All Milton Keynes Education Trust (MKET) schools will have their own Local Governing Body (LGB) which is in effect a committee of the Board of Directors and as such is accountable to the Trust.
The school is accountable to its LGB, which in turn is accountable to parents and the community. A Local Governing Body has elected parent and staff representatives and the Trust appoints additional governors. The Trust uses these posts to cover skills gaps in the LGB, hence these posts are often filled by people from the business or not for profit community.
LGBs make decisions which are in the best interests of the children and young people at the school. Keeping the decision making as close as possible to those that are affected by the decisions makes for sound and efficient leadership and governance. Fulfilling the role of a school governor is, therefore, both a serious undertaking and enormously rewarding. Not only do governors bring their own knowledge and skills to the role, but, in learning how schools are run, they often develop their understanding of leadership. The majority of employers appreciate this and are supportive of their staff taking on the responsibility. In addition, contributing to the growth and development of a school and seeing tangible improvements in the attainment and well being of the children is a satisfying and important contribution to the local community.
The Local Governing Body is responsible for the conduct of its school, and must promote high standards of educational achievement at the school. It is the school’s accountable body and as such:
- within MKET’s overall aims and policy framework, the LGB provides a strategic view of the school by establishing a vision and setting the school’s purpose and aims. It has a leading role in appointing the headteacher and performance manages the headteacher, agreeing the school improvement strategy which includes setting targets with supporting budgets and staffing structures;
- monitors and evaluates the work of the school by reviewing the performance of the headteacher, the effectiveness of the day-to-day policy framework, progress towards targets, and the effectiveness of the school improvement strategy;
- signs off the self evaluation process for submission to the Board of Directors and responds to school improvement and Ofsted reports as necessary. In addition it holds the headteacher to account for the performance of the school and ensures that parents are involved, consulted and informed as appropriate, with information to the community being made available as required.
The day-to-day leadership and management of the school is the sole responsibility of the headteacher supported by the Senior Leadership team.
In order to do this, governors need to gain knowledge of how their school operates through training, by attending meetings, and by getting to know their school community, for example through a small number of visits to the school during the school day.
Governors need to work together as a team, under the leadership of the Chair of the governing body. Governors are required to sign and adhere to a code of conduct.
LGBs are required to meet formally a minimum of three times a year, i.e. once a term. Meeting dates are usually set well in advance and meetings generally last between two and three hours. Governors are expected to be well prepared for these meetings and attendance is expected, with apologies only for good reasons.
In addition to full governing body meetings there are two committees:
- Learning, Teaching and Student Welfare, and
- Resources, Finance and Facilities
Committees and/or working parties and task groups meet between the governing body meetings. Governors will be expected to play a full role in all aspects of governance by volunteering to fulfil specific roles, such as being the Special Educational Needs governor, or the Health and Safety governor, or the link governor for a particular year or subject. Most governors arrange a couple of day or half day visits to the school focusing on key priorities so that they can see how the school is addressing issues identified for development. In addition, informal visits to special events such as drama productions, sports day and Open Morning are encouraged.
Governors do not need specific skills, but many of the tasks they are required to undertake can benefit from general business knowledge such as understanding management systems, budget planning and HR functions.
MKET will ensure that training for governors is available (which may include online learning) to ensure that governors are properly inducted to their role and trained for specific tasks such as appointing the headteacher and then carrying out the headteacher’s performance review.
Each governing body will have a clerk who both advises and services the governing body. MKET has an expenses’ policy which covers out of pocket costs that including those incurred caring for dependents. Loss of earnings is not covered, but employers are required to release employees in order for them to conduct their governor role. Release may, however, be unpaid.