School leaders and governors: what do we expect?


Guidance updated for 2015

To improve education for children and young people, schools need to be led and governed by people who know their role, work well together and understand what the expectations are from the very beginning.

Today, a multi-agency resource is published to improve the effectiveness of school governance. What Governing Boards Should Expect From School Leaders And What School Leaders Should Expect From Governing Boards is designed to encourage mutual support and respect among school leaders and governors. 

The National Governors’ Association (NGA), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the Local Government Association (LGA) have jointly developed the resource, originally released in 2008, to address the changed role of school governance and the challenges this presents.

Now more than ever school governance is under scrutiny, not only from Ofsted and the Education Funding Agency, but also, and increasingly, the media.  

Some of the expectations this document makes clear are that while governors must have the confidence to have courageous conversations, in turn, school leaders must be willing to be challenged. And while governors must be knowledgeable about the school, including its pupils, staff and community, in turn, school leaders must provide information to them in the appropriate way.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: “In any sector, when an organisation fails, there has been a failure of governance. Therefore, if we wish to prevent any school failing its pupils, we need to ensure that governance is strong. This document, now in its third edition, is the most important resource we have on the topic of roles and responsibilities.

“It’s right that the National Governors’ Association and our partners focus on the relationship between governors and school leaders to ensure that this dynamic works, is productive, and that it allows everyone to direct their efforts towards school improvement. This document reminds us that strong relationships are at the heart of good governance. It clarifies what the expectations are for governors and school leaders in the pursuit of improving the educational standards and well-being of children and young people.”

Russell Hobby, General Secretary of the National Association of Headteachers, said:

“School improvement is both simple and hard. Simple because it’s about good leadership and good teaching. Hard because staying focused over the long term on leadership and teaching amid the tumult and distraction requires almost heroic courage and fortitude. Governors play a huge part in balancing the scales and their role cannot be overstated. The relationship between governors and school leaders needs to be constructive and involve both challenge and support in equal measure.

“Good governors ask difficult questions, expect evidence and demand a great deal. But there is never any doubt about their values and principles; they are part of the leadership team of the school. We hope that this excellent resource will continue to improve and strengthen this relationship in the coming years.”

Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “There has never been a greater need for effective governance at a time when there is so much change in the education system. We know that an effective governing body is an enormously influential factor in the success of a school, and that this is highly dependent on establishing the right relationship between heads and governors. This is why the two headteachers’ associations, the NGA and the LGA have got together to define the way in which this relationship works best, and we hope that heads and governors will find this guidance useful.”

Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People’s Board, said: “Good governance is crucial to any school’s effectiveness and it is an increasingly responsible role. This is a helpful resource in supporting both governors and school leaders to understand and fulfil their respective roles.”

The paper is broken down into four main areas: the respective roles of governance and management, developing and supporting the governing board, effective ways of working, and understanding the school and engaging with stakeholders. 

Download as pdf What Governing Boards Should Expect From School Leaders And What School Leaders Should Expect From Governing Boards

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