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The School governor - A Dickens of a handy document

The working relationship between a school's governing body and its senior leadership is crucial. While both parties can have great expectations of each other, they don't always act as if they were mutual friends.

Recognising the need for clarity, the National Governors' Association, the Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association of Head Teachers have agreed and published a set of co-operative principles that should underpin how governors and school leaders work together.

The document covers the main areas of interface: conduct and timing of meetings; distinction between governance and management; how the governing body is supported; the role of the chair; sharing information; training; and school visits. Under each heading is a balanced set of statements defining the responsibilities of each party. For example, under "governance and management", it says heads should expect to be held to account by the governors for the school's performance, but also that they should not be micro-managed or suffer interference in operational matters.

Covering just two sides of A4, the document should prove useful to all governors as a neat summary of rights and responsibilities. It can also help to remove blockages to good working. If, say, you are not getting the data you need to scrutinise performance, you can quote the head the roll of documents such as the school improvement partner or Raise online reports that governing bodies should receive, knowing that this is not a governors' wish list but has been endorsed by the head's own professional association.

For those unlucky enough to experience bad relations, it may not solve all disputes, but it will help many governors to avoid hard times.

'What governing bodies should expect' can be downloaded at www.nga.org.ukgdncedocs.aspx

Stephen Adamson, Vice-chair of the National Governors' Association.

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