The School Governor - Clear division of responsibility

21st November 2008 at 00:00

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.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today