Hello, my name is Vivienne Thorn and I am the newly elected chair of Stokeinteignhead School Governors. I have been a school governor at this school for a year and was previously a school governor when my own children were at school, about twenty years ago. Things have changed a lot since then. I am a retired General Practitioner and the last three years of my working life was spent as Medical Director for Torbay & South Devon Primary Care Trust. I have a lot of experience chairing committees and hope that I can transfer this skill to the Governing Body. One of my treasured memories from my time in General Practice was that patients said I was a good listener and I hope that this too will hold me in good stead in this new position.
Sometimes , it is difficult for parents to see exactly what school governors do. We are not there to run the school on a day-to-day basis- that is the job of the Headmaster and his management team. The Governing body is there to set the school’s values, vision and strategic aims, agree plans and make policies. We also monitor performance and progress towards the school’s priorities and targets, support staff and challenge their expectations. We have a role in ensuring the school is accountable to the children and parents it serves, to the local community, to those who fund it- the local authority.
The main question we have to ask ourselves is “ How do we know that…….” or in other words we have to be reassured that there is evidence to show that the school is being run efficiently and to the highest standards.
Times are difficult for many schools as budgets are being cut in real terms year on year. The Governing Body is mandated to ensure that the budget for the school is balanced (doesn’t go overdrawn) not only in this coming academic year, but also for the next three years. This work is done by the Finance Sub-committee. Financial cuts have to be dealt with as have increased expenditure such as staff pay awards and superannuation increases. Therefore, the Governing Body has to be skilled in ensuring no money is spent unnecessarily. It also means that sometimes, when staff leave, they are not replaced and creative solutions have to be found to ensure the school continues to be run at the highest standard. We are also tasked with ensuring scholastic performance is monitored and improved. This work is done by the Teaching and Learning Sub-committee who work closely with the Headmaster and the classroom teachers and often visit the school to observe lessons.
The work of the Governing Body is helped tremendously by the Clerk to the Governors, Mrs. Nikki Johnson. Parents who wish to contact the Governing body can do so by telephoning or emailing Mrs. Johnson on 01626 873208 or firstname.lastname@example.org who will pass on any message to me. I will endeavor to reply to any queries within one working day.
I hope that the flow chart below will be useful to parents. It gives an idea about who is the best person to contact if you have a query.
Finally, I am intending to write a monthly blog about what has gone on in the Governor’s meetings. This can be accessed here. I hope that this will keep parents up to date with the work we do.