Frequently Asked Questions

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Section 1: Governors

Governors: An overview

Governors: Types of governor and becoming a governor

Section 2: Governing Body processes

Getting on and being removed from governing bodies

Elections and roles on the Governing body

School policies and standards

OFSTED and governance

What about Academies?

School staffing issues

Curriculum and tests

Financial issues

General issues about children at school

What sort of training should we go for?

Where else can I get advice?

FAQ Section 1: Governors: An overview

Why is it worth being a governor?

You will have the satisfaction of helping your school help and inspire its pupils to achieve the best and make a good start in life. There is no financial reward but it is worth the time and effort you invest. It’s difficult to describe the sense of satisfaction you get from helping a school achieve and maintain high standards, but the fact that so many parent governors continue to be governors well after their children have left the school demonstrates this well!

You can check our website for governor vacancies – go and look and volunteer!  click here

What makes a good school governor?

The desire to help children get the best possible education – not just good grades but an education for life (there is more to school than League Tables).

• The time to get involved.
• The ability to bring a different perspective.
• A willingness to ask questions – even when they seem too obvious.
• A willingness to listen.
• A willingness to work in a team.
• A sense of humour.
• A sense of commitment to the role of governor and the school.

There is a national shortage of school governors; there are many of you out there who have so much to offer schools and as a result can have a positive influence on children today. Don't just sit on the sidelines and moan about 'kids of today' and 'when I was at school...', go out and do something positive about it!

You can check our website for governor vacancies – go and look and volunteer! Click here

This website, www.sgoss.org.uk has more information about becoming a school governor.  It also allows you to register your interest

What do governors do?

Governors have a strategic, not operational, responsibility for the school. The governing body is responsible for the conduct of its school, and must promote high standards of educational achievement at the school. It is the school’s accountable body and as such:

• provides a strategic view of the school by establishing a vision and setting the purpose and aims of the school within an agreed policy framework
• it appoints and performance manages the headteacher, agreeing the school improvement strategy which includes setting targets with supporting budgets and staffing structures
• monitors and evaluates the work of the school by reviewing the performance of the headteacher, the effectiveness of the policy framework, progress towards targets, and the effectiveness of the school improvement strategy
• signs off the self evaluation process and responds to school improvement service and Ofsted reports as necessary
• in addition it holds the headteacher to account for the performance of the school and ensures that parents are involved, consulted and informed as appropriate, with information to the community being made available as required.

In order to do this, governors need to gain knowledge of how their school operates through training, by attending meetings, and by getting to know their school community, for example through a small number of visits to the school during the school day.

The headteacher has operational responsibility for the school. This includes the school’s internal organisation, management and control of employees and the implementation of the strategic framework established by the governing body.

How much time will it take?

You will need to attend one full governing body meeting each term. You will also be asked to serve on at least one committee which will probably meet once or occasionally twice a term. So that is about two or three meetings per term.

You will need to get to know your school well (if you don't already) preferably by visiting when the school is in session and the pupils are in school. However this may not always be possible and some governors keep in touch with school life through after school events such as fundraising or charity events, Parents Teachers and Friends Association meetings, sports days, school parties and holidays, etc.

What support will I receive?

As a governor you should receive lots of support from the headteacher of your school and the other staff and governors. The Governor Services Team will support you with advice, information and the opportunity to take part in training and conferences.

The governing body has a clerk to help prepare and organise the meetings in conjunction with the chair of governors and headteacher. They will send out agendas and supporting papers and then minute the meetings. Clerks to governing bodies also give advice during and between meetings.

You can also find help from members of the Barnsley Governors Association.  Use our contact details (link to section) or ask the resident clerk if you can’t find the help you need on the website. The governor may be able to help you themselves or find answers for you from other governors and schools in the BGA.

How accountable am I as a governor?

School governors have a legal responsibility to ensure that the school promotes high standards of educational achievement. Governing bodies have three key roles: setting strategic direction, ensuring accountability and monitoring and evaluation.

Governing bodies delegate many of their responsibilities to the headteacher, but exercise those which relate to the policies and ethos of the school in such matters as: finance, staffing, the curriculum, pupil behaviour and discipline, the admission and exclusion of pupils, the premises, and relations with the LA, parents and the community.

School Governing Bodies have legal responsibilities to LEAs, inspection authorities and to parents.

Can I be held personally liable for any actions I undertake as a school governor?

It is unlikely that you would be held personally liable for any actions you undertake as a school governor.

If someone acts responsibly, in good faith and within their powers, being a governor will not attract personal responsibility. It is the governing body, as a corporate body, which will be held responsible.

Decisions taken by governors acting with delegated authority, either by individual governors such as the chair, or by committees of governors are regarded as decisions taken on behalf of the corporate governing body.

Governing bodies are established by law as corporate bodies. They act as a single entity with an identity separate from that of its members. Responsibility for actions and decisions, therefore, lies with the whole governing body rather than individual members.

Insurance
A governing body as a whole needs to be insured. The type of school you are affects how and where you can get insurance.

What is 'Every Child Matters' about?

The Every Child Matters programme is aimed at achieving six outcomes for every child so that they are able to play a full and positive part in society. The following is an outline of each key aim. Schools are expected to play their part in achieving these aims.

Being healthy
Children and young people are: physically, mentally, emotionally and sexually healthy; have healthy lifestyles; and choose not to take illegal drugs.

Staying Safe
Children and young people are: safe from accidental injury and death; safe from maltreatment, neglect, violence and sexual exploitation; are safe from bullying and discrimination; safe from crime and antisocial behaviour and have security and stability.

Enjoying & achieving
Children are ready for school; children and young people attend and enjoy school; achieve educational standards at primary school; achieve personal and social development and enjoy recreation; and achieve educational standards at secondary school

Making a positive contribution
Children and young people: engage in decision-making, and support the community and environment; engage in law-abiding and positive behaviour; develop positive relationships and choose not to bully and discriminate; develop self-confidence and successfully deal with significant changes and challenges; and develop enterprising behaviour.

Achieving economic well being
Young people: engage in further education, employment or training on leaving school; are ready for employment; children and young people live in decent homes and sustainable communities; have access to transport and material goods; and live in households free from low-income

If I have professional skills will I be expected to use them on behalf of the school?

You won’t be expected to save the school money by becoming their legal adviser/builder/accountant/HR manager etc. What you will be expected to do is use your professional expertise to make sure the school and governing body ask the appropriate questions to help ensure the best possible decisions are made.

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Governors: Types of governor and becoming a governor

Who can be a Governor?

Governing bodies are made up from parents, school staff, members of the community, and people appointed by the Local Authority. In Faith/Church schools thereare  also governors appointed by the Trust/Diocese.

Some people cannot become governors. Reasons for disqualification are listed in Disqualification from Holding a Governorship see question below for details.

Who should consider being a School Governor?

Anyone who cares about children's education, which includes:

• Parents
• Grandparents
• Local business people and employers
• People who contribute to school life
• Community group members from churches, mosques, playgroups, youth clubs, sports clubs, etc

You do not need specialist knowledge or training to become a governor. It is your lay and community experience that the governing body requires. However you will become knowledgeable by being a governor and this can help you to participate more fully in your local community or even open up opportunities for you personally, eg involvement in Parents Teachers and Friends Association (PTFA), voluntary work within school, an awareness of new employment opportunities.

A comprehensive programme of training courses for governors is offered by Governor Services, to support you in your roles and responsibilities.

What sorts of governors are there?

The combination of Governors at a school depends upon the size and type of school. There are a number of different types of state schools in England:

• community
• voluntary controlled
• voluntary aided
• foundation
• academies& City Technology Colleges (CTCs) which are independent state-funded schools

There are also different categories of governor:

• parent: elected as representatives of parents with children at the school
• staff: both teaching and non-teaching staff can be appointed to represent the whole school staff
• local authority:  governors appointed by the Local Education Authority
• community: governors appointed by the governing body to represent the local community
• foundation:  appointed by the founding body of the school (eg, the local diocese would appoint the Foundation governors for a Church of England school
• sponsor: appointed by the governing body when it is felt that these governors have specific skills they can bring to the school (for example financial skills that could be of use)

Within limits, governing bodies are free to determine their own size and membership. Regulations specify the minimum number of governors (currently 9) and also what proportion of governors in each category the different types of school should have. You need enough governors to carry out the work of the governing body!!

Parent Governors
Parents, including carers, of registered pupils at the school are eligible to stand for election as a parent governor. They are elected by other parents at the school. If insufficient parents stand for election, the governing body can appoint parent governors. The law does not allow elected members of the Local Authority, or people who work at the school for more than 500 hours in a school year, to become parent governors. If you are interested in becoming a parent governor at your child's school, you should contact the headteacher to see if there are any vacancies.

Staff Governors
One staff governor position is reserved for the headteacher. Other staff governors are elected by the school staff. Both teaching and support staff paid to work at the school are eligible for staff governorship; volunteers are not eligible.
At least one staff governor must be a teacher, but if no teacher stands for election a member of the support staff can be elected to take that place. If a governing body has three or more staff governor places, at least one staff governor place is offered to the support staff, but if no member of the support staff stands for election a teacher can be elected to take that place. If you are interested in becoming a staff governor at your school, you should contact the headteacher to see if there are any vacancies.

Authority Governors
They are appointed by the Local Authority. LAs can appoint any eligible person as an Authority Governor. Anyone who is eligible to be a Staff governor cannot be appointed as an Authority governor. If you think you might like to become an Authority governor, you should contact Governor Services Central Team, or download and complete the Authority (LA) governor application form.

Community Governors
Community governors are appointed by the governing body to represent community interests. Community governors can be people who live or work in the community served by the school, or people who do not work in or live close to the school but are committed to the good governance and success of the school. In community special schools the governing body must appoint as one of the community governors a person nominated by one or more voluntary organisations designated by the LA. If you are interested in becoming a community governor at a particular school, you should contact the chair of governors at the school. Alternatively Governor Services may be able to advise you of schools with vacancies.

Foundation Governors
Foundation governors are only to be found on the governing bodies of voluntary schools and some foundation schools. They are appointed by the body or bodies named in the Instrument of Government. They are appointed to preserve and develop the religious character of the school, if it has a religious character, and to secure compliance with the trust deed. Normally, foundation governors serve for a four year term of office.

Sponsor Governors
Sponsor governors are appointed by, and at the discretion of, the governing body. If the governing body wants to appoint sponsor governors it must seek nominations from the sponsor(s). Sponsors are people who give substantial assistance to the school, financially or in kind, or who provide services to the school. The governing body can appoint a maximum of two persons as sponsor governors (4 in secondary schools).

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor governor at a particular school, you should contact the chairman of governors at the school.

CRB Checks

Currently the LA requires all governors to have an enhanced CRB check, which the LA pays for. This is renewed every three years.

Under the current provisions of Safeguarding children and safer recruitment in education, anyone working as a governor of a school or FE college ( including sixth form college), which involves regular work in the presence of, or care for, children, or training, supervising or being in sole change of children must have an enhanced CRB check.

You can be elected as a Governor and take part in Governing Body meetings and activities whilst the CRB check is being carried out.

Who is disqualified from being a school governor?

A person is disqualified from holding or from continuing to hold office as a governor or associate member if he or she:

• is detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 during his or her period of office
• fails to attend the governing body meetings – without the consent of the governing body – for a continuous period of six months, beginning with thedate of the first meeting missed (not applicable to ex officio governors)
• is subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or an interim order
• has had his or her estate sequestrated and the sequestration order has not been discharged, annulled or reduced
• is subject to:
    o a disqualification order or disqualification undertaking under the Company Directors Act 1986
    o a disqualification order under Part 2 of the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1989
    o a disqualification undertaking accepted under theCompany Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002
    o an order made under Section 492(2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (failure to pay under a County Court administration order)
• has been removed from the office of charity trustee or trustee for a charity by the Charity Commissioners or High Court on grounds of any misconduct or mismanagement, or under Section 34 of the Charities and Trustees Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 from participating in the management or control of any body
• is included in the list of people considered by the Secretary of State as unsuitable to work with children
• is disqualified from working with children or subject to a direction under Section 142 of theEducation Act 2002
• is disqualified from registration for childminding or providing day care
• is disqualified from registration under Part 3 of theChildcare Act 2006
• has received a sentence of imprisonment (whether suspended or not) for a period of not less than three months (without the option of a fine) in thefive years before becoming a governor or since becoming a governor
• has received a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years or more in the 20 years before becoming a governor
• has at any time received a prison sentence of five years or more
• has been fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school premises during the five years prior to or since appointment or election as a governor
• refuses to allow an application to the Criminal Records Bureau for a criminal records certificate.  

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FAQ Section 2: Governing Body processes

Getting on and being removed from governing bodies

If a parent governor becomes employed at the school and therefore eligible to be staff governor must they resign as a parent governor?

No, the person does not have to resign, they continue until their term of office expires.

However, if they wished to continue after the expiry date of their current period of appointment then the following would apply:

• if they were paid to work at the school for more than 500 hours in any consecutive twelve month period, they could not be a parent governor;
• if they worked less than 500 hours then they could stand for re-election or be an appointed parent.

What is the qualification for being a parent governor?

To be elected as a parent governor the person must have a child at the school.  However, where a vacancy cannot be filled by an election, the governing body can appoint a person as an appointed parent.

Persons who can be appointed as ‘appointed parent governors’ are one of the following:

a) a parent of a registered pupil at the school;
b) a parent of a former registered pupil at the school;
c) a parent of a child under or of compulsory school age.

The governing body must start with (a) above and only move down through (b) and (c) if they cannot appoint.

We have not got vacancies on the governing body but would like additional members.

To increase the number of governors the governing body must vary the instrument of government for the school

or

If there is a person that has particular skills and they are willing to support the governing body they can be appointed as ASSOCIATE MEMBERS.  Such members attend meetings but are not part of the quorum and have very limited voting rights.

Can governors be removed from the governing body?

In certain circumstances governors can be removed from the governing body.

Under certain circumstances, governors can be suspended from the governing body for a fixed period up to six months.

Removal and suspension procedures are set out in Regulations, therefore a governing body should seek advice before initiating any removal or suspension.

We have a governor who is always sending apologies and not attending, can anything be done?

If a governor fails to attend meetings, then the governing body have the option not to accept their apologies.  Then if they continue to be absent for a continuous period of six months from the date of the last meeting at which their apologies were not accepted, they can be excluded from the governing body.

Attending committee meetings does not count as attendance.

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Elections and roles on the Governing body

How are people elected to positions on the governing body?

Governing Bodies are free to decide how they want to elect their Chair and Vice-Chair.

It is good practice to agree the system they wish to use in advance. Whilst it is no longer necessary to hold the elections at the first meeting of the Autumn Term, most Governing Bodies still choose to do so. It would therefore be a good idea to agree the protocol to be used in the Summer Term.

Things to consider include whether nominations are required in time to be included on the Agenda, or simply made at the meeting and whether the ballot is to be undertaken by a show of hands or a secret ballot. The legislation allows governors to self-nominate.

One requirement of the legislation is that the candidates should leave the room when the voting takes place.

Before the vote, the term of office should be decided. The election of a Chair of Governors can be for a period of up to four years but must not be for less than one year.

The Governing Body must meet and the decision relating to appointments must be made in the Governing Body meeting by those present and voting. The Governing Body must be quorate. Officers cannot be “elected” informally, by letter, e-mail or by proxy voting, no matter how convenient this may appear.

Other points that must be born in mind are:

• appointments to the chair should be made at the first meeting following notification that the Chair is vacant
• governors who are paid to work at the school in any capacity cannot take on the role of either Chair or Vice-Chair. The Chair or Vice-Chair must resign their position if they accept a paid appointment at the school.

What powers do Chairs of Governors have?

Chairs of Governors have no special power to take decisions on behalf of governors unless there has been a resolution of the whole Governing Body to delegate a specific authority.

What is the role of the Chair of Governors?

The Chair has a pivotal role to play in helping the governing body work as a team. The Chair must have a clear view of the governing body and understand the shared visions for the school and know how that vision is to be achieved.

Chairs of Governors have responsibilities in two areas:

Governing body meetings
• ensure time is used effectively: planning with the governing body the year's cycle of meetings and a timetable for action and reports
• ensure that meetings are run effectively
• help the Governing Body work as a team (by recognising and using people's strengths, delegating effectively, clarifying objectives, etc.), ensuring every governor is involved
• with the Governing Body, define a clear understanding of the roles of Governors and professionals within the school
• keep other governors fully informed
• make it clear that all governors must accept collective responsibility for decisions taken at Governors' meetings.

Working with the headteacher and other agencies
• work effectively with the headteacher, holding regular meetings
• carry out any duties delegated by the Governing Body, for example, attend school functions and work with the LA
• co-operate with other agencies to support school improvement.

For new Chairs a specific training course is run by Governor Services.

Can a governing body have more than one Vice-Chairperson or share the appointment between two governors?

No, the office of Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson can only be filled by a single governor.

Can a governing body have sub-committees?

No, if the governing body wish to delegate functions then they establish committees.

A committee cannot establish a sub-committee.

Furthermore, a committee cannot change its constitution or terms of reference, this can only be done at a meeting of the governing body.

Can we appoint our school’s secretary/Bursar/the Head’s PA as clerk to our governing body?

You can, many schools do, but we don’t advise it. Someone employed by the school will no doubt be very nice, very competent at their job and cheaper than other possible clerks but they don’t necessarily have the skills and experience you need in a clerk. It is also difficult for them if there is any difference of opinion between the head and the governing body over any issue.

A good clerk with the right experience and who is independent of the school’s reporting structure is invaluable.

So what does a good clerk look like?
The clerk has an important part to play in making sure the governing body's work is well organised, it’s a lot more than just taking minutes and sending out agendas. It is helpful if the clerk is able to offer information and advice to the governing body, particularly on matters involving the law and procedures to be followed at meetings. It is also important that they have experience of how other schools do things and even better if they have experience across more than one LA. They should be able to use this experience to advise you on the best way to do things, identify issues you need to be aware of that you may have missed and give examples of how things are done in other schools and authorities. They should be able to help you learn from other school’s experiences.

You can use school staff to clerk committee meetings, on a regular or occasional basis. A member of the governing body can take minutes if necessary. BUT we strongly recommend that, as a minimum, you have a properly experienced clerk for your full governing body meetings. Your clerk should be independent of the school’s reporting procedures.

Can we get rid of our clerk?
Yes.  The governing body is responsible for appointing the clerk. If you are not happy with your clerk you can change them. How you go about this depends on the type of contract you have with them. For example: if you have an LA clerk and don’t feel they are providing the advice you need then contact the LA and ask for a replacement. If you have a contract with an independent clerk then this will normally be for one year, you don’t have to renew the contract.

However before you do this the Chair should talk to the clerk to discuss the governing body’s concerns – perhaps the clerk could do more if he/she knew you wanted more.

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School policies and standards

Do school policies have to be reviewed annually?

There is no requirement for all school policies to be reviewed annually, they must be reviewed regularly by the governing body.

There are three policies which must be reviewed annually: Pay; Curriculum and Performance Management.

Otherwise it is the decision of Governing Bodies when to review although it is recommended that no policy should go beyond three years without review, and two years is better.

How often should policies be updated?

Governors should have a clear process in place to review and evaluate existing policies to ensure that they are still relevant. The review process may highlight a need for amendments or even significant re-writing of policies. Once policies have been reviewed they must then be ratified at a meeting of the full Governing Body.

The Governing Body is legally required to have lots of policies but the LA will normally supply draft policies which the school can adapt and use which are legally compliant.

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OFSTED and governance

What does Ofsted look for in a governing body when they inspect the school?

Ofsted is concerned with how well the Governing body takes its responsibilities for leadership, management and governance. In an Ofsted inspection governors will need to be able to answer the following questions:

• How well do governors meet their statutory requirements?
• How do governors take part in decision making?
• How do governors hold the school to account?
• How well do governors understand the impact of the school’s work on standards and achievement?

The inspectors may want to talk to governors or at least the Chair, about their part in decisions, how they organise their work, what information they are given and so on. In other words they are interested the part governors can play - if allowed to do so - in policy formation and in holding the school to account for its performance.

A Governing body which does not understand how well the school is performing and why and which is not taking steps to improve the performance of the schoolmwill receive poor ratings from Ofsted.

Is the Ofsted Self Evaluation Form (SEF) still to be completed?

In order to reduce the bureaucracy on schools, the centrally prescribed SEF has been removed and shall not be replaced. There will be no standard requirement for school self evaluation, but Ofsted will continue to take account of the quality of self evaluation in its judgement on the leadership and management of a school.

Models of evidence to assist schools are available, for example through some of the professional associations.

Must a written lesson plan be produced for every lesson?

There is no statutory obligation to produce a written lesson plan for every lesson. Ofsted inspectors do not routinely scrutinise teachers’ individual plans, although they will look at them when they are offered by teachers. Inspectors focus on the quality of the school’s planning process and link that to teaching and learning in classrooms. Where the quality of teaching is weak, it is important that schools can provide documentary evidence to show that proper planning to address this is in place.

School inspections: do I need to be there?

Normally the Inspector will only wish to meet the Chair of Governors and possibly the Vice Chair as part of the inspection. Part of the reason for this meeting is to assess the quality of governance the governing body is providing.
The chair will usually be at the end of inspection meeting when the inspector gives the school’s leadership team an overview of their views and the probable content of their report.

What happens when my school is inspected?

This is what will normally happen at your school during a typical inspection.

Day 1
• The lead inspector meets the headteacher; this includes confirming or updating the arrangements for the inspection.
• The lead inspector discusses the pre-inspection briefing with the headteacher and the school’s senior leadership team.
• The inspection team meets for a briefing from the lead inspector.
• The inspection team plans lesson observations.
• The inspection team checks parents’ questionnaires.
• The lead inspector updates the headteacher on the progress of the inspection throughout the day.
• The inspection team gives feedback to observed teachers.
• The inspection team has a team meeting; the headteacher or another member of the school’s senior leadership team will usually attend.

Day 2
• There is a short meeting with the headteacher.
• The inspection team continues with inspection activities.
• The inspection team analyses returns from pupils’ and staff questionnaires.
• The lead inspector updates the headteacher on the progress of the inspection throughout the day.
• The inspection team holds regular meetings throughout the day.
• The inspection team completes any final lesson feedback to teachers.
• The inspection team has a final meeting to discuss final judgements and grades; feedback; and recommendations for improvement. The headteacher is usually present at the meeting.
• There is feedback to governors, other senior staff and a local authority representative if invited by the headteacher.

General inspection activities
These include:
• lesson observations
• analysis of pupils’ work
• a look at school records and documentation
• analysis of parents’, pupils’ and, where relevant, staff questionnaires
• discussion with staff, pupils, governors and, where appropriate, the school’s partners.

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Academies

What about Academies?

The Government is intent on expanding its Academy programme as it believes this is the best way of ensuring consistently high standard of Education for all children. Some schools, because they have performed poorly for a number of years, will have no choice about whether to become an academy or not, others will have a choice.

Many people: staff, parents and unions have concerns about the move to Academies. This is because the change to Academy status gives a school more control over its budget, staffing and the curriculum. Governors need to address this issue carefully as it also means a change to the governing body and additional responsibilities. Governing bodies of schools which are currently Voluntary Controlled will see less of a change to their responsibilities.

The process a school should use to consult all interested parties over whether it should or should not change to become an academy can be found here along with many FAQs on the subject:

http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/leadership/typesofschools/academies

The LA has been conducting meetings around the Borough to make sure governors as well as Head are aware of the opportunities and challenges Academies and other options such as different types of Federations provide.

At the moment the government is covering the legal costs which will be incurred by any school converting to an Academy, but schools no longer get extra capital funding for becoming an Academy.

Will Academies get more money than other schools?

 

On the DofE Website it quotes “The principle of academies' funding is that academies should receive the same level of per-pupil funding as they would receive from the local authority (LA) as a maintained school. They also receive funding to meet their additional responsibilities that are no longer provided for them by the LA. The Government is clear that becoming an academy should not bring about a financial advantage or disadvantage to a school. However, academies have greater freedom over how they use their budgets, alongside the other freedoms that they enjoy.”

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School staffing issues

Our headteacher is off sick and the deputy headteacher is attending the governing body meeting in their place, are they a governor?

Whilst the headteacher is off sick they are still a governor, therefore if the deputy headteacher attends the governing body meeting, they are only IN ATTENDANCE.

However, if the deputy headteacher becomes acting headteacher because the headteacher has left, then they become a governor.

The same principle applies to the situation where an Interim headteacher is put into a school for a period of time.

Where there are joint headteachers, only one person can occupy the position of governor. Both heads can attend the governing body meetings but only one of them can vote.

Has the Local Authority produced any guidance on the content and format of the headteacher’s report for a primary school?

Yes, a copy can be obtained from Governor Services.

Which staff appointments must be approved by the governing body?

The appointments which the governing must approve are headteacher and deputy headteacher.  All other appointments can be made through delegation of functions.

At our governing body meeting we shall be discussing the staffing structure, do the staff governors have to leave the meeting?

This will depend if any staff governor could benefit by a change in the staffing structure.  If not then they should remain, however, if there were proposed changes from which a staff governor could gain a benefit they should leave.

Generally, if salary ranges and TLAs are not included, the staff could remain.

It will need to be a decision taken at the time of the meeting.

The position regarding staff pay is very clear:

• a person paid to work at the school, other than the headteacher, must withdraw and cannot vote in relation to the pay or performance appraisal of any particular person working at the school.  This does not affect general discussions about general pay policy;
• the headteacher must withdraw and cannot vote in relation to their own pay or performance.

What about disputes with staff over performance or attendance?

What is very important is that the governing body should ensure that all HR and safeguarding policies are clear and followed with documentation to provide evidence in the case of any disputes. It is important that any potential issues, trigger points for action are discussed by the headteacher with the governing body at a meeting. The governing body should then review the actions being taken, ensure they are in accordance with the appropriate policy and that they are documented well.

Most problems are caused by failure to follow proper procedures and/or failing to document action the school (usually the headteacher) has taken to deal with the problem.

As a governor you may have a role on various committees to hear disputes or appeals against decisions. Who you get support from depends on who your school has a contract with for legal and HR support in the unfortunate event of a dispute.

Is the governing body responsible for recruiting all school staff?

The governing body is responsible for agreeing the number of staff employed at the school and must recruit the head teacher and members of the school leadership team. The recruitment and dismissal of staff below the senior leadership team should normally be delegated to the head teacher unless there are good grounds not to do so.

Is it a legal requirement for all head teachers to hold the National Professional Qualification for Headship?

On 1st April 2009, it became mandatory for all first-time head teachers working in maintained schools and non-maintained special schools to have completed the NPQH prior to taking up post. The following head teachers are not required to hold NPQH:

• those appointed to a permanent headship before 1 April 2004, regardless of which sector they were appointed to;
• those appointed to headship between 1 April 2004 – 31 March 2009, who are working towards the NPQH (head teachers appointed during this period were given four years from the date of their appointment to complete the NPQH);
• those appointed to headships in independent schools, Academies, or Pupil Referral Units;
• those appointed to lead maintained nurseries who hold or are working towards the National Professional Qualification for Integrated Centre Leadership (NPICL);
• those appointed from European Economic Area member states, who hold an equivalent qualification;
• those appointed on a temporary basis (acting head teachers).

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Curriculum and tests

How much statutory assessment is there in primary schools?

There is one set of externally-marked national tests - at age 11 - focused on the core subjects of English and mathematic. Less than 0.14% of teaching time for 7 to 11-year-olds is spent on taking national tests. KS2 tests amount to just over 5 ½ hours over 4 years of learning.

Tests have always been an important part of education and should not cause stress if they are approached in the right way. They can build self-confidence and prepare pupils for examinations later in their school career.

Is the English Baccalaureate a compulsory new qualification?

The English Baccalaureate is not a new qualification, but an additional measure of performance to recognise schools and pupils who attain a broad education in a core of academic subjects. (English, mathematics, sciences, history or geography and modern or ancient language) The EBacc is not compulsory and schools remain free to offer the curriculum that is right for their pupils. The teaching of religious education does, however, remain compulsory. The EBacc represents a core of subjects we want pupils to have the opportunity to study, whilst other qualifications remain valuable in their own right and are also encouraged.

Are the changes to the National Curriculum are already coming into effect?

There is an ongoing two stage review of the National Curriculum but state schools are legally required to continue following the current National Curriculum.

Stage 1 of the review covers the new curricula for English, mathematics, science and physical education will be published in autumn 2012, with first teaching in schools from September 2013.

Stage 2 covers all other subjects that are to form part of the new National Curriculum, or where it has been decided to have non-statutory curricula and will be available to schools by September 2013, with teaching in maintained schools from September 2014.

The review shall refocus the National Curriculum on the essential knowledge that should be taught, allowing individual schools greater freedom in constructing their wider school curriculum.

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Financial issues

Is the Pupil Premium only to be spent on pupils receiving free school meals?

Schools are not instructed in how to spend the pupil premium, as they are best placed to understand the needs of their pupils. However to help schools make the best use of the pupil premium, information about effective interventions in supporting deprived children is made available.

The government will produce performance tables of pupils covered and will require schools from September 2012 to publish details of how they have used it online.

Is the 16-19 Bursary is a simple replacement of the EMA?

While the 16-19 Bursary is aimed at keeping disadvantaged young people in education beyond the age of 16, it is a much more targeted scheme and the allocation of funds is no longer centrally prescribed. The first part of the fund is £15 million, which targets the most vulnerable 16-19 year olds with bursaries of at least £1,200 a year. The remaining £165 million is distributed directly, and at the discretion of schools and colleges, to support any student who faces genuine financial barriers to participation such as costs of transport, food or equipment.

Can we spend revenue funding on our buildings?

Revenue funding should be spent to maintain an asset, keeping it in good working order. Routine maintenance work should therefore be funded from revenue budgets. Works carried out to enhance an asset should be funded from capital budgets.

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General issues about children at school

Can a school make transport arrangements where ‘necessary’ to secure a child’s attendance at school?

Where Local Authorities (LAs) consider that home to school transport is necessary to secure a child's attendance at school, it must be provided free of charge. Although LAs have discretion in deciding whether transport is necessary, they must provide free home to school transport for pupils of compulsory school age who are attending their nearest suitable school. This is provided that the school is beyond the statutory walking distances of 2 miles for pupils below the age of eight and 3 miles for those aged eight and over.

Can teachers touch pupils?

Schools should not have a ‘no touch’ policy. It is often necessary for a teacher to touch a child (e.g. when dealing with accidents or teaching musical instruments). Also, teachers have a specific legal power to use reasonable force. For example, they can use force to remove a pupil who is disrupting a lesson or to prevent a child leaving a classroom.

Can head teacher insist a teacher conduct a search of a pupil?

The head teacher can only require a member of the school's security staff to conduct a search. In order to conduct a search without consent, a member of staff must be authorised to do so. Staff can choose whether they want to be authorised or not.

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What sort of training should we go for?

There are 3 main ways of getting training

• e-learning via Modern Governor (Click here for more information)

• training session provide by the LA (Click here for more information)

• sessions organised by your school/another school

They all have advantages.

a) The e-learning option is useful for governors who have difficulty getting to training session organised in the day or starting late afternoon (most LA training) but the downside is there is no-one there to ask questions of, bounce ideas around with or check out how any issues about the content of the session and your school.  However it can give you a good basis for development.

b) The LA sessions are good and you have the advantage of being able to share the experiences of governors from other schools. Also you can discuss any problems or concerns you have with the tutor and other delegates to find out how other governors have handled similar situations. These events provide great opportunities to learn from other people’s experiences – good and bad!

c) An event organised by your school for your governing body has the advantage of being totally focussed on your school and at a time that suits your governing body. For example, if you really want to get to grips with RAISE Online there’s little to beat someone coming and taking you though your school’s RAISE online report and making sure you know how to interpret it and what to do about areas of good, average and poor performance. Your headteacher should be able to find suitable experts as they often have had training from them through head teacher’s organisations such as NAHT.

d) An event organised jointly with one or more other schools. This will not be so closely focussed on your own school but combines the advantages of b and c. Your headteacher and chair can jointly arrange these events, usually with the support of the LA.

If you go for options b or d then we recommend trying to see if you can go with at least one other member of your governing body. This means you have someone else on the spot to check how they think things apply to your school and also to help report back to the full governing body any issues they need to be aware of. It doesn’t matter if you both have different views about what is important what is important is that you help the rest of the governing body learn from your experience.

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Where else can I get advice?

There are more links on this page on our website: External Links

There are two additional links here: Governor Line www.governorline.info

UK Governors  www.ukgovernors.org.uk

If you cannot find the answer you want here you can
ASK THE EXPERT - Put your questions to our resident expert. (Ask the Expert)

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