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A governor's life

There are about 370,000 governors in England and Wales. One in ten positions is vacant. Boards in most state, non-faith schools, consist of the head, staff members elected by their school peers, elected parents and members co-opted for a particular expertise.

Included in their responsibilities are:

* The overall strategic vision of the school. They are expected to act as a critical friend of senior management.

* The purse strings. All decisions regarding school finances have to be agreed by the board.

* The performance management of headteachers, with the close involvement of a professional adviser. The head carries out all other performance reviews.

Governors can over-rule the head's decision on individual pay increases, but only with sound, transparent reasons. Governors have no role in the professional monitoring of teachers - they need only know that such monitoring is taking place.

* Ensuring that in all its activities the school fulfils its legal duties.

* Setting academic targets and monitoring progress made.

* A role in disciplinary procedures, for both staff and pupils, including the first appeal.

* All governors have the same voting rights. They do not have to act solely for their constituency, but for what they see as the good of the whole school community.

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