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Teamwork: an introduction for school governors (Wales)
Teamwork: an introduction for school governors (Wales)

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1.2 Team roles

This section provides some background on team roles. As you work through it, think about the work you undertake in teams and the work you have undertaken with others, whether on a governing body or elsewhere.

The most quoted work on teamwork is Belbin’s research (1981). Whilst this has been developed and refined over the years, it still forms the basis of research and writing about teamwork. Belbin identifies nine clusters of behaviours, or roles, in a team. He suggests that individuals are more effective if they are allowed to play the roles they are most skilled in or most inclined to play, although they can adopt roles other than their preferred ones if necessary.

Each of the nine roles has both positive and negative aspects. Click on each one for more details:

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Teamworking is not always easy, but it has a number of benefits. It provides a structure and means of bringing together people who have a mix of skills and knowledge. It also encourages the exchange of ideas, creativity, motivation and scrutiny, and can help to improve quality, attainment and the school experience. You should now attempt Activity 3.

Activity 3: Reflecting on team roles

Timing: Allow 5 minutes

Having learnt about the range of team roles that exist, take a few moments to reflect on the contributions you make to your governing body and other teams you form a part of. Which of the nine roles discussed above do you prefer to adopt? Do you take on different roles depending on the team you are working in?

Having reflected on the questions take a few moments and make a note of your responses to each question in the text box below.

You can download the notes you make by using the ‘download answers’ box which appears when you first save a comment on this course.

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There is no single answer to this activity: its purpose is to help you consolidate your thinking about your contributions to teams, and in particular the governing body you are a member of. You may have drawn on several of the team roles outlined by Belbin, or you may have found that one role in particular stood out. Thinking about past experiences and contributions can inform your present and future behaviour. By understanding your own preferences, you can build and develop your contributions to the work of the governing body, its committees and work with staff, parents, carers and the wider community. Being able to work with others in a team so that the right things are achieved is an important skill.

As a governor you attend meetings, committees and, perhaps, participate in small working parties. You may also visit the school to gain first-hand evidence of the quality of teaching and learning, or the conduct of pupils. You may have to present information to parents and carers, or participate in a school inspection and then draw up an action plan in response to the inspection report. All of these tasks are undertaken by working with others.

In this section of the course you have learnt that in undertaking your voluntary work as a governor, you form part of a team of governors. The governing body team is more effective when it works to make the best use of the skills, experiences and talents of its individual governors and draws upon each of their strengths. By understanding your own strengths and weaknesses as a team member, you can make a more effective contribution.

However, when individuals come together to work in a team, some form of leadership is required. A team needs facilitation and oversight, and, on occasions, a way of managing differing opinions. This is where the role of Chair of Governors [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] is beneficial. Leadership is discussed further in Section 4.

Section 2 explores an important example of team working in schools in more depth: the concept of ‘partnership’ working with parents and carers. Understanding how and why schools work with parents and carers helps you to develop your expertise as a governor and enables you to reflect on the many differing types of teams found in your school community.