Case study 25

The chair of governors visits the headteacher every Monday morning and expects the headteacher to clear her plans for the week with him. He even establishes what he believes to be her priorities. He insists that the headteacher contacts him if she has to go to a meeting out of school and will comment if he thinks the meeting is not as important as doing other things in the school.

You know this because you are friendly with the headteacher outside of the school and she has confided in you. The head is finding the situation very stressful and doesn’t know who to speak to about her concerns.

It would be advisable for the HT to schedule a meeting with the chair to resolve the issue.

The effectiveness of the relationship between the chair and the headteacher is important in establishing a successful partnership between the governing body and the staff of the school.Governor Guide on the Role of the Chair

An effective relationship between the headteacher and chair is based on trust and mutual respect for each other’s roles. This relationship, and frequency of their meetings may differ depending on:

  • personalities;
  • the size and phase of the school;
  • the issues facing the school;
  • the time commitments of both the headteacher and the chair;
  • whether the chair or the headteacher are new to the role;
  • work and other commitments;
  • whether the school is preparing for an inspection;
  • any urgent issues facing the school.

Some chairs and headteachers like to commit to a regular meeting once a week or once a fortnight. Others are happy to meet on an ad hoc basis as the need arises. Chairs and headteachers will also be in regular contact by telephone or email.

The governing body also has a statutory requirement for ensuring that the headteacher has a reasonable workload in support of a reasonable worklife balance, having regard for health and welfare and for providing headteachers with dedicated time that recognises their significant leadership responsibilities for the school.

Limiting unnecessary stress, working a reasonable number of hours and meeting the demands of the role whilst maintaining a personal life produces an effective leader.