The role of the Governing Body is to support the school, by ensuring that it is effectively managed and has close links with the community that it serves.
Hi. My name is Harry Oulton and I’m the Chair of the Governors at St John’s Highbury Vale. I have been the chair for five years having become a governor when my youngest child was in Reception (2011).
The St John’s GB is committed to ensuring every child realises their potential, and to living our school vision: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’.
There are 14 governors of St John’s School and they are made up of eight Foundation governors and six others. The reason for this split is to try and represent all the stakeholders in the school by having a balanced set of advisors who come from as wide and diverse a set of backgrounds as possible.
Foundation governors are appointed by the external bodies who have an interest in the school. So we have two appointed by the LDBS (London Diocesan Board for Schools), two by the Deanery Synod (an advisory body of the local Church of England), one congregant from each of our three feeder churches (Christchurch, St Thomas and St Augustine), and the final post is filled by the vicar of Christchurch, currently Andy Chrich. In addition to those eight, the Executive Headteacher is a governor, there is an elected staff governor, a governor designated by Islington Borough Council, one co-opted governor and two parent governors.
We can also appoint Associate Governors. They are asked to join one of our committees as advisors but they cannot vote at the full governors’ board. We currently have one associate governor who is a financial expert and serves on the resources committee.
What do school governors actually do?
Governors are there to make sure the school does its job, and that it develops and improves all the time. We have final say over the budget, the staffing, and the atmosphere of the school, but we are NOT involved in its day-to-day running and we cannot act on behalf of individual parents or pupils. We are at arms-length from the school, but that arm is very strong and can point a finger or give the thumbs up.
Governors are supportive of the school, its staff and its mission, and want to make a positive contribution to children’s education. But we can also be what is called “critical friends” and we are not here just to rubber-stamp things.
Together as a governing body, we oversee the development of the school and ensure a high standard of teaching and learning. We provide a strategy, we monitor and evaluate progress, we make decisions about expenditure and the school’s budget, and we work closely with the Headteacher and leadership team of the school. We are also responsible for ensuring safeguarding is properly implemented, which is a statutory part of the school’s work.
Because we are what’s called a ‘voluntary aided’ school, the governors are responsible for running the admissions process, something which we do in close conjunction with Islington Council.
The GB meets once a term (twice in the first term of the academic year) but the bulk of our work is delegated to four committees. These committees are made up of at least three governors, and they meet as often as they need to, but at least once a term.
The Admissions committee oversees the admissions process into reception every February, and also oversees any in-year admissions to the other year groups.
The Curriculum and Achievement committee is responsible for oversight of the educational aspects of the school, it looks at data, the teaching plans of the school and discusses any proposed changes to the curriculum such as the introduction of a new maths scheme for instance.
The Resources committee oversees the budget and helps to ensure the school can use its budget most effectively. They also look at personnel and the fabric of the school (premises, buildings etc).
The Children, Families and Community committee looks at all the non-educational aspects of the school, such as after school clubs, the Friends of St John’s and the interactions with the local community.
Each of these committees has a governor as the chair. We try and encourage every governor to sit on at least one committee and in addition to that many of the governors will have a specialist area, such as literacy link governor or safeguarding governor.
Because my children are long gone from St John’s I am not in the playground as often as I could be, but if you do see me, please say Hi – Alternatively, if you want to ask a question then feel free to email and I will get back to you.