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Governance explained in 60 seconds


The title "Governor" covers a diverse range of occupations. There are Governors of national banks, Governors of nation states and, perhaps rather less glamorously, Governors of prisons. How do these roles compare with that of school Governor? Well, we don't frequent many Ambassadorial parties (although we're partial to a Ferrero Rocher - or seven), the dress code is rather more casual and most of us have never stepped foot inside a prison (we're all young once, right?!).

Another key difference is that we don't get paid for the many hours that we dedicate to the role. In fact, school Governors form one of the largest volunteer groups in the UK, with over 250,000 of us being recorded at the last count. Most of us are juggling work and childcare commitments with our governing duties, and some of us may also be parents at the school that we are governing.
Parent Governors, who are elected by the school's parent body, may need to take a moment before entering the school to remember which "hat" they are wearing on that day. Not just so that they know which lanyard to collect from the school office, but also so that they can perform the role with the high level of professionalism and neutrality that it requires. At Stratton Primary School there are also Staff Governors (currently Mrs Boston) and Co-opted/Community Governors (appointed by the Governing Board) and there is a Local Authority Governor too (appointed by the Local Authority).

The Governing Board provides strategic leadership and accountability to the school. It has three main functions:
* Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction for the school.
* Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
* Holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils.

This last function is the one that seems to trigger the most common misconception about Governors, with many parents and carers assuming that we have power and control over day to day operational aspects of school life, e.g. how children are assessed, how homework is set, how communications to parents are managed, the timing of parents' evenings and open sessions and the size and variety of school meals.

These things, and many more besides, are entirely within the realm of the Headteacher, who runs the school with the support of their Senior Leadership Team (senior teachers). A football analogy is often used to highlight this distinction. If our school were "Stratton Primary F.C.", then the Governors are the club owners and Mrs Towler is the team manager. The club owners (Governors) closely monitor the team's (school's) performance, but it is the team manager's (Mrs Towler’s) job to figure out how best to ensure that their little red, white and grey-clad footballers (pupils) play to the very best of their abilities whilst enjoying a happy, stable, fun and rewarding (school) career.

The Governing Board at Stratton CoE Primary School is a very friendly bunch, so do say "hello" if you spot someone wearing a Governor lanyard. We often help out at school events - you may have spotted us selling tea and cake at the Summer Fayre back in July or at some of the wonderful school productions - and we love talking about the school that we work so hard to support. Alternatively, please feel free to email us via the school office with feedback or ideas.