Improving your Governing Board

How can we improve our practice?
Governing boards want to do the very best they can for their schools, pupils and local communities. That is why their members give so freely of their time.  Below are listed some ideas, tools and materials to help governors reflect on their practice by considering the principles and approaches they use.  Each governing board is unique and different methods of improvement may work better for one governing board than another.
Governing Board Health Check
An effective governing board is involved in tracking school improvement, but also has a duty to review its own practices and operation. One way of doing this is to carry out a Health Check, involving the whole governing board. Once completed, the areas that the governing board wish to improve can form the basis of a Governing Board Improvement Plan, which can either be a stand-alone document, or be added to the School Improvement Plan.

It is recommended that a self-review of the governing board is carried out either annually or biannually and the plan updated at governing board meetings as outcomes are achieved. One example of a Health Check can be found here: Governing Board Health Check.

The National Governance Association (NGA) is an independent charity representing and supporting governors, trustees and clerks in maintained schools and academies in England.

The NGA's goal is to improve the wellbeing of children and young people by increasing the effectiveness of governing boards and promoting high standards. It does this by providing information, advice, guidance, research and training. It also works closely with, and lobbies, UK government and educational bodies, and is the leading campaigning national membership organisation for school governors and trustees.

The NGA provides a number of resources which you may find useful:

The Code of Conduct sets out the purpose of the governing board, expectations of governors and describes the appropriate relations between individual governors, the whole governing board and the leadership team of the school. 
A Skills Audit enables governing boards to ensure they have sufficient expertise to carry out their core duties effectively.  However, it is also important for governors to know their school and community, so skills relating to this are also included.

Details on becoming a member of the NGA are available on their website.

A good governing board takes responsibility for training its governors and most have a governor or clerk with the specific responsibility for ensuring every governor develops the skills they need to be effective.  Each individual governing board will differ, however the role of the person responsible for governor development may include:
  • Helping the governing board to identify its training needs
  • Encouraging individual governors to attend training courses and report back to the governing board
  • Providing relevant information to the governing board about training matters
  • Becoming a link for training and development between the GB and the LA and other partners
  • Inducting new governors and making them aware of training opportunities
  • Encouraging all governors to become involved in the work of the governing board and the school
Giving new and existing governors the opportunity to develop their skills will enable them to make an active and valuable contribution to the work of the governing board.   
It is important that new governors feel welcomed into the governing board and school community and have the necessary information and support to fulfil their role with confidence.

The GST have developed a model pack with some suggestions of necessary information that will be useful to new governors and also provides the facility for appointment/election details to be included.  Please feel free to amend/adapt the pack to your governing boards needs.

Recruitment of governors
The Governor Support Team provide a poster and materials to provide information on the role of a governor and to support schools and governing boards in recruiting governors, please see documents:

When considering recruitment, it is always useful to consider the number on your governing board.  A governing board can reconstitute at any time.  Reconstitution is a legal process which has to be undertaken through the Local Authority, and in consultation with the Diocese and foundations as appropriate.  A Skills Audit may a governing board when undergoing the Reconstitution Process.

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills. They inspect and regulate services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages.
The Ofsted Framework sets out how the general principles and processes of inspection are applied to maintained schools and several other types of school in England.