I have been reading a few posts on governance reviews. While I agree that an external review can be very useful, self reflection is also very important. While thinking about this I came up with few questions which I think trustees/governors should be able to answer. How many of these can you and you colleagues answer? Are there any you would add to the list?
Why should I be led by you?
- If I were to ask a child in your school, what is it like being a pupil in your school what would they say?
- Would the answer given to me by a pupil with special education needs, a pupil premium/EAL child be the same?
- If I asked your head about you what would they say?
- If I asked your clerk about you, what would their response be?
- If I asked staff about their working conditions/well-being what would I find out?
- Do you ask parents for their opinions? Do you know if they would give me the same answer they would give you?
- Do you know what are the strengths and weaknesses of your school?
- What does your website tell me about the board?
Your roles and responsibilities:
- Are you crystal clear about your role and function?
- Do you know what powers you hold and how best to use them?
Have you read your governance document?
- For those of you who govern a school in a multi-academy trust (MAT), do you know what has been delegated to you in the scheme of delegation (SoD)?
- Do you audit what you do, your agendas and meetings against the SoD?
- When was the last time the SoD was reviewed?
- If I were to ask you the object of your charity, what would you tell me?
What is your school’s vision statement?
- Does the work you do go some way in delivering your vision?
- Are all stakeholders aware of the vision and buy into it?
- Do you do a 360 review of the board?
- If I asked governors about your chair what would I hear? Will I get a consistent response or are governors working in groups/cliques?
Your working practices:
- Are you aware of all the laws that apply to you? (Ignorance is not a defence)
- How do you deal with conflicts of interest?
- What are the three major risks in your risk register and how do you plan to mitigate these?
- How do you ensure that finances and other resources are used effectively?
- Do you have someone on the board who can scrutinise and understand financial reports?
- Do you use any benchmarking data?
- How do you ensure your decisions are well informed and evidence based?
- If later events/new information shows that your decision was wrong, how do you go about rectifying your error?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of your board?
- Would your minutes show me that you challenge the school leadership?
Do you have access to and understand pupil performance data?
- Do you triangulate information you get from the head and their teams? How do you do that?
- If the board has concerns, then how do governors address them?
- What drives your agendas?
- Are they aligned with your school development plan (SDP)?
- How do you monitor the SDP?
- Do all governors come well prepared to the meetings?
- Do your meetings generally run to time and do you use the time effectively?
- How do you ensure that the appraisal process is fair, transparent and feeds into school improvement?
- How may governors access training on a regular basis?
- How do governors keep up to date with legislative changes, new policies and initiatives?
- What are you doing to ensure your school is sustainable in the long run?
- Do you have a plan to deal with any vacancies on the board which any arise in the future?
- Is there a succession plan in place for the chair and vice chair of the board?
- Are you aware of any plans your head may have of moving on/retiring?
- Have you made any plans to deal with the above?
- Do you have plans to revisit your vision and see if it remains ft for purpose?
- When did you last do a skills audit?
- Do you regularly review of your governance/committee structure?
Do you have any plans to collaborate with other boards?