All maintained schools must be constituted under the 2012 Constitution Regulations. It is good practice for governing boards to regularly review their effectiveness, including the extent to which their size and structure is fit for purpose and their members have the necessary skills.
Section 20 of the Education Act 2002 requires all maintained schools to have an Instrument of Government. This is a legal document for Local Authority schools that records the constitution of the governing board and the term of office for each category of governor as well as the name of the school.
Reviewing an Instrument of Government
These are the important things to remember when reviewing the governing board constitution:
Minimum Requirements for all schools - the governing board must not be smaller than 7 members (there is no upper limit), and all governing boards of maintained schools must include the following:
- Parent Governors - at least 2
- Headteacher - unless the headteacher resigns as a governor
- Staff Governor - one staff governor in addition to the headteacher
- Local Authority Governor - one, and only one
Co-opted Governors - in addition, the governing board can appoint as many additional co-opted governors as they consider necessary - as long as staff governors, including the headteacher, do not exceed one-third of the total membership of the governing board.
Additional Requirements for Foundation and Voluntary Schools - in addition to the above requirements, foundation and voluntary schools are required to have partnership or foundation governors - nominated by the appropriate religious body where the school has a religious character:
- Foundation and Foundation Special Schools with no foundation - at least two (but no more than one quarter of the total) partnership governors
- Foundation or Foundation Special Schools with a foundation - at least two (but no more than 45% of the total) foundation governors
- Qualifying Foundation Schools - overall control of the governing body, majority of up to 2 foundation governors over all other categories of governor
- Voluntary Controlled Schools - at least two (but no more than a quarter of the total) foundation governors
- Voluntary Aided Schools - overall control of the governing body, majority of 2 foundation governors over all other categories of governor
The governing board can appoint associate members, because of the specific expertise and experience they bring, to serve on one ore more committees - but these are not governors and are not recorded on the Instrument of Government. They may attend full governing board meetings, but cannot have a vote in governing board decisions. However, they may be given a vote on decisions made by committees to which they are appointed.
Schools Considering Reconstitution of the Governing Board
Schools Considering Reconstitution of the Governing Board should take a look at the following guidance:
When the term of office ends, LA Governors can either request to continue in post or resign. To continue, complete complete the three forms below and send them to LAgovernance@essex.gov.uk. However to resign, whether this be an early resignation or when the term of office has ended, simply inform the team via the email above.
It is very important that schools establish well planned, effective procedures and systems for handover to a new headteacher. This toolkit is offered to school governors as an example of good practice to ensure the smooth transition from one headteacher to another.
The governing body's role in managing a smooth transition is crucial. The aim of this toolkit is to ensure that the new headteacher rapidly learns about the key documents (including financial accounts), policies and procedures of their new school and has all the necessary information required in order to fulfil their responsibilities effectively.
1. The outgoing headteacher should ensure that all the information contained in these handover procedures are up to date, accurate and completed before the leaving date. This should be in collaboration with the Chair of Governors. The information should be organised so that it is easily accessible.
2. There should be a formal handover meeting, ideally convened by the Chair. This should take place at a mutually agreed time, before the departure of the outgoing headteacher and prior to the new headteacher taking up post. The School's Effectiveness Partner will support the school in this process, if required.
3. At this meeting, the incoming headteacher should ensure that the checklist is complete and documents identified. If there is anything missing or incomplete, then this should be rectified before the outgoing headteacher leaves. The Chair should ensure that this is done.
4. A copy of the checklist should be retained by the school and a copy given to the Chair of Governors.
Possible Adjustments to the Process
1. It is recommended that this toolkit is used to support an interim/acting headteacher. It should also be used even if the incoming headteacher is the current deputy in the school.
2. If a headteacher is absent from the school for a sustained period of time, possibly as a result of long term sick leave, and this then results in a change of leadership, the Chair, together with the Senior Leadership Team, should draw together the required information.
3. Some governing bodies may well decide to choose to lengthen the period of handover and there may well be a sequence of handover meetings. The benefit of this approach is to give a good amount of time allocated to each significant element/theme.