How can school governors help in holding schools to account?

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Background: The accountability system in England (Ofsted, league tables) exerts a “tight grip” on schools. This can focus attention on maximising results rather than on the needs of learners.

Two secondary school governors*, Chris Williamson and Jo Field, believe a good school is more than just high results. Parents want their children to become “confident, well-rounded and employable.”

Governors are essential in holding school leaders to account for the quality of all-round education. But there’s a fine line between offering support and hold school leaders to account and intruding in ways that make it more difficult for school leaders to do their job.

Williamson and Field said school governors should:

1 Work in partnership with school leaders to develop a strategic plan;

2 Analyse regularly-received reports;

3 Ask challenging questions;

4 Monitor all-round performance not just test results;

5 Appoint the head and carry out reviews of the head’s performance;

6 Get an accurate picture of school life by visiting regularly;

7 Act as a “critical friend”;

8 Monitor the “social, moral, spiritual and cultural development” of pupils.

The future will see greater collaboration between schools to raise school improvement.

Chris Williamson and Jo Field are both governors of the Howard of Effingham Secondary School, Leatherhead, Surrey. Their advice was published in the Wellcome Trust report, Effects from accountabilities (2013).

More information about the role of school governors is here.