Since January 2019, our school has been federated with Holy Name R.C. Primary School and is called, ‘The Roman Catholic Federation of Holy Name and Our Lady’s’. We have one governing body which is made up of representatives of the Church, parents, teachers and the local Government. The function of school governors is an important one. As Catholic schools we are required to assist Catholic parents in their duty of educating their children. Governors of our schools, and in particular foundation governors, have a responsibility to ensure that, at all times, the schools are conducted in accordance with the Diocesan Trust Deed and serves as a witness to Jesus Christ in every aspect of our work.
Governors, as members of the governing body of a voluntary aided federation, are employers of the school staff, teaching and support, with the legal and ethical responsibilities of good employers. In accepting an appointment, a governor takes on a serious responsibility. The Governing Body has three statutory roles which require them to be Strategic, a Critical Friend and Accountable.
Strategic includes ‘Vision’ – setting the short and long-term aims of the schools – and ensuring the standards of teaching and learning are as high as possible. They will also appoint the Executive Headteacher, Deputy Headteacher and other staff to achieve the agreed targets and priorities.
Critical Friend means being prepared to ask challenging questions in a supportive way to secure improvement. It also involves checking that actions are being, or have been, taken and measuring the effect of the actions on the schools’ performance.
Accountable requires governors to ensure that all statutory obligations are met, report to parents and others on the work of the schools and pupils’ achievements, and provide information to Ofsted, the LA and the Diocese.
Governors meet formally as a Governing Body at least once a term and serve on committees which focus on our various responsibilities. They also carry individual roles as Link Governors (focused on specific areas of the curriculum or other school matters) and nominated Governors for other areas needing monitoring/development.
Finally, Holy Name and Our Lady’s are part of a Catholic community. The schools were founded by, and are part of, the Catholic Church and the Foundation Governors, appointed in the name of the Bishop, form the majority of the Governing Body and have an additional legal duty to preserve and develop the Catholic character of the schools. The schools are to be conducted as a Catholic School in accordance with Canon Law and the teachings of the Catholic Church, and in accordance with the Trust Deed of the Diocese of Salford.
The Governing Body of the Roman Catholic Federation of Holy Name and Our Lady’s
Whilst the Executive Headteacher is responsible for the day-to-day management of the schools, the role of the Governing Body is to provide strategic management and to act as a ‘critical friend’, supporting and challenging the schools.
Schools generally have a budget to cover salaries, running costs, maintenance and equipment and the Governing Body is responsible for managing this budget and although the schools are federated, we run two separate budgets. The governors decide how many and what types of staff to employ, which equipment to upgrade or replace and what the priorities are for implementing new strategies and initiatives.
Governors also have a role in monitoring the schools’ progress and in setting annual targets for the schools’ performance and for the Executive Headteacher.
Governors are volunteers and the overall Governing Body is made up of a number of different types of Governor. In a federation, a governing body consists of: 2 parent governors (from either or both schools), 1 staff governor (from either school), 7 foundation governors (appointed by the Bishop and likely to be parishioners or those with a close history with school or parish) and 1 Local Authority governor.
Role of Foundation Governors
Although all of the governors have the responsibility to promote and maintain the school’s Catholic character and mission, the foundation governors have special responsibility in this area. The CES document ‘Governing a Catholic School’ (1998) gives this summary of their role.
‘Foundation governors are appointed by the Bishop specifically to ensure:
- that the religious character of the school is preserved;
- that the school is conducted in accordance with its trust deed (ie the diocesan trust deed);
- that the religious education curriculum is in accordance with the bishop’s policy for his diocese, based on the Bishops’ Conference Curriculum Directory.’
Foundation governors in Voluntary Aided schools with a religious character have additional legal duties. They are:
- in employing teachers, ‘whenever possible, they should appoint Catholic teachers in order to promote and maintain the Catholic ethos of the school.’ They must appoint practising Catholics to the posts of headteacher, deputy headteacher and co-ordinator or head of Religious Education.
- admitting children ‘first and foremost on religious grounds’, by giving priority for admission to baptised Catholic children;
- ensuring that the whole curriculum, including religious education, ‘is taught in the light of gospel values and actively promotes the spiritual and moral development of the pupils’.
Role of Staff Governors
Staff governors are elected by staff in school. There is a teaching or support staff member on the governing body and they serve a four year term.
Role of Parent Governors
Parent governors are elected by parents of the school. Parent governors are not delegates and are not obliged to get voting instructions on matters to be decided, nor to vote in accordance with the parent body’s views. It is important that parent governors can give a fair and accurate representation of parental opinion on matters of importance. Care must, however, be taken if they are approached by another parent with a complaint about the school, in which case the parent concerned should be referred to the school’s complaints policy. They vote, however, according to their own conscience and with the well being of the school foremost in mind.
Local Authority Governors
Their role is to represent the Local Authority but they do not have to vote in agreement with the views of the Authority. As all governors, their duty is to put the best interests of the school first.