Primary governing bodies are for the most part playing an increasingly active role in the work of primary schools, says the chief inspector's annual report. "Most now have committee structures which make effective use of governors' expertise and interests. Most offer a good level of support to headteachers and staff, and are increasingly involved in decision-taking.
"Too few are clear, however, about how to monitor standards or the quality of the curriculum. Legal responsibilities are usually fulfilled, with some technical exceptions generally related to a lack of policies for areas such as equal opportunities.
"Overall, however, the quality and capability of governing bodies varies considerably and many governors remain uneasy about the breadth of responsibilties they carry, particularly in financial areas.
"Many governing bodies are a long way from setting the clear and relevant performance indicators for headteachers which are needed if reliable judgments are to be made about the salary of the headteacher. Governors generally need to be better prepared for this task."
Secondary governing bodies generally fulfil their statutory duties, with the frequent exception of collective worship. Most have effective committee structures with clear working practices and procedures. More governing bodies are aware of their strategic planning role. They are gaining expertise in the curriculum and realising how to monitor planned improvements, set priorities and record pupils' standards of achievement.
But the variable quality of primary governing bodies, the unease of governors about the breadth of responsiblities, and their ability to set clear performance indicators for setting headteachers' pay, also applied to secondary school governors.