Martin Pounce presented on “Governor/Headteacher Partnership – The key to your school’s success” at the NGN Summer Conference in June 2010.
Stephen Adamson introduced Martin Pounce who has written books for governors including “Headteachers and Governing Bodies” and “School Self Evaluation and Inspection”. Martin shared his extensive experience as a teacher, governor and governor trainer to provide plenty of practical advice on how governors and Headteachers can channel their energies more productively.
The partnership between the Headteacher and the governing body is crucial. Martin went through some issues for governing bodies to consider when developing a good partnership with the Headteacher. Day to day detail is the Headteacher’s responsibility, the governing body must look at the big picture. They must know what the significant features are so they can make an impact. There must be mutual respect so that when difficult issues are dealt with there can be a constructive argument. When a decision is agreed both sides should feel they understand why the decision was taken. In this way governors actually help the Headteacher to think through issues and reach collective corporate decisions. An interesting question for a governing body to ask at the end of the school year is “what is the thing that you have done in the past year that has made a difference?”.
Governing bodies can feel overloaded with things that must be done and can get bogged down in ticking off tasks. They must make time to stand back and with the Headteacher prioritorise the things that really matter. “Free up your Headteacher by delegating more things to them”. This is an interesting statement and is worth consideration – governing bodies should review their way of working to ensure that by careful planning the Headteacher is trusted to run the school while the governing body concentrates on strategic issues such as SIDP and monitoring the budget.
Another issue for consideration is communication – governing bodies should share communicating decisions to parents to ensure that parents are aware of the governing body and its role in the running of the school. This could be done through a governor section in school newsletters Governing bodies must be accountable for things done under their guidance.
Work/Life balance is important for everybody involved in a school. Martin pointed governors to the paper on Headteacher Well Being produced by Norfolk County Council. It is important that Headteachers have leisure interests outside their work. Someone on the governing body needs to be a listening ear to be aware of how the Headteacher is coping and make sure they are aware of where to get help and support if it is needed. How can the governing body be responsible for putting pressure on the Headteacher? Make sure that meetings are not allowed to go on and on – this becomes counterproductive. If issues are taking too long they should be stopped and a different way for dealing with them should be arranged.
Another consideration is the number of committees which the Headteacher probably attends. Some governing bodies have reduced these to two committees one for resources and another for performance/standards/curriculum/parents/pupils. This may be worth looking at.
To sum up, make the governing body a valuable resource to focus on things that will make a difference. Look at the balance so that the governing body can support the Headteacher and reduce the pressure directed at them by taking responsibility for decisions that are their domain.
Question: the OFSTED inspection regime can put substantial pressure on the Headteacher and staff.
Answer: If done properly this should be a positive event – the governing body should be ready to give evidence to show how it has supported and challenged the Headteacher.
Martin Sale thanked Martin for giving governors a great deal to think about on what is an important subject.