The working relationship between a school's governing body and its senior leadership team is crucial, but while both parties can have great expectations of each other, they don't always act as if they are mutual friends.
In recognition of the need for clarity the National Governors' Association and the two heads' associations - the Association of School and College Leaders and the National Association for Head Teachers - have published a set of co-operative principles that should underpin how governors and school leaders work together.
The title of the paper says squarely what's in the tin: "What Governing Bodies Should Expect from School Leaders and What School Leaders Should Expect of Governing Bodies". It covers the conduct and timing of meetings; the 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 that heads should expect to be held to account by the governors for the school's performance, but also that they should not be micromanaged.
Covering just two sides of A4, the paper should prove useful to all governors as a neat summary of rights and responsibilities. It can also help remove blockages to good working relationships. If, say, you are not getting the information you need to scrutinise performance, you can quote to the headteacher the documents that governing bodies should receive, such as the Raise online reports, safe in the knowledge that this is not a governors' wishlist but has been endorsed by the head's own professional association. It may not solve all disputes, but it will help many governors avoid hard times.
Stephen Adamson, Vice-chair, National Governors' Association.