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Dates 04 June 2013 – 24 June 2013
Time spent reading 1 hour, 20 minutes
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In all types of schools, governing bodies should have a strong focus on three core strategic functions: a. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction; b. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils; and c. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.

Effective governing bodies hold their headteacher and other senior school leaders to account for improving school performance by asking the right questions.

Governors who lead on understanding and scrutinising attainment data should see and analyse the full RAISEonline summary report. For other governors, less detail may suffice – but it is important that all governors see some form of summary of key RAISEonline data for their school.

Governors need to know their school. Many governors find that visiting, particularly during the day, is a helpful way to find out about the school.

While it may be helpful to see classes at work, governors are not inspectors and it is not their role to assess the quality or method of teaching. They are also not school managers and should make sure they do not interfere in the day-to-day running of the school. Both are the role of the headteacher.

Governing bodies are responsible for making sure their school's money is well spent. They should do this by making sure they have at least one governor with specific skills and experience of financial matters

Maintained school governing bodies are legally responsible for the conduct of their school.

So although they are made up of volunteers, governing bodies cannot afford to be amateur and must be held to account for their effectiveness.

Every inspection report will comment on the quality of governance as part of the overall judgement on the quality of the school's leadership and management.

GovernorLine – funded by us to provide independent advice and guidance to governors

We want governing bodies to be tightly focused and no larger than they need to be to carry out their core strategic functions.

The constitution of all maintained school governing bodies is set out in their instrument of government8. The governing body drafts the instrument and submits it to the LA.

The four compulsory stakeholder groups for community, community special schools and maintained nursery schools are:  parent governors;  staff governors;  authority governors; and  community governors.

The governing body can appoint associate members to serve on one or more governing body committees. Associate members can attend full governing body meetings but may be excluded from any part of a meeting where the business being considered concerns a member of school staff or an individual pupil. They are appointed for a period of between one and four years and can be reappointed at the end of their term of office. Associate members are not governors and they are not recorded in the instrument of government.

The governing body should not be involved in the detail of the day-to-day management of the school. The governing body delegates powers to allow the headteacher to perform his or her management duties. The headteacher must report to the governing body regularly on how those powers have been carried out.

For maintained school governing bodies, we have published statutory guidance on the procedures they must follow

Clerks should provide written notice for meetings at least seven clear days in advance, together with a copy of the agenda and any reports and papers to be considered at the meeting. The chair may determine a shorter period is appropriate in cases of emergency.

The quorum for governing body meetings and for any vote at a meeting is one half (rounded up to the nearest whole number) of the membership of the governing body, not including any vacant positions.

No decision on a change of maintained school name can take effect unless the issue was an agenda item at a meeting for which appropriate notice was given and all members of the governing body vote in favour of the change of name. Any governor unable to attend the meeting to discuss the change of name may vote by proxy where the proxy is a governor or associate member whose appointment is in writing and signed by the governor unable to attend. This is the only occasion where a proxy vote is allowed.

In September 2013, we will introduce new regulations for maintained schools and pupil referral units. The regulations will replace those covering governing body procedures, terms of reference and governors' allowances.

They must reassure themselves that their school has a procedure to deal with complaints and that the procedure is publicised.

Governing bodies of maintained schools (excluding maintained nursery schools) and academies should reassure themselves that the school has a written statement of the policy they adopt on sex education and make it available to parents.

The EYFS framework sets out requirements for both learning and development, and safeguarding and welfare in early years provision. It is mandatory23 for all providers. This includes maintained schools and academies and all providers on the Early Years Register. The EYFS statutory guidance outlines the framework.

Governing bodies of maintained schools have legal duties24 in relation to pupils with SEN.

The governing body must set up appropriate staffing and funding arrangements and oversee the school's work. The general duties of governing bodies and the ‘responsible person' are set out in full in paragraphs 1:16 to 1:22 of the ‘SEN Code of Practice'.

The governing body of a community, foundation or voluntary school or a maintained nursery school must designate a member of staff at the school, known as the special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO)29. The SENCO has lead responsibility for co-ordinating the provision for pupils with SEN and disabilities. Regulations30 require that the lead person designated by the governing body as SENCO must be either a qualified teacher at the school, or the headteacher or acting headteacher.

The governing body should reassure itself that the key responsibilities of the SENCO are drawn up and monitor the effectiveness of the way the responsibilities are carried out against a list of illustrative activities, as described in the ‘SEN Code of Practice' (chapter 1, paragraphs 16–22).

Governing bodies should also reassure themselves that any newly appointed SENCO gains a nationally approved masters-level training qualification, known as the ‘National Award for Special Educational Needs Co-ordination' within three years of appointment

Governing bodies of all maintained schools are required to appoint a designated teacher to promote the educational achievement of looked after children who are on the school roll

Recent regulation36 exempts from routine inspection all outstanding maintained primary and secondary schools and academies.

Since September 2012, the quality of school governance has been central to the overall inspection judgement on the overall leadership and management of a school. Every inspection report contains an explicit comment on the quality of governance

Ofsted may inspect without notice but in most cases schools receive notice of around half a day. Notification will normally be to the headteacher, who is expected to inform the governing body.

When it receives the report, the governing body37, must arrange for:  the parents of all pupils to be sent a copy of it within five working days;  the report to be made available to any member of the public who wishes to see it, at such times and places as may be reasonable; and  copies of the report to be provided to anyone who asks.

Maintained school governing bodies must make sure that their school has policies designed to promote good behaviour and discipline among pupils. These policies must include the school's approach to the use of reasonable force to control or restrain pupils. Guidance on reasonable force is in ‘Use of Reasonable Force – Advice for headteachers, staff and governing bodies'. Maintained schools should not have a ‘no contact' policy.

The governing body must also make, and periodically review, a written statement of principles to help the headteacher determine the measures that make up the school's behaviour policy42. This duty cannot be delegated.

Governing bodies of maintained schools should ensure that all food provided by the school meets nutritional standards

Some pupils have additional health needs and may require medicines, adaptations or support to keep well. Governing bodies must oversee the development of policies that cover their own circumstances.

All schools have a common law power to bar troublesome adults from the school premises.

The governing body has key responsibilities in relation to reviewing headteachers' exclusion decisions47 and must arrange suitable full-time education for excluded pupils from the sixth school day of a fixed-period exclusion

The duty to provide suitable education for children of compulsory school age who cannot attend school due to illness or injury (alternative provision) rests with LAs.

The governing body of a maintained school or academy trust must reassure itself that the school keeps admission and attendance registers in accordance with the regulations