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Below you will find a list of all our Governors and a brief outline of who they are and their current responsibilities.  The governors come from a diverse background but work together with a common aim – to be a “critical friend” and help support staff, pupils and parents going forward.


Anthony Tierney I am very proud to be the Headteacher of our wonderful school.  I became the Headteacher in September 2015, moving from Curbar Primary School in the Hope Valley where I had been Headteacher for three years.  I am looking forward to leading the school as we build on its strengths and work together to achieve the best outcomes for our children.


Jessica O’Dwyer – Commenced 3 January 2018 I’m a mum of two children at Burbage School. Since having children I’ve enjoyed being involved in whatever stage they are at, so I’ve volunteered at SureStart, ran playgroups and helped out at Pre-School. Since my eldest started at Burbage I’ve been involved with the PTFA. My role as Clerk to Governors is similar to what I used to do for various Local Authorities in the area.

Co-opted/Community Governors

Lisa Edwards –  Joint Chair – Commenced 03 Dec 2012 (Appointed by governing body) I’m now in my eighth year of school governance! I started as a parent Governor and switched to become a co-opted Governor a while ago now, which meant I was able to continue as a Governor after my children left Burbage. Talking of which, I have two boys; the eldest is in year eight at Buxton Community School (BCS) and the youngest transitioned from Burbage to Y7 at BCS this academic year.
Outside of school, I’m an executive leader in the shared services and outsourcing industry, and I’ve been lucky enough to travel to most places around the world through my work. I’m also on the board of a not-for-profit business and work in support of a couple of charities that are very important to me. I am very proudly a ‘local’ – and back in the day, I was actually a pupil here and so I have a really personal affinity with Burbage Primary School.
I’ve been involved in lots of activities through-out my Governor life so far, including amongst other things, being co-chair of Governors, chairing the School Improvement Committee and Resource Management committee, being the Health & Safety and Safeguarding Governor lead, setting the school vision, monitoring school improvement plans and supporting recruitment in school. A key draw to the governor role for me, is having the opportunity to be a positive influence on the school as a whole – and I undertake all of my Governor activities with a real desire to ensure the best possible outcomes for our school, staff and pupils.

Starting September 2019, I’m really looking forward to working with my fellow Governor Emma Moore, who will join me in sharing the role of Chair of Governors going forwards.

Emma Moore – Joint Chair – Commenced 25 Apr 2015  (Appointed by governing body)  Since becoming a governor in 2015, I’ve taken a special interest in the areas of PE, PSHE and Bullying and have recently also taken on the Special Educational Needs and Disadvantaged pupils brief.   I’m a member of the School Improvement and Pay and Performance Committees, as well as being co-chair of the Teaching, Learning and Assessment Committee and one of the two vice-chairs of the Governing Board.

After 7 enjoyable years at Burbage Primary, my son has recently started at Buxton Community School.  My daughter is still at Burbage, currently in year 5.
It’s been fascinating getting to see all the thought, effort, passion and dedication ‘behind the scenes’ at school.  Burbage is quite different from my own primary school, which was huge, inner-city, pretty anonymous and French-speaking!  I am so glad my children have benefited from being part of such a caring community, where it is plain to see that every child matters.
My background is in health and medical communications. In my spare time, the woods are my favourite place to be and I love making and designing – give me a paint pot or some fabric and I’m happy!
Catherine Leighton – Commenced 13 March 2019 (Appointed by governing body)
Pippa Bradbury – Commenced 11 Nov 2016  (Appointed by governing body) 
I am a Teaching Assistant at Burbage Primary School.  I currently support children in Year 3 but have experienced working in all Key Stages of the school.  I have three children who all attended Burbage Primary School, so I have also experienced the school as a parent. In my role as Staff Governor I will be a member of the Resource Management Committee.

Local Authority Governor

Heather Toomey – Commenced 10 Jul 2018 (Nominated by LA and appointed by governing body) 

I was appointed Local Authority governor in July 2018. I started my career in industry, working in IT Management and Security, before spending the last 15 years working for Derbyshire County Council, in schools and referral units. I now specialise in  Data Protection and Management.

I have two sons, now 15 and 17, and I understand the individuality of every child. I volunteer for various charities and have written a book to raise funds and support a national parental support group.

I know first hand how hard it can be to support a child with additional needs and how big the rewards are when staff and parents work together. I want to support Burbage school in offering your child the best start to their education and enable them to enjoy their school life.

Parent Governors

Catherine Pamplin – Commenced 01 Feb 2016 (Elected by parents)
I was elected as a parent governor in February 2016 and joined the Resource Management Committee. I now co-chair that committee and sit on the School Improvement Committee. I am also the named lead governor for Safeguarding and the link governor for the PTFA and for art.
I have a daughter and son at Burbage.
I am a qualified Art Psychotherapist and work in private practice in Buxton and at ‘Riverside Wellbeing’ in Whaley Bridge with people of all ages and abilities. I also work as a Creative Mentor for Derbyshire County Council Virtual School. In the past I worked as a therapist, supervisor and coordinator of a London charity, which offered therapeutic support to children in inner city schools. Prior to that my career was in charities’ administration and logistics – in the UK and in Uganda. I have also worked as a volunteer teacher in the West Indies, and a mentor, teaching assistant and summer school art tutor in London.

Paul Hodge – Vice Chair– Commenced 11 November 2016 (Elected by parents) 
Since being elected as a parent governor in November 2016, I have been assigned to the Resource Management Committee which I now chair along with being one of our full governing body vice-chairs. My wife and I first moved to Buxton in 1998 and after a short spell in North Lancashire from 2001 we moved back in 2005. Our two boys have both been students at the school, with our youngest now being in Year 6. As a family we camp, climb, walk, canoe and generally spend as much time outdoors as possible. I have both teaching and research qualifications but most of my career has been spent in Data Management and People Leadership in the Clinical Trials Industry. I believe Buxton is a wonderful town and Burbage Primary is a fantastic school and I’m proud to be contributing to its development.

John Rothery – Commenced 16 February 2018 (Parent appointed by governing body due to no election candidates)
I became a parent governor to help to make the school as good as it possibly can be for the benefit of all the children at Burbage. Originally from Newcastle we chose Buxton as our home as it such a great place to live and bring up children.
I qualified as a physicist and have worked in most EU countries, the U.S. and China in the Lighting and Electronics industries most recently working as a project manager for large UK infrastructure projects.
I have served on UK government and EU advisory panels and in EU directorates and been responsible for agreeing numerous standards, legislation and codes of practise. I would hope that some of my experience may be of some use to Burbage.
As a parent, I am passionate in my desire to help achieve for all our children the best possible start and foundation for a happy and healthy life ahead.

Will Throssel – Commenced 10 September 2018 (Elected by parents)
I am a parent of two girls at Burbage Primary School; both in Infants.
As a technical project manager I am experienced in managing complex projects, leading teams based in countries around the world and often with competing priorities. A critical aspect of my role is to drive continual improvement and develop innovative solutions.
I became a governor to support the school in helping our children to be the best they can be; both academically, but more importantly as caring and enthusiastic members of our community.

Jonathan Faulkner – Commenced 10 September 2018 (Elected by parents)
I have 3 children at Burbage who really enjoy their time at school and I love hearing about all the stimulating activities they do on a daily basis.
I am Head of Science at All Hallows Catholic College in Macclesfield and have been teaching for over 15 years, so I understand the pressures the school is under on a daily basis.
Hopefully I can bring some of that expertise to my role and support the school to the best of my ability and help the school continue on its upward trajectory.

Julie Kawalek – Commenced 10 February 2020 (Elected by parents)

Helen Goodman – Commenced 10 February 2020 (Elected by parents)

Heidi Bryan – Commenced 10 February 2020 (Elected by parents)

Staff Governor

Lindsay Adams – Commenced 10 February 2020  (Appointed by governing body) 

Recently Resigned

Richard Brown – Commenced 01 Feb 2016 (Elected by parents) I became a parent governor in February 2016, having moved from Manchester to Buxton with my family. I have a daughter in the school and a younger son in a local nursery. As a  registered Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Manchester, I have extensive experience of teaching, leadership and research within higher education, and as a psychological therapist within the NHS. I relish the opportunity to put my skills and experience to good use within the school and local community. I am a member of the Teaching and Learning Committee

Peter Ambrose – Commenced 10 Feb 2016 (Appointed by governing body)  I have a daughter who joined the school in 2014 and a pair of twin girls who may also be pupils of the school soon. I have been co-opted onto the board of governors since February 2016, primarily for my IT skills, having worked in the industry for all of my working life. I am keen that the school can use Technology to its advantage, simplifying the hum-drum activities to let the Staff and Governors concentrate on what really matters, the pupils! I sit on the resources committee as I feel my skills are best used here.


Register of Interests

Details of any relevant business and pecuniary interests held by Governors can be found in the Register of Interests, a summary of which, is available below:

  • Emma Moore – David Moore / Minibus Options. Supplier of school minibuses.
  • Lisa Edwards – Relation is a midday supervisor
  • Pippa Bradbury – Husband runs a local Builders Merchant.
  • All other Governors have no declared interests.

Governor Attendance Figures 2017 – 2018

Anthony Tierney (Head) 4 FGB, 4 RMC, 3 SIC, 3 TLA, 2 P&P (100%)

Yvonne Ebden (LEA) 1 FGB (33%) Resigned 13/12/17

Heather Toomey (LEA) 1 FGB (100%)

Michelle Birch – Joint Chair (Co-opted) 4 FGB, 1 RMC, 3 SIC, 3 TLA, 2 P&P (100%)

Alison Ling (Co-opted) (3 FGB, 3 RMC (86%)

Jon Posnett (Co-opted) 3 FGB, 3TLA (86%) Resigned 11/07/17

Lisa Edwards – Joint Chair (Co-opted) 4 FGB, 3 SIC, 3 RMC (100%)

Peter Ambrose (Co-opted) 4 FGB, 4RMC, 1 P&P (100%)

Carol Taylor (Co-opted) 3 FGB, 3 SIC, 2 TLA (89%) Resigned 03/07/17

Philippa Bradbury (Staff) 3 FGB, 3 RMC (86%)

Emma Moore (Vice Chair) Parent/Co-opted  4 FGB, 3 SIC, 3 TLA, 1 P&P (100%)

Mark Warin (Parent) 3 FGB, 2 TLA (83%) Resigned 03/07/17

Catherine Pamplin (Parent) 4 FGB, 3 SIC, 3 RMC (100%)

Richard Brown (Parent) 4 FGB, 3 TLA (100%)

Paul Hodge (Vice Chair) Parent 3 FGB, 3 RMC, 1 P&P (88%)

Below you will find an outline of the types of Governors we have in our school and the committees we are a part of.

Types of governors at Burbage Primary School

  • Parent governors: selected by election (or appointment if insufficient people stand for election) and drawn from parents and carers of children at the school
  • Staff governors: selected by election from teaching and support staff paid to work at the school
  • Authority governors: appointed by the Local authority
  • Co-opted governors: appointed by the governing body to represent community interests
  • (Other categories of governors include foundation governors, partnership governors, sponsor governors and associated members)

We currently have;

  • 1 Local Authority governor
  • 6 Co-opted governors
  • Headteacher
  • 1 staff governor
  • 6 parent governors

Governors Appointment List

Headteacher: Anthony Tierney

Clerk: Jessica O’Dwyer

Co-opted/Community Governors: Lisa Edwards, Catherine Leighton, Emma Moore, Pippa Bradbury, Catherine Pamplin and Paul Hodge.

Local Authority Governor: Heather Toomey

Parent Governors: Will Throssel, John Rothery, Jonathan Faulkner, Heidi Bryan, Helen Goodman and Julie Kawalek.

Staff Governor: Lindsay Adams

Committee Membership List

Resources Management Committee:  Paul Hodge (Chair), Will Throssell (Vice Chair)  Anthony Tierney, Catherine Leighton, Heather Toomey, Emma Moore and Pippa Bradbury.

Teaching, Learning & Assessment:  John Rothery (Chair), Jonathan Faulkner (Vice Chair), Lisa Edwards, Anthony Tierney, Catherine Pamplin, Lindsay Adams, Heidi Bryan, Helen Goodman and Julie Kawalek.

School Improvement Committee: Anthony Tierney,  Lisa Edwards (Chair), Emma Moore, Paul Hodge and John Rothery.

Sub-committee Membership List

Pay and Performance:  Emma Moore (Chair), Paul Hodge, Lisa Edwards and Jonathan Faulkner (To shadow).

Named Governors

Health and Safety/Grounds/Buildings – Will Throssell

Inclusion (inc pupil premium and more able) – Emma Moore and Lisa Edwards

Safeguarding, Anti-bullying and Previously/Currently Looked After Children – Catherine Pamplin

Curriculum –  Helen Goodman

EYFS – John Rothery

Sports Provision – Jonathan Faulkner

DPO/GDPR – Heather Toomey

SEND – Julie Kawalek

IT – Heather Toomey

Website – Pippa Bradbury

Finance – Paul Hodge

English – Heidi Bryan

Maths – Jonathan Faulkner

Roles and Responsibilities of School Governors

The three core functions of a governing body, as reflected in Ofsted’s inspection criteria are:

  • Setting vision, ethos and strategic direction, engaging stakeholders, and ensuring statutory duties are met:
  • Holding heads to account for teaching, achievement, behaviour and safety: challenging and strengthening leadership: contributing to school self-evaluation
  • Ensuring financial solvency and probity with effective management of financial resources, including the Pupil Premium, to raise standards

They are also responsible for specific actions such as approving the school budget and appointing the headteacher.

School governors are drawn from different parts of the community and can be parents or staff from the LA, the community and other groups. This helps ensure the governing body has sufficient diversity of views and experience but does not mean governors of a particular category represent that group on the governing body:-  i.e. parent governors do not represent the parents at the school and do not report back to them.  Individual governors have no power or right to act on behalf of the governing body except where the whole governing body has delegated a specific function to that individual or where regulations specify a function is to be exercised in a particular way.

Instrument of Government

The Instrument of Government is the document that records the name of the school and the constitution of its governing body. It must be approved by the LA and comply with statutory requirements and principles.

The Instrument of Government at Burbage Primary School consists of:-

  • 1 Local Authority governors
  • 6 Co-opted governors
  • Headteacher
  • 1 staff governor
  • 6 parent governors

Types of governors at Burbage Primary School

  • Parent governors: selected by election (or appointment if insufficient people stand for election) and drawn from parents and carers of children at the school
  • Staff governors: selected by election from teaching and support staff paid to work at the school
  • Authority governors: appointed by the Local authority
  • Co-opted governors: appointed by the governing body to represent community interests
  • (Other categories of governors include foundation governors, partnership governors, sponsor governors and associated members)

The governing body must appoint a chair and vice-chair. Committees must appoint their own chair. Other specific appointments can be made for individual governors to lead on in certain aspects of the school (eg Health & Safety, Safeguarding, Inclusion). Committees at Burbage Primary school are; Teaching, Learning & Assessment Committee (TL&A), Resources Management Committee (RMC), School Improvement Committee (SIC).  Sub-committee;  Pay and Performance Committee (P&P)

Role of the chair and vice-chair           

The role of the chair (and vice chair in the chair’s absence) is extremely varied and can include:-

  • To make sure the governing body’s affairs are conducted in accordance with the law
  • To report any urgent action taken on behalf of the governing body, ensuring it is fully explained and supported. Chairs have no special power to take decisions on behalf of governors unless there has been a resolution of the whole governing body to delegate a specific authority. However, they do have the power to take action if the matter is urgent and if it concerns one of the functions that can be delegated. The Education (School Government)(England) Regulation 1999 Regulation 43 defines ‘urgent’ as a case where delay would be seriously harmful to the school or to any pupil or member of staff, and where it would not be reasonably practicable to hold a governors’ meeting to resolve the issue. Any urgent action the chair or vice-chair takes on behalf of the governing body should be reported at the next meeting
  • To ensure meetings are run effectively – that they start and finish on time, that agenda items are properly introduced, that people are encouraged to contribute and that decisions are taken where necessary and minuted
  • To help the governing body work as a team – by recognising and using people’s strengths, delegating effectively, clarifying objectives and using the whole governing body by creating committees and small groups to develop new ideas, work out plans of action and to cover contentious or difficult areas of planning. Define, with the governing body, a clear understanding of the roles of the chair, vice chair, the other governors and professionals within the school
  • To work with the headteacher- be available to the headteacher, make time to listen to concerns and give constructive advice, talk through disagreements before the governing body meetings, work together on effective school policies
  • To carry out any duties delegated by the governing body, be seen in school regularly, attend school functions or make sure another governor represents them, work with the local authority, be accessible to other governors, staff and parents, meet governors from other schools
  • To use time effectively, their own and other people’s- plan the year’s cycle of meetings and a timetable for action and reports, plan for effective meetings
  • To make it clear that all governors must accept collective responsibility for decisions taken at governors’ meetings

Specific roles within the governing body

Link Governor

The term ‘link governor’ best describes the relationship that a governor has to act as a link between the FGB and a specific subject, e.g. Safeguarding, sports provision, curriculum etc. It is not a statutory requirement, but is good practice. A good working relationship between the subject specialist within the school and the subject link governor will enhance the success of this initiative.

The subject link governor, in support of the subject co-ordinator or head of subject, should:-

  • Be informed about relevant documents and legislation; Ofsted criteria for evaluating the subject provision; local and national issues impacting upon the subject
  • Liaise with the subject co-ordinator or head of subject to become informed about staffing arrangements and training; the condition and availability of resources; curriculum and timetable arrangement; Inclusion provision; reference to the school development plan; assessment and recording procedures for the subject; which visits and visitors are planned
  • Establish and maintain effective lines of communication between the subject co-ordinator and the governing body; report back to FGB meetings
  • Help to keep parents informed via the school prospectus, newsletter and meetings
Numeracy and Literacy governor

Numeracy and literacy governors should have a good knowledge of the ‘National Numeracy and Literacy Strategy’ and help ensure numeracy and literacy issues remain high on the school’s agenda. In addition to the responsibilities of a ‘link governor’ the numeracy and literacy governor should:-

  • Attend some of the in service training courses devoted to maths/literacy
  • Meet termly with the maths/literacy coordinator to discuss how the strategy is progressing within the school
  • Observe the daily maths/literacy lessons throughout the school
  •  Ask about resources allocated to numeracy/literacy from the school budget
  •  Talk to the headteacher about school numeracy/literacy issues
Inclusion governor

Inclusion is now the term given when referring to children with a Special Educational Need, disability or who are Gifted & Talented. A primary role for the inclusion governor is to ensure that children in this category have the help they need to access the curriculum and to participate fully in the life of the school. The inclusion governor is required to report back to the FGB on up-to-date matters within the school and information on provision for pupils. The inclusion governor should also know:-

  • How the school identifies children with a SEN, disability or who are G&T, and what happens once a child has been identified
  • Understanding of IEP’s, assessments and monitoring
  • How funding from the LA is allocated and spent
  • The school’s Inclusion policy
  • Meet regularly with the member of staff responsible for inclusion (previously known as the SENCo)
  • Have knowledge of support services used within the school


  • Attend training courses and in service training on Inclusion
  • Where possible attend Annual reviews
Safeguarding governor

Safeguarding is about protecting children. The governing body has a legal obligation to ensure that the school is run so that the welfare of the children is safeguarded and promoted. The safeguarding governor should:-

  • Be familiar with LA guidance and policy relating to Safeguarding and Child Protection and associated issues
  • To ensure that Governing Body puts in place a suitable Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and associated procedures.
  • To champion safeguarding and child protection issues within the school.
  • To remedy any deficiencies in the school’s safeguarding practices which may be brought to Governors’ attention by a member of school staff, a parent, an officer of the Authority or from any other source.
  • To meet regularly with the senior member of the school’s leadership team who has lead responsibility for Child Protection issues (CPLT), in order to monitor the effectiveness of the governing body’s Safeguarding and Child Protection policy.
  • To ensure that the governing body receives an annual report on the implementation of the school’s safeguarding and child protection policy
Health & Safety governor

The head teacher is responsible for the day to day management of the school’s Health and Safety policy and the communication of its requirements. The governing body has the responsibility to monitor the policy and, if necessary, to require additional actions.  The H&S governor should:-

  • Work with the school health and safety representative to ensure that the school has a health and safety policy and make regular health and safety inspections of the school premises
  • Decide appropriate health and safety procedures and practices to be undertaken by the school and ensure that the school complies with legislation and follows best practice in the management of health and safety
  • Keep the governing body informed of health and safety issues
  • Make sure that adequate health and safety resources are available to meet health and safety requirements
  • Ensure that staff and students are not exposed to unacceptable risks, and that significant risks are adequately controlled

Please find below our annual statement which sets out what we have achieved last year for our school. I have attached the full report and also a summary report which we have sent out to parents.

Just a reminder about pupil premium funding, all infant children now get a free school meal automatically, however your child will only be entitled to this pupil premium funding if you register them with the office (confidentially). All children from low income homes are entitled to this funding and it can really help enhance their learning.

Hope to see you at school events over the next year.

Chair of Governors

The dates for the academic year 2019 – 2020 so far, are:

Full Governing Body – Wed 25th Sept 2019

School Improvement Committee – Fri 11th Oct 2019, 9.40am

Resource Management Committee – Wed 23rd Oct 2019

Teaching, Learning and Assessment Committee – Wed 13th Nov 2019

Pay and Performance Committee  – Fri 15th Nov 2019 at 10am

Full Governing Body – Wed 27th Nov 2019

School Improvement Committee – Wed 24th Jan 2020 at 9.40am

Teaching, Learning and Assessment Committee – Wed 12th Feb 2020

Resource Management Committee – Wed 26th Feb 2020

Resource Management Committee – Wed 11th Mar 2020 6pm (if required)

Full Governing Body  – Wed 11th Mar 2020 (postponed to 18th March)

School Improvement Committee – Wed 8th May 2020 at 9.40am

Pay and Performance Committee  – Fri 22nd May 2020 at 10am

Resource Management Committee – Wed 17th Jun 2020

Teaching, Learning and Assessment Committee – Wed 1st Jul 2020

Full Governing Body – Wed 15th July 2020

All meetings begin at 6.30pm unless otherwise stated.

If you should wish to speak to any of our Governors please contact the school office and they will be happy to put you in touch with the appropriate person.

Telephone – 01298 22278

Email –

We have created a document to explain the process of appointing and electing governors and how we, as a school, make sure our system is fair and transparent.  Please click on the button underneath to read it.

Being a Governor can be a very rewarding and interesting role and can really help to shape your child’s education.  Anyone over 18 can be a school governor – you don’t have to be a parent with a child at our school, however, every governing body includes parent governors, and it can be a rewarding way to be involved.

The most important qualities for being a governor are enthusiasm, commitment and an interest in education. You don’t need teaching experience, but it’s useful to bring skills from other areas of your life. It can also be time-consuming.

If you’re interested in becoming a governor feel free to talk to the Headteacher, the Chair of Governors or another member of the governing body who will all be happy to tell you more about what is involved. When there’s a vacancy for a parent governor all parents will be informed, and you’ll have a chance to stand for election or on certain occasions be appointed to the post without elections.

At the bottom of this page you will find an extract from the governors handbook which outlines what being a governor is all about.  You may also find these links below useful.
This is a link to the Government Website
This is the National Governors Association
Our Local Education Authority Site
Includes the Governor Handbook

And these are some other useful sites:

Handbook of Governors – extracts from first section

1.2 Governing bodies’ core functions

We have high expectations of governing bodies. They are the strategic leaders of our schools and have a vital role to play in making sure every child gets the best possible education. For maintained schools this is reflected in the law, which states that the purpose of maintained school governing bodies is to ‘conduct the school with a view to promoting high standards of educational achievement at the school

In all types of schools, governing bodies should have a strong focus on three core strategic functions:

  1. Ensuring clarity of vision,ethos and strategic direction;
  2. Holding the head teacher to account for the educational performance of the
    school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff; and
  3. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its
    money is well spent.

This amounts to a demanding role for governing bodies. Evidence suggests that those that deliver it well do so by:

  • understanding their strategic role – building a productive and supportive relationship with the headteacher while holding them to account for school performance and taking hard strategic decisions in the light of objective data;
  • ensuring governors have the necessary skills and commitment, including to challenge the school to bring about improvement and hold leaders to account for performance;
  • appointing an effective chair to lead and manage the governing body – guidance on the crucial role of the chair of governors, developed jointly with the National Governors’ Association (NGA), is available on the NCTL website;
  • appointing a high quality clerk to advise them on the nature of their functions and duties and ensure the governing body operates efficiently and effectively;
  • evaluating their performance regularly in the light of Ofsted expectations and other good practice and making changes as necessary to improve their effectiveness; and
  • governing more than one school to develop a more strategic perspective and create more robust accountability through the ability to compare and contrast across schools.

Effective governing bodies also think carefully about how they are organised. This includes thinking about whether and how to use their powers to delegate functions and decisions to committees or individual governors. Governing bodies may decide to task individual governors to take an interest in a specific area, such as SEN, safeguarding or health and safety, but there is no legal requirement for either maintained schools or academies to do so. There are many different models and governing bodies are best placed to decide for themselves what will work best in their own circumstances. It is the overall governing body, however, that in all cases remains accountable in law and to Ofsted for the exercise of its functions. We expect every governing body to focus strongly on its core functions and to retain oversight of them.

It is essential that governing bodies recruit and develop governors with the skills to deliver their core functions effectively. However, it is equally important to emphasise that the skills required are those to oversee the success of the school, not to do the school’s job for it. For example, a governor with financial expertise should use their skills to scrutinise the school’s accounts, not to help prepare them. If a governor does possess skills that the school wishes to utilise on a pro bono basis, then it is important that this is considered voluntary work and not governance, and steps should be taken to ensure that this does not blur lines of accountability.

1.3 Setting vision, ethos and strategic direction

Governing bodies are the key strategic decision-making body of every school. It is their role to set the school’s strategic framework and to ensure all statutory duties are met.

The governing body should ensure that the school has a medium to long-term vision for its future – which it may be helpful to articulate in a specific written vision statement. The governing body should also ensure that there is a robust strategy in place for achieving its vision. This strategy should address the fundamental questions of where are we now, where do we want to be, and how are we going to get there. This includes considering the type of school which would offer the best opportunities for achieving future aims.

While it is essential to build a strong and cohesive non-executive team, the most robust governing bodies welcome and thrive on a having sufficiently diverse range of viewpoints such that open debate leads to good decisions in the interests of the whole school community.

1.4 Holding the headteacher to account

Governing bodies should work to support and strengthen the leadership of the headteacher, and hold them to account for the day-to-day running of the school, including the performance management of teachers. Governing bodies should play a strategic role, and avoid routine involvement in operational matters. It should focus strongly on holding the headteacher to account for exercising his/her professional judgement in these matters and all of their other duties.

However, since the governing body is responsible in law for the school, it may need to intervene in operational matters if a circumstance arises where, because of the actions or inactions of the headteacher, the school may be in breach of a duty if the governing body did not intervene. Having advised the governing body, the headteacher must comply with any reasonable direction given by it.

1.4.2 Asking the right questions

Effective governing bodies hold their headteacher and other senior school leaders to account for improving school performance by asking the right questions. This might include asking:

  • Which groups of pupils are the highest and lowest performing, and why? Do you have credible plans for addressing underperformance or less than expected progress? How will we know that things are improving?
  • Which year groups or subjects get the best and worst results and why? How does this relate to the quality of teaching across the school? What is your strategy for improving the areas of weakest performance?
  • How are you going to raise standards for all children, including the most and least able, those with special educational needs, those receiving free school meals, boys and girls, those of a particular ethnicity, and any who are currently underachieving?
  • Have your decisions been made with reference to external evidence, for example has the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Toolkit been used to determine Pupil Premium spending decisions? How will you know if your approach is working? Will the impact of decisions and interventions be monitored and supported, using appropriate tools such as the EEF DIY Evaluation Guide?
  • Do we have the right staff and the right development and reward arrangements?
  • What is the school’s approach to implementation of pay reform and performance related pay? If appropriate, is it compliant with the most up to date version of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document?
  • Is this a happy school with a positive learning culture? What is our track record on attendance, behaviour and bullying? Are safeguarding procedures securely in place? What are you doing to address any current issues, and how we will know if it is working?
  • How good is our wider offer to pupils? Is the school offering a good range of sports, arts and voluntary activities? Is school food healthy and popular?
  • Do we listen to what pupils and parents are telling us?

1.4.3 The importance of objective data

Governing bodies must have good and timely data to help them to know the questions they need to ask and to provide answers to their questions.

Many governors may not be familiar with looking at and understanding data. There is a large volume of data available. It is essential that every governing body have at least one governor with the skills to understand and interpret the full detail of the financial and performance data available. These governors should make sure that the wider governing body has a correct understanding of the school’s performance and finances. They should identify from the data the issues that most need to be discussed. Other governors should learn from them and undertake any available training opportunities to improve their confidence and skills in looking at data. While governing bodies may decide to establish a committee to look in detail at performance data, all governors should be able to engage fully with discussions about the performance of their school.

It is the headteacher’s job (and in maintained schools it is their legal duty4) to give governing bodies all the information they need to do their job well. This means they should help governing bodies access the data published by the department and Ofsted. They should also provide regularly whatever management information the governing body requires to monitor different aspects of life in the school throughout the year. In particular, governing bodies will need to see information relating to the priorities they have identified for improvement. This might include data on:

  • pupil learning and progress;
  • pupil applications, admissions, attendance and exclusions;
  • staff absence, recruitment, retention, morale and performance; and
  • the quality of teaching.

Governing bodies, not headteachers, should determine the scope and format of headteacher’s termly reports. This will mean that they receive the information they need in a format that enables them to stay focused on their core strategic functions and not get distracted or overwhelmed by information of secondary importance.

The headteacher and school should not be the only source of information for the governing body. That would make it hard to hold the headteacher to account properly. Governors need to make sure that at least once a year they see objective data from other sources so that they can feel empowered to ask pertinent and searching questions. Governing bodies can get annual performance data direct from a number of sources.

Through pre-arranged visits that have a clear focus, governors can see whether the school is implementing the policies and improvement plans they have signed off and how they are working in practice. Visits also provide an opportunity to talk with pupils, staff and parents to gather their views.

Governors are not inspectors and it is not their role to assess the quality or method of teaching or extent of learning. They are also not school managers and should make sure they do not interfere in the day-to-day running of the school. Both are the role of the headteacher. If governors wish to spend time within a classroom, they need to be very clear why they are doing so.

1.5 Overseeing financial performance

Governing bodies are responsible for making sure their school’s money is well spent. They should do this by making sure they have at least one governor with specific skills and experience of financial matters, and by asking questions such as:

  • Are we allocating our resources in line with our strategic priorities?
  • Are we making full use of all our assets and efficient use of all our financial
  • Are other schools buying things cheaper or getting better results with less spending per pupil?
    How can we get better value for money from our budget?
  • We publish a range of financial information about maintained schools and academies. Governors can use this information to compare spending against that of similar schools. Benchmarking financial information in this way helps governors to question whether resources could be used more efficiently. For example:
    • If the cost of energy seems high compared to similar schools, are there opportunities for investment in energy-saving devices to reduce the cost?
    • If spend on learning resources seems high compared to similar schools, are there opportunities for collaborating with other local schools to bring costs down?

Financial requirements on academy trusts are set out in the Education Funding Agency’s (EFA) ‘Academies Financial Handbook’ and in their funding agreement. Academies and their auditors should also read the ‘Academies Accounts Direction’, when preparing and auditing annual reports and financial statements.

There is a wide range of information sources and tools available to help schools secure the best value for money. Further guidance and links to organisations that are able to provide support, are available on GOV.UK.

1.7 Accountability of governing bodies

The government values every person who volunteers to help improve their school by being a governor. How well a governing body does its job has a real impact on the success of a school. Therefore, although they are made up of volunteers, governing bodies cannot afford to be amateur and must be accountable for their effectiveness.

Governors’ first line of accountability is to parents and the wider school and local community. They can use performance data from the Department and Ofsted to see how their school is doing.
Governors should be mindful that in exercising governing body functions, and as required in maintained schools by legislation7, they must act with integrity, objectivity and honesty and in the best interests of the school; and be open about the decisions they make and the actions they take and in particular should be prepared to explain their decisions and actions to interested parties.
Similarly, governors should be aware of and accept the seven principles of public life, as set out by Lord Nolan and applying to anyone, locally and nationally, who is elected or appointed as a public office-holder. They are selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.

In the interests of transparency, all schools and academies should publish, including on their website, up to date details of the structure of the governing body and any committees, together with the names of their governors and their particular roles and responsibilities within that structure. They should also publish an annual statement setting out the key issues that have been faced and addressed by the governing body over the last year, including an assessment of the impact of the governing body on the school. For academies, these details of their governance arrangements must also be provided within the governance statement of their published annual accounts.

Independent inspection plays a vital regulatory role and underpins the Department’s accountability framework for education. Ofsted is independent, impartial and aims to promote improvement in the schools it inspects and regulates. Every week Ofsted carries out hundreds of inspections and regulatory visits and publishes the results on its website.

1.8.2 Support and training for governors

Governing bodies have a challenging job to do. High quality induction and continual professional development is vital to equip governors with the skills they need, but we do not think that it is for government to make training compulsory. Our focus is on the outcome of effectiveness, it is governing bodies that understand best the training and development needs of their governors.

Good governing bodies set out clearly what they expect of their governors, particularly when they first join the governing body. The governing body’s code of conduct should set an ethos of professionalism and high expectations of governors’ role, including an expectation that they undertake whatever training or development activity is needed to fill any gaps in the skills they have to contribute to effective governance. If a governor fails persistently to do this, then they will be in breach of the code of conduct and may bring the governing body or the office of a governor into disrepute – and as such provide grounds for the governing body to consider suspension.

Good governing bodies also carry out regular audits of governors’ skills in the light of the skills and competences they need, and actively seek to address any gaps they identify – through either recruitment or training. They have succession plans in place and develop future leaders by identifying and nurturing talent and sharing responsibility. It is for governing bodies to identify training and development opportunities and select those that meet their needs.