Policies and the statutory work cycle
Governing body policies
Every governing body must have appropriate policies in place and review them regularly. A full list of the legally required policies is available on the GOV.UK Statutory policies for schools and academy trusts page.
Safeguarding is one of the primary responsibilities of everyone involved in running your school. Governing bodies are accountable for ensuring that their school has effective child protection policies and procedures, in accordance with local and national guidance. This includes having a senior member of the school’s leadership team designated as the child protection lead.
More information can be found on the Tower Hamlets Safeguarding Children Board pages.
Guidance on exclusions
Excluding a pupil is a very serious issue. Legally, governors must consider any decision made by school leaders to exclude.
The latest guidance can be found on the GOV.UK School suspensions and permanent exclusions page. Tower Hamlets own guidance on pupil exclusion is available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annual cycle of work
All governing bodies should have an annual cycle of work plan, sometimes referred to as a forward plan, identifying key tasks to be completed each term. This document should be agreed at the first governing body meeting of each autumn term.
When setting the annual cycle of work governors should bear in mind that individual governing body agendas will contain many items to be addressed each term in addition to those in the annual cycle of work.
All the governing body's policies need to be reviewed on a regular cycle and these should be noted in the annual cycle of work to ensure they are reviewed and approved to meet statutory requirement.
Governing body development plan
Governing bodies should be mindful of their own development. It is recommended that they draw up a governing body development plan, linked to the school’s own development plan.
Governors are encouraged to delegate to committees so that essential tasks can be managed efficiently. All committees must have formal terms of reference.
It is up to individual schools how many committees they have, although there are statutory requirements to have committees dealing with:
- pupil exclusions and appeals
- staff discipline and appeals
Governing bodies also normally have a finance committee which oversees the school's finances and budget, as well as one overseeing curriculum standards.
The governing body has overall responsibility for finance in schools and for setting the budget. Governors are not expected to be financial experts and it is not their responsibility to agree every individual item of expenditure.
The governing body works with school leaders to make strategic decisions on how the school’s budget will be spent. School staff will draw up the draft budget for review by the governing body. This is often delegated to the finance committee, then approved by the whole governing body.
The governing body is not a financial auditor. Professional auditing of the finances of Tower Hamlets schools is undertaken by the internal audit team of Tower Hamlets council. Their audit reports are given to the school and the governing body.
Schools Financial Value Standard (SFVS)
The DfE (Department of Education) SFVS is primarily aimed at governors. Maintained schools are required to conduct an assessment against SFVS once a year.
SFVS is not externally assessed, but schools must undertake self-assessments which should be signed by the chair of governors and must be sent to the local authority.
It is in the scope of local authorities' powers to issue a notice of concern or in extremis to withdraw financial delegation from schools that fail to complete the SFVS as required.
Visit the SFVS website for more information.
One of the most important responsibilities governors have is to make sure that all pupils are offered a rich and engaging curriculum.
It should be a fundamental part of the school’s vision for the future. Governors on this committee will work with school leaders to support development of this vision, ensuring that it meets statutory requirements.
Governors can join the NGA either as individual members or as a governing body. This gives them access to NGA’s high quality publications giving advice to governors on a wide range of subjects. Governor Services can advise whether your school already has membership.
Governing bodies can join The Key for Governors, which offers more advice, and guidance, including model policies and key documents.
Contact us at email@example.com if you or your school would like more information on NGA or The Key. We can provide discounts for all Tower Hamlets schools.
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