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New roles by company rules

NEW rules to clarify the sometimes-fraught relationship between headteachers and their governing bodies were sent to schools this week.

After complaints from some heads about interference from governors and, with performance-related pay imminent, the Government has set out the legal responsibilities of both parties.

Governing bodies are told to act as a "critical friend" to heads. In a role akin to that of a company's board of directors, they will be expected to take a strategic overview of the work of the school - leaving heads free to play the role of chief executive.

The only new duty on governing bodies relates to performance pay. They will be expected to establish a written performance management policy for their school and to consult all teachers every year. However, they can ask the head to carry out the consultation on their behalf and the head has a duty to draft the policy at the governors' request.

The clarification of roles is likely to be welcomed by both headteachers' and governors' organisations, although both will have concerns over the phrase "critical friend". Heads' organisations fear that it may encourage some governors to be more confrontational.

Under the guidance, governors will be expected to set the schools' aims and objectives, agree policies, targets and priorities and to monitor whether the school is achieving its aims. But they will also be encouraged to delegate to the head responsibility for issues, such as the appointment of staff and the monitoring of monthly spending. Governors will remain accountable for all its responsibilities and, as before, can direct the head on how it wishes them to be carried out.

The internal organisation, manaement and control of the school remains the head's responsibility and the guidance makes it clear that governors have no power to direct headteachers in matters for which the head is legally responsible.

A checklist of 81 tasks gives advice to schools on the level at which different types of decisions should be taken. There are four categories: decisions made by the governing body; decisions made by the governing body with advice from the head; decisions delegated to the head; and decisions made by the head.

Apart from issues relating to the governing body itself or the head's employment, only decisions concerning the reinstatement of excluded pupils and

religious education in church schools should be taken by the governing body without reference to the headteacher.

The guidance also requires

governing bodies to explain its actions to anyone with a "legitimate interest", including parents, pupils, the press, education authorities and the Department for Education and Employment.

The full text of the regulations can be obtained from For further information call the DFEE School Government Team 020 7925 5791


Governors are responsible for:

* Setting the strategic framework for the school

* Its aims and objectives

* Policies and targets for achieving the objectives

* Reviewing progress

* Being a 'critical friend' to the head

Heads are responsible for:

* Internal organisation

* Management and control of the school

* Advising on and implementing the strategic framework

* Reporting on progress

* Advising the governing body

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