At the heart of good governance lie effective relationships. What makes them effective? Perhaps it is a supportive connection that encourages people to use insight and strengths that complement each other in developing the school.
The basis for good relationships is widely accepted: honesty, effort, co-operation, mutual respect, trust, good communication and a shared purpose. So why is this sometimes hard to achieve? Relationships differ in every school, depending on personalities, experiences, school ethos and circumstances. And no relationship can work effectively unless everyone understands each other's values, aspirations and limitations. Perhaps focusing on getting the job done leaves insufficient time for getting to know each other.
Do all the school staff know who the governors are and their roles? Does everyone understand the purpose and benefits of governor visits? Has the governing body and senior leadership team talked honestly about whether the partnership enhances their ability to fulfil their respective roles? Does the head feel supported by the chair of governors? Does the chair feel well informed and confident about what is expected of governors? Such questions stimulate useful self-evaluation for building more effective relationships.
Occasionally, one difficult person causes relationship problems. This calls for prompt action, as the potential for long-term damage is immense. However, relationship difficulties are more likely to result from lack of clarity about respective roles, which poses a barrier to the interaction that allows governors to get a good balance between challenge and support.
Angela Dunkerley, Independent governor trainer.