Who's who at a governing board meeting

The chair

The chair and vice chair are elected by the governing board, usually at the summer term meeting for a term of office agreed by the governing board to begin from 1 September.

Most governing boards choose to elect the chair each year, however a chair can be elected for up to four years. Staff governors cannot be elected as chair.

The chair clearly has an important role and to be effective needs the confidence of all of their colleagues.

The vice chair of the governing board acts as chair in the absence of the chair of governors.

Their main tasks are to:

  • Support and encourage new governors
  • Build and maintain an effective team
  • Construct and agree the agenda for meetings, together with the headteacher, and the clerk/governance professional 
  • Plan and keep good order in meetings
  • Ensure governors' participation in, and between, meetings
  • Ensure all decisions are understood and that the necessary action is taken
  • Ensure governors receive relevant information
  • Check that the decisions taken by the governing board are enacted
  • Ensure governors know the rules that keep governing boards democratic are well known and followed
  • Listen and be a critical friend to the headteacher
  • Report decisions of the governing board to parents, staff and others regularly
  • Co-ordinate the governing board role in the Ofsted inspection
  • Monitor the work of the governing board
  • Represent the school in public meetings and parents' meetings

At the meeting, they should ensure that:

  • All items are discussed properly
  • Everyone has an opportunity to speak
  • Decisions are made in a sensible and effective way

The headteacher

The headteacher:

  • Should present a report to the governing board each term
  • May seek governors' advice on certain matters
  • Will generally contribute their expertise in the field of education

As a general rule, the governing board is responsible for some statutory school policies and strategic direction; the headteacher is responsible for the school's day-to-day management and decision-making.

The clerk to the governors/governance professional

High quality professional clerking is crucial to the effective functioning of the board. Clerking is not only about good organisation and administration, but also, and more importantly, about helping the board understand its role, functions and legal duties. This is crucial in helping the board exercise its functions expediently and confidently, so that it can stay focused on its core functions.

The local authority's (LA) role in supporting and advising governing boards is one of major importance. In recognition of this, Salford LA offers a service level agreement (SLA) to governing boards. Under this SLA, governance professionals from the Governor Services Team of Salford City Council provide advice and support to governing boards in a number of different ways:  

Statutory services provided by the Local Authority to maintained schools: 

  • Administering the procedures for changing the Instrument of  
  • The administration and recruitment related to the nomination of Local Authority Governors. 
  • Provision of termly Directors Reports to inform the agenda.
  • Information on governance legislation and statutory duties.
  • Appointment of additional Governors to schools of concern.
  • Support as identified via the Local Authority School Improvement Strategy and Schools Causing Concern policy.

Additional services provided by Governor Services:

  • Clerking service including the preparation and circulation of the meeting agenda and any supporting documents, attendance at the meeting to provide advice around procedures and legislation, accurate minute taking, administrative support and lead on Directors Reports, LA agenda items and other items in relation to governance matters. This support can be provided for Full Governing Board meetings and for Committee Meetings.
  • Governance training, support and development, including unlimited access to a termly training programme, annual subscription to GovernorHub and advice and support on the election of staff and parent governors.
  • Support for Complaints Panels and Pupil Discipline panels can also be provided in addition to the SLA.
  • Support can also be provided for academy governance.

The Governor Services team aim is to provide a high quality, effective and efficient service to governors and governing boards.

Schools who appoint their own clerk to the governing board

The Strategic Director of Children's Services is not the clerk to the governing board in every Salford school. Governing boards of all schools may, if they wish, appoint someone other than the Strategic Director of Children's Services to act as their clerk. However, regulations state that the appointed person must not already be a member of that governing board.

The clerk to the governing board has an important role to play in making sure the governing board's work is well organised (e.g. notice of meetings, agenda, minutes) and should also be able to offer advice and information, particularly on matters involving the law and meetings procedures.

For governing boards appointing their own clerk, the link officer's primary role is one of liaison between the LA and the governing board, and to provide advice on local authority policies and procedures.

Governing boards may also choose to make their own arrangements for the minuting of meetings. This is normally the responsibility of the clerk but may be undertaken by another person who is not a member of the governing board.

This page was last updated on 21 February 2023

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