4.4 Putting this into practice

There are many aspects to your role as a governor. However, team working underpins the work of a governing body. Each governing body will draw upon the experiences and skills of their individual governors in different ways. In this way each governing body is unique.

Section 5 provides an opportunity to reflect on what you have learnt on this course and how it can be applied to your work as a governor. Through your studies you have explored team roles, team working, thought about leadership and learnt about ‘partnership’ working, a form of teamwork used in schools which brings together parents, carers, practitioners and others to support the education, wellbeing and development of children.

Governing bodies run their own development sessions. Your governing body may have undertaken a skills audit to inform discussion of committee membership, the roles of lead governors. A skills audit can be a useful starting point in forming an effective team and enabling governors to draw upon existing skills and knowledge, and develop new skills.

Activity 9: Teamwork and the governing body

Timing: Allow 5 minutes

Take a few moments to reflect on the work of your governing body. How do you undertake an evaluation to the effectiveness of the governing body on an annual basis?

Record your thoughts in a blog on the course website. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

Comment

There are statutory requirements that a governing body must fulfil including annual reports and meeting with parents (if petitioned). Guidance is provided for the content of such reports but what other activities do you carry out?

Strong governance is essential in the drive to improve school standards and there is a number of tools that a governing body can draw upon to assist their work.

The role played by teamworking within a governing body is important. To develop the team and provide some form of consistency tools such as regular skills audits and questioning approaches can assist. They also help provide a focus for discussion, planning and development. Table 2 contains examples of questions you may wish to develop for use in your own governing body meetings to provide a focus for discussion, consensus and common understanding and goals. As you have learnt these all make a contribution to successful teamwork.

Table 2 Questions for a governing body.

Right skills

Do we have the right skills on the governing board?

  1. Have we completed a skills audit to inform future training and development?
  2. Do we use the skills audit as the basis of governor appointments?

Effectiveness

Are we as effective as we could be?

  1. How well do we understand governor roles and responsibilities?
  2. Do we take a strategic approach?
  3. Do we respect the Head teacher’s role in the everyday running of the school?
  4. Do we have an induction and plan to meet development needs?
  5. Is the size, composition and committee structure of our governing board conducive to effective working?
  6. How do we keep up to date with changes in policy and legislation?

Role of the chair

Does our chair show strong and effective leadership?

  1. Do we review of the chair’s performance?
  2. Do we elect the chair each year?
  3. Do we engage in good succession planning?
  4. Is there an annual review of contributions to the board’s performance?

Strategy

Does the school have a clear vision and strategic priorities?

  1. Does our vision look forward three to five years?
  2. Does our strategy include what the children who have left the school will have achieved?
  3. Have we agreed a strategy with priorities for achieving our vision with key performance indicators?
  4. Do we regularly monitor and review the strategy?
  5. How effectively does our strategic planning cycle drive the governing board’s activities and agenda setting?

Engagement

Are we properly engaged with our school community, the wider school sector and the outside world?

  1. How well do we listen to, understand and respond to our pupils, parents, carers and staff?
  2. How do we make regular reports on the work of the governing board?
  3. How do we listen and respond to feedback?

Accountability of the executive

Do we hold the school leaders to account?

  1. How well do we understand the school’s performance data (including in-year progress tracking data) so we can properly hold school leaders to account?
  2. Do governors regularly visit the school to get to know it and monitor the implementation of the school strategy?
  3. How well does our policy review schedule work and how do we ensure compliance?
  4. Do we know how effective performance management of all staff is within the school?
  5. Are the financial management systems robust so we can ensure best value for money?

Impact

Are we having an impact on outcomes for pupils?

  1. How much has the school improved over the last three years?
  2. What has the governing board’s contribution been to this?
(Adapted from NGA, 2015)

As a governor you are involved in consideration of a wide range of documentation and data including performance, achievement and budget. You may be called upon to find a solution to issues that have arisen, or you may be involved in planning for change. Building a common understanding, setting common goals and drawing upon governor’s expertise and experience is helpful in addressing problems and planning for change. Table 3 contains a suggestion for a questioning approach which draws on team working and can help build a common understanding and shared solutions and objectives.

Table 3 Finding solutions through team working.

Identify the issue
  • What is the issue or problem?
  • To whom is it a problem and why?
  • Are there any other impacts?
Analysis
  • What are the ‘symptoms’ of this problem?
  • What are the different aspects to it?
  • How do these relate to team inputs, throughputs and outputs?
  • What information is available?
  • What evidence do we need?
Conclusions
  • What is the conclusion?

Provide an overview and set out important causes of the problem and significant features of the analysis.

Recommendations
  • What does solution achieve?
  • What are the constraints?
  • What are the options for addressing the issue or problem?
  • How do these options address the problem or areas for improvement identified?
  • Which option appeals most and why?
  • How you will monitor, review or evaluate the success of the solution(s).

State any assumptions have been made.

Advantages, disadvantages and implications

Consider these carefully.

Set out how particular disadvantages or negative implications might be addressed Making sure that any plans are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound)

You should now attempt the final activity.

Activity 10: My work as a governor

Timing: Allow 30 minutes

Think about what you have learnt and make notes on the following.

  • What do you now understand by the phrase ‘team working’?
  • What teams are you involved in as a governor?
  • As a governor do you lead any teams?
  • What are the strengths of team working?
  • Does your governing body have a ‘common purpose’?
  • How does ‘partnership’ working benefit the education of pupils?
  • What understandings, values, attitudes and beliefs relating to how children learn and develop do you share with others on the governing body?
  • What things will you do differently in your role as a governor having studies this course?

Record your thoughts in a blog on the course website.

Comment

There are no correct answers to this activity. Your responses will be unique and based on your own experiences and understanding. A willingness to learn, adapt and contribute all form part of a governor’s role. Learning is an individual experience and we hope that through your studies of this course you have gained a greater understanding of team working and the role it plays in your work as a governor. You should now be able to identify your own preferences in terms of team roles and we hope you find this understanding beneficial to your work as a governor.

As a governor you make an invaluable contribution to your school community and to the education of pupils in Wales. As a governor, you (Governors Cymru Services, 2007):

  • are a volunteer
  • care about teaching, learning and children
  • represent those people with a key interest in the school, including parents, carers, staff, the local community and the LA
  • are a part of a team which accepts responsibility for everything a school does
  • have time to commit to meetings and other occasions when needed
  • are willing to learn
  • are able to act as a friend who supports the school but is still able to cast a critical eye upon how the school works and the standard it achieves
  • act as a link between parents, carers, the local community, the LA and the school.

As a governor your work is also informed by ‘The 7 principles of public life’ (Committee on Standards in Public Life, 1995).

4.3 Values and beliefs in the context of teamwork

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