Helping school governors improve their schools

The governing body comprises the head teacher, parent and teacher representatives with the remainder being elected members of the community who is led by a chair of governors. As there are parent representatives on the governing body, these members can be approached by other parents who can bring concerns and requests for improvements and other issues to the board’s attention.

The governing body has responsibility for school improvement which includes the creation of the school’s School Improvement Plan (SIP). Together with the school’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) they have strategic oversight of all aspects of the school including teaching and learning. Minutes are taken of each meeting and apart from confidential information under the Data Protection Act, now GDPR, parents can request to see the minutes of governors’ meetings.

So what can we do to support our school governors in making improvements to our children’s schools?

  • Become informed of local issues that are affecting education in your area and in your child’s school in particular.
  • Be proactive in bringing these issues to the attention of the governing body, in the right way. It is easy to spot problems and moan about them; this does not take a lot of effort. This leads on to the next point.
  • Propose solutions to the issues that you see. The governors may very well be aware of these issues; however, your idea may just spark the solution that could solve the problem.
  • Be willing to volunteer your time and skills where possible to the school, because these may be relevant to an aspect of school improvement. It may not be anything ‘grand’; it could be offering time to help raise money for projects, or making links with local businesses or services who may have resources and expertise.
  • If you have children who attend different schools, say primary and secondary, or have friends whose children go to other schools, find out what the governing bodies in these respective schools are doing and get some cross pollination going! One of the ways that governing bodies can improve is by linking up with other governing bodies and visiting their schools.

If you are concerned about or want to know more about how teaching and learning is monitored, try asking them questions such as:

  • How does the school monitor the delivery or the curriculum?
  • How do pupils from our neighbouring schools compare with pupils in our school?
  • What does the school do differently/better?

Finally the government states that, “in the future school governors will…only be appointed if they have the skills and experience to drive school improvement.”  Schools Minister Lord Nash is quoted as saying that, “The best businesses have a skilful board of directors keeping them on the right path. I want to see the same approach in schools. Our proposals will ensure governing bodies in local-authority-run schools have the people they need to drive up standards.”

The National Governance Association has information and tools for school governing bodies available on their website. It may be that you or someone you know has the skills that an effective governing body needs?

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