Role of the Governing Body
There is no doubt that our governors play a critical role in the school’s success and I am extremely grateful that at Commonweal our governors are both challenging and supportive. In all the major developments that have taken place over the years the governors have been fully involved, reflective and committed to making the school as good as it can be.
We have always benefited from a fully subscribed governing body which has within it a wide range of skillsets. Looking ahead it is clear that the role of governors will continue to evolve but what I hope remains the same is the energy and passion of this group to get it right for Commonweal students.
The Governing Body is made up of representatives of the Staff, Parents and the Community. They are volunteers, but they have various legal responsibilities and duties. The role of governor is largely a thinking and questioning role and ideas from outside education can be useful; the day to day decisions about the running of the school is the role of the Head Teacher, supported by the staff. The main focus of our governors is on:
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
- Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff;
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
The Governing Body consists of 21 posts:
- 10 Appointed Governors – volunteers from the local community elected by the rest of the Governing Body, in line with national guidelines. They provide experience and continuity and the opportunity to ensure there is the right skill set on the Governing Body
- 7 Parent Governors – nominated and elected by parents/carers
- 4 Staff Governors (including the Headteacher) – nominated and elected by the staff
All our governors are members of the Full Governing Body (FGB) and also join one of the three sub-committees (Curriculum; Finance & Planning; Personnel & Student Welfare). The Chair, and Vice Chair(s) and Chairs of Committees form the Chairs Committee Group, who meets with the Head, Deputy Head (Curriculum), Deputy Head (Student Support) and Business Manager.
Some governors have additional specific responsibilities (e.g. for Special Educational Needs, Child Protection).
All committees and the FGB meet six times a year. Minutes of the FGB are available on our website. The term of office for all governors is four years, with the exception of the Headteacher.
Additional involvement with the school
There are many opportunities for governors to support school activities to develop understanding of the students and staff’s experience of teaching and learning, and of pastoral care.
It is recognised that, as volunteers, governors cannot necessarily attend school activities during usual working hours, but relevant events are not limited to those hours. Activities governors might consider attending or supporting are:
- Staff Training and Development days
- Staff twilight sessions
- Participating alongside staff in a pre-arranged programme of activities
- School trips and local visits
- Evening events
- Spending time in the school during the school day to familiarise themselves with the environment (classrooms; labs; specialist facilities; staff room) and meet staff and students
- Governors with special skills or interest may like to develop close links with relevant areas in the school
Individual governors will be expected to commit to:
- Attendance at FGB and committee meetings
- Spending a certain amount of time in school each year at school events or activities of interest to them and in support of school needs
- Reporting back to other governors at sub-committee or FGB
Governor Development and Training
The FGB has developed a formal induction programme for new governors, and in addition governors are asked to attend formal training courses from a variety of sources. The Commonweal FGB subscribes to Swindon Borough Council Governor Support which provides a full programme of governor training, some of which is available on-line. The FGB may organise information/training sessions prepared by staff, or invite external experts to give short courses/presentations at meetings.
Individual governors are expected to:
- keep abreast of training opportunities through the regular correspondence circulated by our clerk
- attend at least one formal course a year, chosen to reflect personal interest and school needs
- provide feedback on the course to other governors at a sub-committee or FGB meeting
In addition the FGB reflects on its impact and knowledge of our school governance annually to identify possible topics for commissioned training, which will then be specified in the governors section of the School Development Plan.
Why do people volunteer to become a governor?
This is best summed up by some of the comments from our governors:
Good quality education is important to students and for the country. I enjoy being able to make a small contribution in assisting the school in providing a good education and helping the school improve its outcomes, provide a strong ethos of care for others and in helping students in their stepping stones to adult life.
I enjoy being a governor because it allows me to have a greater understanding of the school and also allows me to support the school through the sharing of my business skills/experience and to give something back to the school that made me successful. I am proud to be a governor and thoroughly enjoy a role that requires dedication and commitment. The more you put in to understanding and supporting the school, the more personally rewarding you will find the role.
If you would like further information about the work of the Governors or like to consider becoming a governor, we like to hear from you. Please contact the Clerk to the Governors.