Roles of Governing Bodies and Headteacher

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ROLES OF GOVERNING BODIES AND HEAD TEACHERS

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INTRODUCTION

New Regulations come into force on 1 September 2000 which set out the “terms of reference” for governing bodies of all maintained schools in England (the Education (School Government) (Terms of Reference) (England) Regulations 2000). This guidance explains the content of the Regulations. It also invites governing bodies to consider the division of responsibilities between them and their head teachers and to review their procedures. The aim is to help governing bodies and head teachers work together as effectively as possible without duplication of effort. With one exception, the Regulations do not give governing bodies new duties, but clarify that their role is mainly strategic, and that they should act as a “critical friend” to the head teacher. The Regulations replace provisions in previous Articles of Government which were abolished on 31 August 1999 following the reconstitution of governing bodies.

The one new element in the Regulations is the requirement (Regulation 9) on the governing body to establish a written performance management policy. All schools will get a model policy and governors and heads will be trained so that this task should not be too burdensome. There is also a requirement for a curriculum policy (Regulation 8), but this is not imposing a new burden on heads and governing bodies who have always had to determine and organise their curriculum and ensure that it is followed within the school.

The full text of the Regulations can be found on the governors website: http://www.dfee.gov.uk/governor/governor.htm. Governors and heads may also refer to the Guide to the Law and the A-Z of School Leadership and Management for further information. They may also call the School Government Team on 0207 925 5791 and the Governors’ helplines: NGC on 01363 774377 or ISCG on 0207 2290200 or NAGM on 0800 241242 for advice.

WHAT DO THE REGULATIONS SAY?

The Regulations are made under section 38(3) of the 1998 School Standards and Framework Act. They set down a number of principles to operate as terms of reference for governing bodies. Governing bodies must act as a corporate body. They must also act with integrity, objectivity and honesty and in the best interests of the school. They must be open about, and prepared to explain, their decisions and actions. (Regulation 3).

The Regulations also describe the respective roles and responsibilities of governing bodies and head teachers. The governing body are to carry out their functions with the aim of taking a largely strategic role in the running of the school. This includes setting up a strategic framework for the school, setting its aims and objectives, setting policies and targets for achieving the objectives, reviewing progress and reviewing the strategic framework in the light of progress. The governing body should act as a “critical friend” to the head teacher by providing advice and support. (Regulation 4).

The head teacher is responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the school; and for advising on and implementing the governing body’s strategic framework. In particular, head teachers need to formulate aims and objectives, policies and targets for the governing body to consider adopting; and to report to the governing body on progress at least once every school year. (Regulation 5).

Where the governing body delegate any function to a head teacher the Regulations give them power to give the head reasonable directions in relation to that function, and oblige the head to comply with those directions. (Regulation 6). This makes it explicit that in delegating a function, the governing body can prescribe how that function should be undertaken. This is not a new requirement. It was previously in schools’ Articles of Government. Governing bodies may decide to delegate some of their functions to the head;...
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