Frequently Asked Questions

What are the respective roles of the governing body and the headteacher?

The distinction between governance and management needs to be clearly understood by all those involved, so that governors are not asked to, and do not try to, involve themselves in day to day management.

The governing body carries out its functions with the aim of taking a largely strategic role in the running of the school. This means that governors decide what they want the school to achieve via setting the strategic framework. This includes:

  • setting aims and objectives;
  • setting policies, targets and priorities for achieving the objectives;
  • monitoring and reviewing progress; and
  • reviewing the strategic framework in the light of progress.

The governing body is reliant on the school to provide it with the necessary information in order to undertake this role effectively, and should take advice from the headteacher before making their collective decision. The School Development Plan and post-inspection Action Plan, along with agreed policies, will generally provide the strategic framework.

Working strategically, governors should use any monitoring evidence to review and evaluate progress against any targets set to see whether a policy is working or needs changing.

The governing body must also act as a “critical friend”. A critical friend offers support, constructive advice, and acts as a sounding board for ideas, a second opinion on proposals and help where needed. But a critical friend may also challenge, ask questions, seek information, improve proposals and to arrive at the best solution.

The headteacher is responsible for the:

  • internal organisation;
  • management and control of the school; and
  • for advising on and implementing the governing body’s strategic framework.

In particular, headteachers need:

  • to formulate aims and objectives, policies and targets for the governing body to consider adopting; and
  • to report to the governing body on progress regularly. The law states that this must be carried out at least once every school year, however, we recommend that this takes place at every meeting of the governing body.

As “lead professional” the headteacher is responsible for formulating and implementing the policies, for leading the school towards the set targets and for discharging many responsibilities on the governing body’s behalf, as well as any responsibilities that have been delegated by the governing body.

Headteachers should give the governing body enough information for them to feel confident that delegated responsibilities – and the head’s own responsibilities – have been met. Governing bodies should make sure they get enough information to allow them to check on their school’s achievements and progress, over time and in comparison with similar schools.

Source – Guidance on School Government (Terms of Reference) (Wales) Regulations 2000, NAfW Circular 34/2000