Make self-evaluation your friend
The best way to do it is for the governing body and the headteacher to conduct the self-evaluation together and complete the form jointly. More frequently the head completes the form and passes it to the governing body for "signing off". But just rubber stamping it is a waste of time.
The SEF's value lies not so much in the finished article but in the process of evaluating your school. In fact, even though it is Ofsted's baby, you do not actually have to complete the form, providing you can demonstrate that the school scrutinises itself thoroughly.
The third of the SEF's three parts - a checklist of statutory policies - is natural governing body territory. However, the exciting and important bit is when you leave your comfort zone and tackle Part A. This examines such things as achievements and standards in the school and the quality of provision. Its various sections might easily be divided among your committees, or the governing body could form special groups to look at them all.
Think hard about the question at the end of each section - the one that asks what your priorities are for development in the area just covered, based on your assessment of the school. Challenge the judgments made and drill down into the analysis on which those judgments are based. Even if you agree 100 per cent with the answers given, this will get you thinking about what the school is really about.
You can see the SEF as a chore or a friend. If a friend, it will help you concentrate on what the governing body should be doing and will link up with your school's improvement plan. Befriend it; you might even find you enjoy its company.
Stephen Adamson, Vice-chairman, National Governors' Association.