|Roles and Responsibilities|
The Roles and Responsibilities of the School Governors
St Thomas Aquinas School has a Governing Body made up of 20 members. 11 are Foundation Governors made up of parents of current or past pupils plus Fr Stefan, who is also the School Chaplain. The Foundation Governors are appointed by the Diocese. There are 3 Staff Governors nominated and elected by the staff. There are 3 Parent Governors who are nominated and elected by the parents plus 2 members who are Community Governors appointed by the Local Authority. Mr Foley, as Headteacher is also a governor. Meetings are also attended by the Deputy Heads, Mrs Jones and Mrs Kelly. Although they attend the meetings, these members of the Senior Leadership Team are not eligible to vote.
The Governing Body meets as a whole three times per year - once each term - plus any additional â€˜extraordinary' meetings and training days as and when they are required, for example to approve a new policy due to new legislation or to discuss an Ofsted inspection report.
The Governing Body's primary role is to oversee the management of the school. They must check that the aims and objectives of the school are being carried out, discuss and approve proposals for various policies, check that the budgets and spending plans are all correct, highlight any areas of concern and offer advice and suggestions.
Governing Body Committees
There are three main committees and Governors are required to sit on at least one of these. Terms of Reference for each of the three committees plus the main Governing Body are reviewed and approved each academic year. Each of the committees meets three times per year - once each term.
Finance and Premises
Funding is received annually from the Local Authority and this committee meets to discuss and approve the budget plan and to check as the year progresses that funds are being spent correctly. They prioritise projects that have been identified by the school such as replacing ICT equipment, refurbishment of classrooms, upgrading the boilers and heating system etc. Recommendations, where necessary, are taken to the full Governing Body for approval.
Curriculum and Personnel
This committee looks at the curriculum element of the School Improvement Plan and the School's Curriculum statement and reviews both on a regular basis taking any recommendations to the full Governing Body for approval. They ensure that the timetable offers equal opportunities for all pupils, including those with Special Educational Needs and monitors targets and performance levels.
The committee also looks at staffing numbers and the procedures for filling vacancies when they arise, induction of newly qualified teachers and any requests for leave, secondment and retirement. They may deal with any staff disciplinary issues and also educational visits for pupils.
Other committees and activities
As a Catholic Voluntary Aided school, it is the Governing Body, rather than the Local Authority who is responsible for the employment of staff. It is also responsible for pupil admissions both for the Year 6-7 transition and in-year admissions to all year groups.
In addition to the three main committees who meet regularly, smaller committees made up of 2-3 governors who have an interest in one or more of these aspects of the school, meet as and when required to deal with job interviews, issues on staff performance management, staff discipline and appeals, pupil admissions and appeals and pupil discipline and exclusions. The school and Governors do not work alone on these areas and receive regular guidance and support from both the Diocesan Schools Commission and the Local Authority.
The Governors are invited to get as involved in school life as they can but a lot depends on how much time they have available given their work and other commitments. Individual Governors are invited to volunteer to be linked to a particular year group or faculty which involves them coming into school and meeting with the teachers, getting to know the children through attending assemblies, Masses and supporting them in any way they can. Through meeting 2 or 3 times a year with the head of year/head of faculty they can get a really good idea of how it all works and offer advice and suggestions if required.
The Governors are invited to attend the Governors' Awards Evening in late March/early April. This is an annual opportunity for the school to showcase its many achievements over the last 12 months. The Governors meet for an informal reception prior to the main event and even get front row seats!
Being a governor is an enormously challenging but very rewarding opportunity. All types of people can become school governors and no special qualifications are required. There is the opportunity to develop new skills and strengthen existing ones through working with people from a variety of social, cultural and religious backgrounds. By being a governor, you have the chance to increase your understanding of areas such as finance, personnel, and strategic planning, gain a greater awareness of the education system as a whole and, most importantly, get a huge sense of satisfaction through knowing the children benefit from your efforts.