Although the Headteacher manages the school from day to day, it is the governors, as a corporate body, who are legally responsible for the school and who work together to make decisions which are in the best interest of the children. We are accountable to parents, the local community, the local education authority and the church for the performance of the school. We have three key roles:
- Provide a strategic view
- Be a critical friend
- Ensure accountability.
We work with the Headteacher and staff to:
- Establish the aims and policies of the school
- Draw up the School Improvement Plan and monitor it
- Appoint staff
- Prepare and set the budget plan and monitor the school budget.
In practice this usually involves scrutiny and supervision of the Headteacher’s recommendations. However all the above are ultimately the responsibility of the governors.
Our Full Governing Body meetings take place at least once a term. We also have two main committees, School Improvement and Resources, which meet at least once a term. We plan how best to be a proactive presence. We also meet as Governors to consider special or urgent business.
All governors have a responsibility for particular areas within school life. This enables us to use our expertise in supporting the school, and if necessary to work more closely with staff. These special responsibilities include Safeguarding, Special Educational Needs (SEN), Health & Safety, Premises, Early Years, Performance Management, Community and the wider curriculum. Governors keep up to date with ongoing training.
There is certainly plenty to keep us occupied!
HOW GOVERNORS ARE APPOINTED
Cumnor School has five categories of governor:
- Foundation Three Foundation governors are nominated by St Michael’s PCC and approved by the Oxford Diocese. Currently one of our foundation positions is being held vacant for the new vicar when he or she is appointed.
- Local Authority The Local Authority nominates one governor.
- Staff There are two staff governors. The Headteacher, who reports to the governing body, is ex officio one of the staff governors.
- Parent Three parent governors are elected by the parents.
- Three Co-Opted governors. Co-Opted governors bring particular skills and experience to the Governing Body.
All governors apart from the Headteacher serve a 4-year term, but they can be nominated or elected again when their term expires.
THREE COMMON MYTHS ABOUT GOVERNORS
- “Governors represent those who elect them or nominate them.” We don’t. We are not mandated.
- “Governors have individual authority.” We don’t. We only have the collective authority of the governing body.
- “Governors are responsible for the management of the school.” Not true. Day to day management is the Headteacher’s responsibility, not the governors.
A Governors’ newsletter is published at intervals through the school year. We also post photographs and names of the governors on a notice board at the front entrance. Parents are welcome to contact any of us. You will see some of us – the parent governors in particular – more often than others in and around the school. However each of us is committed to the well-being of the children, staff and school, and we frequently work behind the scenes.
Parents are welcome to contact any of us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT’S THE COMMITMENT?
For the curious, and for anyone who might be interested in serving as a school governor, here is some idea of the scale of commitment. The Full Governing Body meets six times a year, once each term, usually for about two hours from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. From time to time there may need to be extra meetings.
Some Governors serve on both of the two main committees, and all serve on at least one. There are individual responsibilities which will require liaison with the school such as premises, library, SEN, and Health & Safety. All governors also try to fit in one half day per year visiting the school to observe an aspect of the school, on which they report to the Headteacher. Governors are encouraged to attend “high days and holidays” at school, such as the Christmas Fair and Summer Fete and school services held at St. Michael’s Church. From September 2014 each Governor, will become a ‘friend’ of a year group. This will give us all a chance to become more personally involved in the school from the perspective of a class.
Though we wouldn’t pretend that there isn’t a good deal of commitment as a governor, working for the common good of Cumnor School can be very rewarding voluntary service. Governor training is provided by the county and the diocese. New blood on the governing body is always welcome and the constitution tends to ensure that there is change. There are other ways to volunteer of course: the Cumnor School Parent Teacher Association is another huge support to the school and provides opportunities for parents to help in so many ways. Other parents and grandparents may help with initiatives such as reading. However, we are always on the lookout as vacancies emerge, for those who can add specific skills to our School Governing Body to ensure breadth of vision and expertise.