How Does The Governing Body Work?
A) Constitution of the Governing Body
Extracts from Chapter 2 of the Guide to the Law for School Governors – January 2010 edition:
INSTRUMENT OF GOVERNMENT
- The instrument of government is the document that records the name of the school and the constitution of its governing body. The governing body drafts the instrument and submits it to the LA. The LA must check if the draft instrument complies with the statutory requirements, including the relevant guiding principles for the constitution of governing bodies. If the instrument complies with the legal requirements, the LA will make the instrument. The governing body and LA can review and change the instrument at any time.
- Before the governing body submits the draft instrument to the LA, it has to be approved by the foundation governors and, where relevant, any trustees and/or the appropriate religious body.
PROPORTION OF GOVERNOR PLACES BY CATEGORY AND TYPE OF SCHOOL
- This table shows the proportion of places that should be allocated to a governing body.
B) Governing Body Powers, Duties And Procedures
Extracts from Chapter 3 of the Guide to the Law for School Governors – January 2010 edition:
POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE GOVERNING BODY
- Parliament has given a range of duties and powers to governing bodies under the Education Acts. Later chapters of this Guide explain governing bodies’ powers and duties in more detail, but at maintained schools the governing body has general responsibility for the conduct of the school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement (see Section 21 of the Education Act 2002).
- Governors should act at all times with honesty and integrity and be ready to explain their actions and decisions to staff, pupils, parents and anyone with a legitimate interest in the school.
GOVERNING BODY PROCEDURES
- The School Governance (Procedures) (England) Regulations 2003 (as amended) (the “Procedures Regulations”) cover the procedures that governing bodies are required to follow.
RIGHT TO ATTEND GOVERNING BODY MEETINGS
- Governors, associate members, the headteacher and the clerk have the right to attend governing body meetings. In addition, the governing body can allow any other person to attend its meetings. Associate members may be excluded from any part of a meeting when the item of business concerns an individual pupil or member of staff.
CONVENING GOVERNING BODY MEETINGS
- The governing body is best placed to decide how often and for how long it needs to meet in order to perform its functions effectively. However, each governing body must hold at least three meetings per school year. Many governing bodies meet more often and this is for the governing body to decide.
- Meetings are convened by the clerk, who takes directions from the governing body and the chair. Any three members of the governing body can request a governing body meeting by giving written notice to the clerk that summarises the business to be conducted. The clerk must convene a meeting as soon as is practicable.
- The clerk must give each governor, associate member and the headteacher (if not a governor) written notice of a meeting, a copy of the agenda and any papers to be considered at the meeting at least seven days before the meeting. If the chair considers that there are matters that demand urgent consideration, he or she can determine a shorter period of notice, but the period of notice must be at least seven days if matters to be considered include the removal of the chair, the suspension of any governor, changing the school’s name or a proposal to close the school.
QUORUM FOR GOVERNING BODY MEETINGS
- The quorum for any governing body meeting and vote must be one half (rounded up to a whole number) of the complete membership of the governing body, excluding vacancies. For example, if the full membership is 15 and there are three vacancies, then the quorum for a governing body meeting is six governors (one half of 12).
- Every question to be decided at a governing body meeting must be determined by a majority of votes of those governors present and voting. If there is an equal number of votes, the chair (or the person acting as chair provided that they are a governor) has a second, or casting vote. A unanimous vote in favour of the proposal of the full membership of the governing body is required to change the name of a school. If a
- governor is unable to be present at the meeting where a vote to change a school name is to be taken the governor can vote by proxy. The proxy must be a governor or associate member whose appointment as a proxy is in writing and signed by the governor unable to attend. This is the only occasion where a proxy vote can be accepted.
- Any decision to close the school will not have effect unless it is confirmed by a governing body meeting held not less than 28 days after the meeting at which the decision was made. The item has to be an agenda item and seven days’ notice has to be given.
MINUTES AND PAPERS
- The clerk must ensure that minutes are drawn up, approved by the governing body and are signed by the chair at the next meeting.
- Regulation 13 of the Procedures Regulations provides that the governing body must make available for inspection, to any interested person, a copy of the agenda, signed minutes and reports or papers considered at the meeting as soon as is reasonably practical. Information relating to a named person or any other matter that the governing body considers confidential does not have to be made available for inspection. Since January 2005 the governing body is obliged to make this information available upon request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, unless any other of the specific exemptions in that Act apply. Therefore, the governing body will only be able to withhold information that constitutes personal data or confidential information, in each case, within the meaning of the Freedom of Information Act (see guidance available on GovernorNet).