Introduction to the Academy Government Committee
William Law CE Primary School operates under the governance of the Peterborough Diocese Education Trust. Please see the structure of the AGC by visiting www.pdet.org.uk/governance/pdet-governance-structure
HOW DOES THE GOVERNING BODY MAKE DECISIONS?
No matter how appointed or elected all governors bring a valid point of view to the governing body. The responsibility for the decisions made at governing body meetings does not rest with any individual governor, or a small group of governors, but with the whole governing body. Responsibility for decisions is, therefore, a corporate matter and it is important that governors also understand that decisions taken by a committee are taken on behalf of the whole governing body.
All meetings must be quorate (that is, have at least a minimum number of governors present) in order to make decisions. If possible, governors try to reach a consensus wherever possible. However, if that proves not to be possible, decisions will be made by simple majority vote. If the vote is a tie, the chair has a casting vote if he chooses to use it. The chair of governors (or, in his absence, the vice-chair) has power to act on behalf of the governing body but only when this is specified in policies approved by the governing body or in urgent cases where not taking immediate action would harm the interests of the school, its pupils, parents or employees. Any such urgent action by the chair or vice-chair must be reported to the next meeting of the full governing body.
WHAT HAPPENS AT GOVERNORS' MEETINGS?
The Academy Government Committee is required to meet 6 times a year.
Meetings open with prayer and all formal meetings have an agenda which indicates the business to be discussed. The issues that might be discussed at will vary, but some items will be standard. For example there will be minutes of the previous meeting and any matters arising and the headteacher’s report. The chair of governors tries to conduct the meeting so that everyone has an opportunity to contribute. The clerk to the governors takes the minutes of the meeting, records those present and advises on procedural matters. Governors are asked to prepare for meetings by reading the papers (which are usually sent out electronically about a week beforehand) and noting any points they want to make or wish to clarify.
New governors are given help to enable them to understand their role and the issues facing the school through an induction programme. They are also allocated a more experienced governor as a ‘mentor’.
HOW CAN A NEW GOVERNOR GET TO KNOW THE SCHOOL?
It is important that governors get to know their school in order that decisions made at governors’ meetings can be based, as far as possible, on first-hand knowledge of the school at work. It is helpful to read the school prospectus and other documents about the school but there is no substitute for a school visit. An enjoyable aspect of being a governor is involvement with the pupils during the school day. Visits are planned in consultation with the headteacher and any member of staff whose class you are to visit. Governors must be clear that their role is not that of an inspector. It is right to ask questions, of course, at appropriate times, but visits should be viewed as an opportunity for getting alongside the headteacher, staff and pupils as well as an opportunity to fulfil the governor’s role in monitoring.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO GOVERNORS NEED?
Governors do not need any formal qualifications and are not expected to be experts in everything. Governing any school will, though, involve a considerable commitment. The list of responsibilities can appear daunting but they are shared by the whole governing body. Therefore, each governor needs to play his or her part so that a sensible and fair distribution of the work is made. All governors are able to offer something. For example they may have particular skills or have useful knowledge and understanding because of their careers or their experiences in life. Just as important, though, are the skills of being able to listen and offer encouragement and support to staff, pupils, parents and their fellow governors. Every governor’s contribution can make a difference to William Law and the education and experiences that our pupils receive.
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