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Becoming a Governor at WVCPS


Becoming a Governor at

Wetheringsett VC Primary School

Building Skills for Life

This brochure (which can also be downloaded as a PDF) is designed to tell you more about what being a governor at Wetheringsett Primary School involves.  It is intended for anyone who is interested in or thinking about becoming a governor at our school.  More detailed information about our school can be found on our school website or in our school brochure, or from talking to our Headteacher, Vicky Doherty, or one of our existing governors.  

What do governors do?

The role of a governor is to contribute to the work of the governing body in ensuring high standards of achievement for all children and young people in the school.  They do this by:


  1. Setting the school’s vision, ethos and strategic direction;

  2. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils; and

  3. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.

Vision and Ethos

At Wetheringsett our core Vision is to support each of our children in “Building skills for life”, so helping them to become caring, confident and successful individuals.  

We have identified the following things as particularly important to us in setting the ethos and determining the strategic direction of our school:

·       High but realistic expectations of each child

·       Supporting all to achieve to their full potential

·       Fostering enquiring, creative minds and inspired learners

·       Working in partnership with parents

·       Noticing, valuing, respecting and cherishing each child

·       Putting our Christian values at the heart of all we do

·       Having courtesy, good manners and consideration for others

·       Embracing technology to learn and adapt to our changing world

·       Seeing school at the heart of the wider community

·       Appreciating and understanding our local and wider environment

Wetheringsett Primary School is a “Voluntary Controlled” school.  This means that the school is a state-maintained school controlled by the Local Authority but, in recognition of the Church of England trust that historically donated the land and buildings to found the school, Christian values form the basis of our ethos and relationships with others. The governing body has two “foundation governors” who are appointed by the church and who have a special responsibility for maintaining the school’s religious character.


Activities

As part of the governing body team, a governor is expected to:

  1. Contribute to the strategic discussions at governing body meetings.  These determine:

the vision and ethos of the school;

clear and ambitious strategic priorities and targets for the school;

that all children, including those with special educational needs, have access to a broad and balanced curriculum;

the school’s budget, including the expenditure of the pupil premium allocation;

the school’s staffing structure and key staffing policies; and

the principles to be used by school leaders to set other school policies.

  1. Hold the headteacher to account by monitoring the school’s performance.  This includes:

agreeing the outcomes from the school’s self-evaluation and ensuring they are used to inform the priorities in the school development plan;

considering all relevant data and feedback provided on request by school leaders and external sources on all aspects of school performance;

asking challenging questions of school leaders;

ensuring senior leaders have arranged for the required audits to be carried out and receiving the results of those audits;

ensuring senior leaders have developed the required policies and procedures and the school is operating effectively according to those policies;

acting as a link governor on a specific issue, making relevant enquiries of the relevant staff, and reporting to the governing body on the progress on the relevant school priority; and

listening to and reporting to the school’s stakeholders: pupils, parents, staff, and the wider                  community, including local employers.

  1. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.  This entails ensuring the school staff have the resources and support they require to do their jobs well, including:

the necessary expertise on business management;

external advice where necessary;

effective appraisal and CPD (Continuing Professional Development); and

and suitable premises.

Governors must also ensure that the way in which the school’s resources are used has a positive impact on outcomes for children.

  1. When required, serve on panels of governors to:

appoint the headteacher and other senior leaders;

appraise the headteacher;

set the headteacher’s pay and agree the pay recommendations for other staff;

hear the second stage of staff grievances and disciplinary matters;

hear appeals about pupil exclusions.


The role of governor is largely a thinking and questioning role, not a doing role.

A governor does NOT:

Write school policies;

Undertake audits of any sort – whether financial or health & safety - even if the governor has the relevant professional experience;

Spend much time with the pupils of the school – if you want to work directly with children, there are many other voluntary valuable roles within the school;

Fundraise – this is the role of the parent-teacher association – the governing body should consider income streams and the potential for income generation, but not carry out fundraising tasks;

Undertake classroom observations to make judgements on the quality of teaching – the governing body monitors the quality of teaching in the school by requiring data from the senior staff and from external sources; or

Do the job of the school staff – if there is not enough capacity within the paid staff team to carry out the necessary tasks, the governing body need to consider and rectify this.

Governors may also be involved with the school in other capacities and in other ways (e.g. as a classroom volunteer, through the “Friends” parent-teacher association, or volunteering assistance in relation to other school projects).  However, this is not governance and is not part of the expectation of the role of governors.

In order to perform the governance role well, a governor is expected to:

get to know the school, including by visiting the school occasionally during school hours, and gain a good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses; at Wetheringsett, we encourage governors to try to carry out at least one formal visit to the school a term to enable them to develop their knowledge of the school;

attend induction training and regular relevant training and development events;

attend meetings (full governing body meetings and committee meetings) and read all the papers before the meeting;

act in the best interests of all the pupils of the school; and

behave in a professional manner, including acting in strict confidence; at Wetheringsett we have a Governing Body “Code of Conduct”, which all governors are required to sign and are expected adhere to.

As you become more experienced as a governor, you may take on other roles which would increase your degree of involvement and level of responsibility (e.g as a chair of a committee).

Skills

School governance is increasingly complex; expectations of governors and the strategic role played by the governing body has increased markedly in recent years.  Regulations now require governing bodies to place particular focus on ensuring that their members have the appropriate skills to support effective governance and the success of the school.  This is particularly the case in relation to “co-opted” governors, who are appointed by the governing body.  At Wetheringsett, we also believe that diversity is an important element in securing effective governance, and skills can include personal attributes and qualities, as well as an ability and willingness to develop new skills.

Time commitment

Governors are expected to attend two governing body meetings a term, which usually take place in the evening from 6-8pm.  In addition, governors may be asked to join a governing body committee, which will meet for an hour one or two times a time.  Governors will be expected to read the papers for all meetings in advance.  In addition, we encourage all governors to carry out at least one formal governor visit to the school each term to look at a particular aspect of school development, and to write up a report of their visit afterwards.

There may be periods when the time commitment may increase, for example when recruiting a headteacher. Some more experienced governors may also spend more time on school business given their roles chairing committees or the governing body.  In addition, governors may undertake additional volunteering roles within the school which is beyond governance (see above).

Under Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, if you are employed, then you are entitled to ‘reasonable time off’ to undertake public duties, which includes school governance. ‘Reasonable time off’ is not defined in law, and you will need to negotiate with your employer how much time you will be allowed.

Governors may receive out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of fulfilling their role as governor.

Interested in finding out more?

We are always interested in hearing from people who are interested in the role of school governor and feel they have the skills and time to help support effective governance at our school.  If you would like to find out more, please contact our chair of governors via the school contact details or those given on the 'Our Governors' tab.