Over 250,000 volunteers, drawn from all walks of life, serve as school or federation governors, ar as trustees in Multi-Academy Trusts across England and Wales. Below we seek to answer just a few of the questions that are typically asked about school governance, within our Federation and beyond.
1. Do school governors get paid?
No. Members of the Board give their time voluntarily and receive no payment; occasionally, they may claim specific pre-agreed out of pocket expenses.
2. How often do we meet?
The Full Board meets each September to elect officers, allocate responsibilities and map out its plans for the academic year ahead, and then three times during the course of the year. In addition, there is an additional meeting of the Full Board to ratify the Budget for the following academic year. The three Sub-committees also each meet three times a year, once per term. In addition, governors meet with staff members, parents and others in the course of discharging their responsibilities.
3. Where and when do we meet?
Usually, Full Governing Board meetings are held at Bushey Manor while Sub-committee meetings are held at Bushey and Oxhey. Most of our formal meetings are held in the evenings to enable participation by those with work commitments. In addition, governors visit the school to observe teaching practice and to support a range of events and activities, especially those relating to their special interests, their areas of expertise, or their responsibilities as Link Governors or Sub-committee members.
4. How long do school governors serve for?
Governors are typically appointed for a term of four years, but they can seek nomination or. Re-election for a second period?
5. Is your employer likely to support you in your role as a school governor?
Possibly. Some employers encourage their staff to get involved as school governors or the trustees of charities and allow a certain number of days per year to support this kind of voluntary activity. As an organisation, this enables the employer to demonstrate that it is a good, socially responsible ‘corporate citizen’. The employer is also likely to see this kind of participation as a good way for individuals to develop and demonstrate skills that might subsequently be valuable in the workplace and in their career.
6. Do we get support or advice to improve our effectiveness and decision making?
Yes. Our Board is supported by the team of governance professionals in the Clerking Service at Herts For Learning. Both of our Clerks, Rod Woodhouse and Allyson Woodhouse, are former Primary School Headteachers and Rod is currently Chair of Governors at another local school. As such, aside from their clerking duties at all Full Board and Sub-committee meetings, which we detail elsewhere in this section of the website, they bring a wealth of additional educational experience to our discussions.
7. Do governors get involved in the day-to-day running of the Federation’s schools?
No. Governors do not become involved in the day-to-day operational running of the Federation or of either school; we do not have the professional skills or knowledge to do so and, in any case, that is not our role. Instead, this responsibility falls to the Federation Headteacher, Mary Ann Cooper, and, through her, to the team of education professionals that she leads. We are required to develop and maintain an understanding of how our schools and the wider Federation are doing, but our job is to provide strategic oversight and support rather than to dive into the detail. To this end, one recent report described good governance in any sector as being about “keeping your nose in but your hands out”, and that’s certainly the case in school and federation governance. Governing Boards seek to oversee the education offered in schools on behalf of the communities they serve, but we do not ‘run’ schools.
8. If I am unhappy about something, at what point do I seek to involve the Board?
In terms of concerns and complaints, these are only escalated to Board level where a parent, carer, staff member or other stakeholder feels that a serious or persistent issue has not been appropriately addressed by those with responsibility for doing so. Thus, if you feel a matter has not been dealt with appropriately by the Federation Headteacher, you may decide to bring your concern or complaint to the attention of the Board, usually through the Chair. Likewise, if you feel that the Head or the Board have come to an erroneous decision (for instance, with respect to the treatment of a child of yours), there is a process, facilitated by the Board, through which you can appeal against any decision made or action taken. Further information about the procedure for raising a concern or complaint with the Board, or launching an appeal, can be found elsewhere on this website, and hard copies of the relevant documentation are available from each of our school offices.
9. Do you need any special qualifications to become a governor?
No, just a commitment to get stuck in and play your part. Members of the Board, as frequent visitors to our schools, do undergo a full DBS check, but, other than that, no formal qualifications are required.
10.Will I get any training to help me become effective as a school governor?
Yes. A variety of organisations provide training courses in a range of areas in which governors have responsibility and you will have access to these. To discharge certain responsibilities in certain areas - such as in recruitment, or managing appeals, or child protection – you may need specialist training and this will be provided without cost to you, and, of course, you’ll also have support from your colleagues on the Board and from bodies like the National Governance Association. As governors, we are all equally and collectively responsible for any decisions taken, so, literally and legally, as a member of our Board, you will not be on your own