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Improving School Governance: 6 Top Tips for School Leaders

“Governance has never been more critical to the education of our nation’s young people”

Baroness Elizabeth Berridge, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools.

With COVID-19 putting extra pressures on governance and leadership teams, now’s the time to review your governor roles, relationships and look to improve upon your performance.

Here’s 6 top tips to help you make a start:

  1. Be confident in defining what governance is and what it means for your school or trust – different schools work best with different governance structures. Defining exactly what effective governance looks like in your school or trust is crucial for not only ensuring an aligned vision, but to also help streamline your recruitment efforts for future governors.

  2. Be clear about responsibilities – From the get-go, it’s important that every member of your governing board is aware of their responsibilities, how governance authorities are delegated, and who is accountable for what. This is to ensure the success of both educational performance, but also financial and organisational performance.

  3. Have a strong governance strategy in place – Being strategic in governance means setting the organisation’s overall strategic framework and priorities, according to the Department for Education’s Governance Handbook (October 2020).

    This should include setting a direction, defining a clear vision and outlining ambitions for current and future pupils. In the case of MAT, this also includes the future direction of the organisation’s growth.

  4. Improve communication – Communication between school governors themselves, but also between the governance board and executive leaders (including Headteachers, CEO or Principal), is key to ensure successful governance, making sure everyone is on the same page, and all the priorities, as defined in your governance strategies, are on track to being addressed.

    Make time for dedicated governance meetings, don’t be afraid to challenge each other and learn from other schools to share best-practice and resources.

  5. Take time to train – A good way to join fellow governors, trustees and clerks, as well as executive leaders, is at governance training events. Not only are these imperative to ensure you’re improving your governance knowledge and skills, but they’re also great for networking and making new connections.

  6. Do it with passion – As with anything, governance is underpinned with passion. Any successful board must ‘be ambitious for all children and young people and infused with passion for education and a commitment to continuous school improvement that enables the best possible outcomes’ - Department for Education's Governance Handbook (October 2020).

You can explore best practice from researchers and sector leaders in our free Governance and Leadership Handbook which can be downloaded by clicking on the image below.

Governance and Leadership Handbook