Summer Term, 2013.
“Oh no, not another committee!”
The word “committee” is not one to raise the spirits, but the St. Mark’s governor committees are where a lot of the interesting and important spadework of school governance gets done. A governing body doesn’t by law have to have any committees at all, and some years ago the governors at St. Mark’s decided to streamline the structure to just the Full Governing Body and a Finance Committee. But, over the years, the number of committees and panels had crept up again, and last year the governors decided it was time to take a fresh look at their working structure.
With the help of an experienced and wise governor trainer, we settled on just two committees – Curriculum, and Resources. The Curriculum Committee covers the word in its widest sense, including teaching and learning, pupil achievement, the spiritual, moral and social development of the children and their pastoral care, and staff performance, training and well-being. The Resources Committee combines the responsibilities of the previous Finance and Premises and Health and Safety Committees, and also matters of staff pay. Each committee has powers delegated to it from the Governing Body. For instance, the Curriculum Committee monitors and reviews a long list of policies that fall within its remit, and the Resources Committee approves the annual budget.
The Full Governing Body establishes the strategic framework for the school. Fine words, which in practice mean that it sets aims and objectives for the school, appoints the Headteacher, and approves the School Development Plan – all absolutely fundamental to success. Each “old” term (ie three times a year), Claire produces a Headteacher’s Report To Governors – a detailed account of the achievements, activities, events and issues of the preceding few months plus an update on progress of the annual School Development Plan. It reflects a lot of work for Claire, but it is an opportunity for both headteacher and governors to review, discuss and reflect on progress within the School
An innovation in the new structure is a Strategic Leadership Group, consisting of the chair and vice-chair of the Full Governing Body, the Headteacher, and the chairs of the Curriculum and the Resources Committees. This group doesn’t have any powers delegated to it, but its job is to make sure that the activities of the governing body are coordinated, efficient and productive. It’s also available at short notice to respond and offer support to the Headteacher on matters of particular urgency or difficulty. None have arisen yet, but staffing matters or pupil discipline are twopossible examples. Thirdly, the group keeps the Governing Body up to speed with national strategic trends and directives – the current one being the question of academy status.
A shake-up from time to time is usually a good thing, and the review has been an opportunity to reflect on the roles and responsibilities of governors. The structure of the Governing Body is dry stuff, perhaps: but an essential framework for us to function effectively.
(Foundation governor, appointed by the Parochial Church Council)