Code of Conduct for School Governing Boards
We reviewed and amended our Code of Conduct in September 2019 as follows:
The governing board has the following strategic functions:
Establishing the strategic direction, by:
- Setting and ensuring clarity of vision, values, and objectives for the school(s)/trust
- Agreeing the school improvement strategy with priorities and targets
- Meeting statutory duties
Ensuring accountability, by:
- Appointing the lead executive/headteacher (where delegated)
- Monitoring the educational performance of the school/s and progress towards agreed targets
- Performance managing the lead executive/headteacher (where delegated)
- Engaging with stakeholders
- Contributing to school self-evaluation
Overseeing financial performance, by:
- Setting the budget
- Monitoring spending against the budget
- Ensuring money is well spent and value for money is obtained
- Ensuring risks to the organisation are managed
As individuals on the board we agree to the following:
Role & Responsibilities
- We understand the purpose of the board and the role of the executive leaders.
- We accept that we have no legal authority to act or communicate individually, except when the board has given us delegated authority to do so, and therefore we will only speak on behalf of the governing board when we have been specifically authorised to do so.
- We are mindful that in all communication with school stakeholders (this includes face to face, email and social media including Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, amongst others) – we are seen as representatives of the school.
- When communicating in our private capacity (including on social media) we will be mindful of and strive to uphold the reputation of the school.
- We agree to work as critical friends, both supporting and challenging the school. Unless there is a very good reason to do so, challenges should be made in the private setting of governors’ meetings. In public settings (which includes social media) governors should support the school if they feel the need to contribute to a discussion.
- Governors that are also parents at the school should be mindful that they are always seen by fellow parents as governors and therefore representing the school. This means that communication both face-to-face and on social media needs careful consideration. Likewise, school’s ethos and policies should be upheld and supported in public by all governors.
- We accept collective responsibility for all decisions made by the board or its delegated agents. This means that we will not speak against majority decisions outside the governing board meeting.
- We have a duty to act fairly and without prejudice, and in so far as we have responsibility for staff, we will fulfil all that is expected of a good employer.
- We will encourage open governance and will act appropriately.
- We will consider carefully how our decisions may affect the community and other schools.
- We will always be mindful of our responsibility to maintain and develop the ethos and reputation of our school. Our actions within the school and the local community will reflect this.
- In responding to criticism or complaints affecting the school or governors, we will follow the procedures established by the governing board, please see the complaints policy for the procedure in dealing with complaints. As per our values, we will seek to understand first, respect and forgive one another. We will also take into account the level of reputational risk to the school.
- We will actively support and challenge the executive leaders.
- We will accept and respect the difference in roles between the board and staff, ensuring that we work collectively for the benefit of the organisation;
- We will respect the role of the executive leaders and their responsibility for the day to day management of the organisation and avoid any actions that might undermine such arrangements;
- We agree to adhere to the school’s rules and polices and the procedures of the governing board as set out by the relevant governing documents and law.
- When formally speaking or writing in our governing role we will ensure our comments reflect current organisational policy even if they might be different to our personal views.
- We acknowledge that accepting office as a governor involves the commitment of significant amounts of time and energy.
- We will each involve ourselves actively in the work of the governing board, and accept our fair share of responsibilities, including service on committees or working groups.
- We will make full efforts to attend all meetings and where we cannot attend explain in advance why we are unable to.
- We will get to know the school well and respond to opportunities to involve ourselves in school activities.
- We will visit the school, with all visits arranged in advance with the executive leaders and undertaken within the framework established by the governing board and agreed with the Headteacher.
- When visiting the school in a personal capacity (i.e. as a parent or carer), we will maintain our underlying responsibility as a governor.
- We will consider seriously our individual and collective needs for induction, training and development, and will undertake relevant training.
- We accept that in the interests of open governance, our full names, date of appointment, terms of office, roles on the governing board, attendance records, relevant business and pecuniary interests, category of governor and the body responsible for appointing us will be published on the school’s website.
- In the interests of transparency we accept that information relating to governors/trustees/academy committee members will be collected and logged on the DfE’s national database of governors (Get information about schools).
- We will strive to work as a team in which constructive working relationships are actively promoted.
- We will express views openly, courteously and respectfully in all our communications with other governors, the clerk to the governing board and school staff both in and outside of meetings.
- We will support the chair, vice chair and each other in our mutual roles of ensuring appropriate conduct both publicly and privately.
- We are prepared to answer queries from other governors in relation to delegated functions and take into account any concerns expressed, and we will acknowledge the time, effort and skills that have been committed to the delegated function by those involved.
- We will seek to develop effective working relationships with the executive leaders, staff and parents, church, the local authority and other relevant agencies and the community.
- We will observe complete confidentiality on all issues both inside and outside school. For avoidance of doubt, all issues are deemed to be confidential and inappropriate to discuss with other stakeholders on an individual basis.
- We will exercise the greatest prudence at all times when discussions regarding school business arise outside a governing board meeting.
- We will not reveal the details of any governing board vote.
- We will ensure our online profile and communication reflects the ethos, Christian values and vision of the school.
- We will ensure all our communication is in line with this policy, including social media, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat to name a few.
- We will ensure all confidential papers are held and disposed of appropriately.
Conflicts of interest
- We will record any pecuniary or other business interest (including those related to people we are connected with) that we have in connection with the governing board’s business in the Register of Business Interests, and if any such conflicted matter arises in a meeting we will offer to leave the meeting for the appropriate length of time.
- We accept that the Register of Business Interests will be published on the school’s website.
- We will also declare any conflict of loyalty at the start of any meeting should the situation arise.
- We will act in the best interests of the school as a whole and not as a representative of any group, even if elected to the governing board.
Ceasing to be a governor/trustee/academy committee member
- We understand that the requirements relating to confidentiality will continue to apply after a governor member leaves office
Breach of this code of conduct
- If we believe this code has been breached, we will raise this issue with the chair and the chair will investigate objectively and appropriately seeking all perspectives. In all cases, disputes will first seek a face-to-face meeting in the first instance. In line with our ethos of forgiveness, the governing body will only use suspension/removal as a last resort after a thorough investigation has taken place and the level of risk to the school reputation has been considered. In the case of conflict or disputes, we will always seek to resolve any difficulties or disputes firstly by encouraging face-to-face dialogues, unless any party has good reason to refuse.
- We have a right to encourage and recommend further support and help should we feel it is necessary and that may include pastoral support from the church clergy, counselling, advice from the local authority and other appropriate parties. If so, we will seek permission from all parties in the first instance.
- Should it be the chair that we believe has breached this code, another governor, such as the vice chair will investigate. If the vice chair is implicated, then another governor will be appointed to investigate.
The seven principles of public life
(Originally published by the Nolan Committee: The Committee on Standards in Public Life was established by the then Prime Minister in October 1994, under the Chairmanship of Lord Nolan, to consider standards of conduct in various areas of public life, and to make recommendations).
- Selflessness– Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
- Integrity– Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
- Objectivity– Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
- Accountability– Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
- Openness– Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
- Honesty– Holders of public office should be truthful
- Leadership– Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
Adopted by the governing board of St John’s C.E. Primary School September 2019
For review: September 2021
St John’s N20 Instrument of Government Jan 2017 – January 2017