Appleshaw St Peter's

Church of England Primary School

Thematic Review of Governance

The Local Authority has recently undertaken a School Thematic Review of Governance covering 10 schools which looked at governance arrangements and reporting processes to ensure that effective decision making takes place. We have been asked to share with you the outcomes from the review and flag up a number of development issues which might inform practice at other schools.

All the governing bodies were constituted in line with the most recent Constitution Regulations and had appropriate committee structures in place that enabled them to monitor the work of their schools. This included having a cycle of business in place for their committees which informed their work.

Generally they had formal governor selection and recruitment processes in place and new governors received appropriate induction training.

Meetings were held on a regular basis and met the appropriate quorum requirements. Accurate minutes were produced for these meetings which were agreed by governors and distributed to all relevant parties.

Financial schemes of delegation were in place and Schools Financial Value Standard (SFVS) returns were either submitted or in the process of being completed.

The areas identified where, in some instances, practice and procedure needed to be improved are detailed below.

·         Terms of reference (TORs) must be reviewed and approved annually by the governing body, with a clear record in the minutes that these actions have been undertaken.

·         The TORs should include the quorum for the committee, a record that they have been approved by the governing body and the date of the meeting that this happened.

·         Governing bodies must appoint a clerk for each of its committees, who should be able to produce minutes that fully reflect the work the committee has undertaken.

·         Governing bodies must have a register of business and pecuniary interests which includes a return for all governors, including ‘Nil’ returns where applicable, and it must be updated annually.

·         Governor’s relevant business and pecuniary interests must be published

on-line along with the other governance information required by the Constitution Statutory Guidance (page 10, sections 25 – 27).

There is further guidance and a template for recording this information on the Governor Services website under Pecuniary Interest in the A – Z index.

·         Declarations of interests should be an agenda item for all governing body and committee meetings. The minutes should record if any interests relating to the agenda items listed have, or have not, been declared.

·         Any delegation of authority by the governing body, including that to the headteacher should be clearly recorded within its scheme of delegation or the relevant TORs.

·         Governing bodies must review the functions they have delegated on an annual basis and record the outcomes in their minutes. This should include the setting of cash limits for spending decisions that can be made by the headteacher and other relevant staff.

·         A detailed report of the SFVS review should be provided to the full governing body and the chair of governors must sign the completed form. The electronic return should be forwarded to the Local Authority by 31 March each year.

·         The approval of the original and revised budgets in the minutes of governing body or committee meetings should include the income, expenditure and balance figures (in both figures and words).

·         When agreeing minutes of previous meetings the date of the meeting should be included for clarity.

·         An accurate record of those present and in attendance at meetings needs to be recorded in the minutes to show that the meeting had a quorum.

·         All paperwork to be considered at a meeting needs to be sent out with the agenda at least 7 days in advance of the meeting.

·         The governing body and its clerk should ensure that copies of its agendas, minutes and any reports considered at its meetings are available for inspection (excluding confidential items) within the school once the minutes have been approved at the next meeting. It would be good practice to include these documents on the school’s website.

·         Skills audits were not always being used to identify training needs.

Governor Services will be doing a follow up in the Spring term to check if governing bodies are meeting the requirements set down in the Constitution statutory guidance, as detailed above, regarding the information that should be on their school’s website.