Governing bodies are the strategic leaders of our schools and have a vital role to play in making sure every child gets the best possible education. The purpose of governing bodies is to ‘conduct the school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement at the school’.
The Governing Body comprises a group of volunteers made up of parents, representatives of the Diocese, our local community and the Local Authority working together with the Headteacher and Deputy Head. The role of the governors is to act as a ‘critical friend’ to the school, to support, challenge, monitor and evaluate all aspects of school life with the Headteacher through visits, surveys, reports, attendance at school events etc. We have a healthy exchange of ideas and discussions in support of the school. The Headteacher is responsible for the day to day running of the school with the support of her Senior Management Team (SMT).
In all types of schools, governing bodies should have a strong focus on these core functions:
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction for the school
- Holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
The role of the governors includes:
- setting the school’s aims and policies
- improving standards of teaching and achievement
- setting the school’s budget plan and monitoring expenditure
- interviewing and appointing teachers and support staff
- acting as a link between the local community and the school
- dealing with complaints about the school
- drawing up an action plan after an inspection, and monitoring the success of the plan
- preparing an annual report which is discussed at an annual meeting with all parents of the school.
Types of school governors:
An effective governing body is a source of tremendous strength for the school and helps its leaders cope with major issues and handle change.
Governing bodies do not inspect the school, have involvement in the day-to-day running of the school, authorise all expenditure, decide which pupils will be admitted to the school, decide how pupils are taught individual subjects.
Governors do not have powers as individuals. Any powers and legal rights are with the governing body as a group.
Responsibility for the admission of pupils to Catholic maintained schools rests with the governing body of each school.
The governing body determines and publishes an admissions policy each year, which is included in the school prospectus. Where there are more applications than places available, the policy must state how the places are to be allocated. Parents should read the admissions policy carefully. It will vary from school to school, and from year to year.
The Bishops expect all Catholic schools to give first priority to Catholic applicants. Catholic schools exist to assist parents in handing on the Catholic faith to their children. So where there are insufficient places in an area for all Catholics, governing bodies will normally give priority to children from practising Catholic families (subject to any further criteria a school may have).Where schools do so, they should use, as evidence of practice, the Brentwood Diocese Priest’s Reference Form, available from the school to which you are applying (Part B). Please note, however, that a supportive reference from a priest is no guarantee of a place in any particular school.
This reference form is intended to give all priests a framework in which they can let schools know whether an applicant for a place at a Catholic school is from a practising Catholic family.
Where a school is over-subscribed with Catholic applicants, all of whom have provided evidence of Catholic practice, the governing body will apply other criteria such as proximity to the school, or whether there is an older sister or brother attending the school at the same time. These factors are likely to be crucial in deciding how places are to be allocated.
These points will be explained in detail in the school prospectus.