Questions for new Governors to ask

Author : Al Kingsley @AlKingsley_edu

We all know that when someone is new to school governance it can be a daunting time attending the first few meetings and often the concern is if you can add value from the start.

The truth, of course, is that anyone can add value if only be asking the simple question of Why? Why do we do that, Why are you proposing this change and why have we always done it this way. Hopefully, the answer provided convinces you the reasons are sound,  but it’s a great starting point to understand the workings of the school leadership.

There are plenty more questions that can be useful for anew school governor, and I have compiled a few below as a good starter. The list, of course, is not exhaustive and there will be plenty of other great ideas that could also be included.

Example Questions Governing Bodies / Trustees should ask.

1. Have we completed a skills audit which informs the governing body on which skills we want to add to our team, either via governor appointments or by attending training? Are we as effective as we could be?

2. How well do we understand our roles and responsibilities based on this scheme of delegation?

3. Do we have an experienced clerk who provides policy advice and oversees the governing board’s induction and development needs?

4. Is the size, composition and committee structure of our governing board conducive to effective working?

5. How do we make use of good practice from across the country?

6. Does our chair show strong and effective leadership?

8. Does the chair carry out an annual review of each governor’s contribution to the board/ bodies performance?

9. Does the school / Trust have a clear vision and strategic priorities?

10. Have we agreed a strategy with priorities for achieving our vision with key performance indicators against which we can regularly monitor and review the strategy?

11. Are we properly engaged with our school community, the wider school sector and
the outside world?

12. How well do we listen to, understand and respond to our pupils, parents and staff?

13. What benefit does the school draw from collaboration with other schools and other
sectors, locally and nationally?

14. Do we hold the school leaders to account?

15. How well do we understand the school’s performance data (including in-year progress tracking data) so we can properly hold school leaders to account?

16. Do governors regularly visit the school to get to know it and monitor the implementation of the school strategy?

17. How well does our policy review schedule work and how do we ensure compliance?

18. Do we know how effective performance management of all staff is within the school?

19. Are our financial management systems robust so we can ensure the best value for money?

20. How much has the school improved over the last three years, and what has the governing board’s contribution been to this?

Send me a message if you can think of any other questions to add to the list !

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