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G is for Golden Thread

They say that a ‘stitch in time, saves nine’ and that is certainly true when it comes to the monitoring role of Governors - one of the core roles.


Governing boards that invest a little time and effort up front into making sure that their monitoring framework is fit for purpose and sighted on the right things; will prevent further work or gaps down the line.


Here at Shaping Governance HQ, I work with lots of schools to improve their monitoring. For me, it’s whole system from vision to reality to impact, and what the school is doing to bring you closer to the vision and in getting the best outcomes for children. Using Shaping Governance, I support and challenge Governors to understand how they can work together to create a governance jigsaw for the school. See D is for Distributed Governance for more on this.


Governors are required to take strategic responsibility for the development and improvement of the school and ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction. Within this core role, Governors should work with senior leaders to set the vision, support leaders to plan what actions are needed to get there, and understand how this will be delivered, monitored, and evaluated. This vision to reality to impact approach - or the Golden Thread as it is also known, is important to get right.


There are many opportunities for Governors to monitor the school and its development plan; whether these be informal or formal. Opportunities include monitoring through meetings, through defined link roles, through visits to school, through attendance at events, and celebrations. Link Roles are a popular way for Governors to develop specialist knowledge; targeting a specific area of the school development plan or subject area. But not everything needs intense monitoring, some may be light touch, and it is important for your board to use a variety of opportunities to see the school in action, and speak to pupils.


In my usual style, here’s my key tips for an effective monitoring system.


From vision to reality to impact - the G.O.L.D.E.N Thread


  • Get to know the school; ensure you have a clear vision for now and the future; make sure that is understood and shared by all governors and the school;

  • Organise and agree a monitoring framework. Be like an Onion and adopt monitoring layers; for governors, committees, full board - spreading responsibility;

  • Link governors - a key layer to provide enhanced scrutiny of key school priorities. However you deploy governors; make sure its on important and statutory things;

  • Define roles clearly and decide who monitors which aspect of the school / development plan - ensuring that all governors have a role and are proactive;

  • Evaluation! It’s not just about whether things get done; it’s about the difference that actions make. Adopt the ‘so what? approach, and ensure you know the impact;

  • Notice, note and share! Use every opportunity when in school to monitor, it could be a link visit or to see an event - make sure you notice, note and share with your team


About Shaping Governance


Shaping Governance is an award-winning governance improvement tool, that is used by 100s of schools annually to improve their governance. Cited as a key driver for governance improvement within Ofsted reports, Shaping Governance helps governors to learn and benchmark their governance against good practice.


If you want to know more, give Su a shout or take a look at the website www.shapinggovernance.co.uk