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Every good head benefits from a sense of direction

The governing body has a key leadership role to play in looking to the future, as Jane Martin reports.

IT is widely accepted that the headteacher, as the leading professional, takes the lead in managing and developing a school. The National College for School Leadership has been established to ensure that heads have the proper training and support to become effective leaders.

The school also has a professional leadership team comprising senior staff - and in larger schools heads of faculty and department have an important role to play. But the governing body also has a role supporting the lead professionals.

The governing body with the headteacher should take a lead in setting the future direction of the school. This means being clear about a vision for the school which reinforces its distinctive character and ethos.

Governors can support the head and the leadership team in making sure the vision is communicated effectively to school staff, pupils and the community, by communicating a consistent message, setting an example, making links with the community and local agencies.

Such support is particularly important when the school is faced with difficult decisions or when new initiatives are being considered. In the strategic role, the governing body is the forum for engaging in a robust dialogue, as part of the leadership of the school, about what future steps should be taken to ensure high standards of pupil achievement.

Governors bring a wide and varied perspective to enrich and enhance the dialogue - which should encourage creative and bold thinking. The leadership role of the governing body is then to make sure that transformational, strategic plans can be implemented effectively.

Governors can particularly help to ensure that parents and the community understand future plans and to gain their support and enthusiasm for future changes where needed.

The governing body, which plays its part in the leadership of the school, will need to be visible and make its mark - having a presence in school and at school events, particularly those involving families and the local community - engaging with the local authority and other agencies.

In many respects, the leadership role will be embodied in the chair of governors in a constructive relationship with the head. But, as with any other governing body activity, it also needs to be a shared responsibility in which all governors act as ambassadors for the school based on shared understanding and agreement.

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