'Unblurring' strategic and operational lines

Updated: Nov 22, 2018

Make Your School Governors more Effective - Sort Your Agenda Out!!

The line between a governor’s strategic role and a headteacher’s operational role sometimes become blurred.

There is little guidance about how governors can be strategic, and how boards tackle this is different across the country.

So, I was delighted, when I was asked by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) to work with them and design a conference for Cheshire Colleagues. Tomorrow I’m excited to finally be running the first Shaping Strategic Governance Session, about the Strategic Role that Governors have, and how to steer clear of operational matters.

Designing the course content got me thinking, and led me to develop a ‘Think-list’ for Governors and Headteachers, designed to help them to get the best out of their governing relationship.

Being S.T.R.A.T.E.G.I.C, covers nine essential areas for making this shift to becoming more strategic, and provides ideas and opportunities for both Governors and Headteachers to embed some of this back at school.

However, so I can help as many schools as possible…,

I will be writing a series of blogs to explore some of the elements of my S.T.R.A.T.E.G.I.C Think-list, helping Governors understand how to get the best from their role, their Governing Board and the best for their pupils.

So, S is for Sort your agenda out!

Might sound a simple thing to do, but Governing Board agendas have become cluttered over time, with governors feeling the need to talk about everything most of the time; trying to keep many plates spinning.

So how can Governing Board agendas be sorted to help them to be strategic?

During November, we will explore four tips for doing this - starting with:

Where’s the passion?

Why do most agenda start with the usual ‘business and admin’ such as minutes and matters arising?

I absolutely understand the need for accountability and for all governors to approve the minutes, however it can sometimes be at least 20 minutes (or 30, or 40) before you move onto the focus for the meeting, which can them become rushed and unfocused.

Starting with what’s important to the school can enthuse governors, helping them to stay focused and energised throughout the meeting.

Reminding yourself why you are governing - putting the child at the centre of everything that you do is a really good idea and focuses the mind.

I work with a school, where governors have the vision and values at the top of all their agenda. Seeing this at every meeting is a constant reminder of what’s important to them and helps to focus their discussions.

This will also help Governing Boards to ensure that everything that they do fits with the vision and values of the school - monitoring impact - a key role for governors.

Starting your Governing Board meeting with the most important item, or something that reminds you why you are there, is for me, really important.

Next time we’ll explore - streamlining in more detail