agreement that has been signed by the Secretary of State.
‘God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.’ 1 Peter 4:10
The Department for Education (DfE) sets out information on the role of governing bodies in the Governors' Handbook. It says:
In all types of schools, governing bodies should have a strong focus on the core strategic functions:
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
- Holding the Principal to account for the educational performance of the Academy and its pupils.
- Overseeing the financial performance of the academy and making sure its money is well spent.
In other guidance the DfE explains that the purpose of having a governing body is to:
- Help the school to set high standards by planning for the school's future and setting targets for school improvement.
- Keep the pressure up on school improvement.
- Be a critical friend to the school, offering support and advice.
- Help the school respond to the needs of the parents and the community.
- Make the school accountable to the public for what it does.
- Work with the school on planning, developing policies and keeping the school under review.
- Exercise its responsibilities and powers in partnership with the Principal and staff.
- Not intervene in the day-to-day management of the school unless there are weaknesses in the school, when it then has a duty to take action.
Governance and Management
Governance is strategic and management is operational. This distinction between governance and management needs to be clearly understood by all, so that governors are not asked to, and do not try to, involve themselves in day to day management.
Governors are there to govern, not to carry out other work on a pro-bono basis. School leaders must not be micro-managed. The governing body should concentrate on matters related to strategy and school improvement, delegating to school leaders those tasks which are operational (for example, drafting policies, making judgements about teaching quality, and recruiting and deploying staff below senior leadership level). The agenda of governing bodies should be driven by the strategic planning cycle.