The School Governor - Clear division of responsibility

Alan Wells

Who does what in your school? Or rather, who is responsible for what? It is probably not such an important question when the going is good. However, when things go wrong, knowing who takes responsibility - not blame, I should add - comes into focus.

The usual answer is that the governors have ultimate responsibility but are strategic, and that the headteacher has day-to-day responsibility and is operational. This answer isn't that helpful, however. For instance, it is unlikely that the governors can determine the strategy of a school without the advice of the head, unless they want to lose him or her.

Knowing who is responsible for what is essential, not least because it is difficult for a head and other senior staff to operate if their responsibilities are unclear.

In our school we have adopted a formal scheme of delegation. This sets out what powers the governing body reserves for itself and what powers it delegates to the head, where the chair's action is possible and where it is not. It also sets out what the full governing body delegates to sub-committees and what the head delegates to other senior staff.

We review the scheme every year, partly because as our head becomes more experienced - this is her first headship - we may want to amend the powers we delegate.

This is not a method of apportioning blame when something goes wrong. However, it does mean that the governing body, head and senior staff know what they can take decisions about and, just as importantly, what they can't.

Alan Wells, Chair of governors at a north-east London primary.

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Alan Wells

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