Five governance principles that matter

Bloggers have recently been writing posts about five things. Old Andrew has listed five of these posts. I thought I’d write one too so here are my five governance things which I think are important for good, effective and ethical governance, governance which should ensure that the children in our schools get the best possible education. 

1. Nolan Principles of Public Life

Governors hold public office. We are responsible for spending public money. Nolan Principles should be the foundation on which we base our governance. This would ensure we govern ethically. 

2. Strategic vs Operational 

It’s imperative that governors understand the difference between strategic and operational and stick to doing the strategic. Focusing on the strategic would mean they do justice to their core responsibilities. It would also mean that the line between school leadership and management isn’t blurred. Thirdly, focusing on the strategic is one of the ways governors can try and ensure their workload remains manageable. 

3. Corporate responsibility

Governing boards are corporate bodies. Governors need to remember that debate and expressing opinions in the boardroom are important and needed but once a decision is made then everyone needs to ensure that they back that decision. 

4. Continued Professional Development 

Every profession expects people to undertake some form of CPD. Governance should be the same. The Board should make it clear that it expects governors to keep up to date and attend relevant CPD courses. Governors, in turn, should be provided opportunities to do so by the Board. Governors sometimes ask, “Can we afford to attend courses?” My reply to that is, “Can we afford not to?” Yes, budgets are tight but be creative. Join with other boards to access training, if your board is a member of NGA then use the weekly bulletin, the magazine and conferences to keep up to date. Join Twitter and Facebook. 

5. Accountability 

As far as governors are concerned, accountability is a two way process. Governors hold the head and the school accountable and are themselves accountable to DfE/EFA/LA, Ofsted, parents and community. In the case of academies the board of directors is also accountable to the Members of the Trust. In the case of multi-academy trusts the board also holds the local governing body accountable. Academy governors also have to abide by Company Law and Charity Law rules. If governors ensure that there are robust accountability systems in place then that would aid good governance. 

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