All schools have governing bodies made up of different categories of governors. All Catholic school governing bodies are made up of foundation governors but may also include parent governors, staff governors, the head teacher (or equivalent), local authority governors and co-opted governors.
The main role of the governing body is to operate at a strategic level, leaving the head teacher and senior school leaders responsible and accountable to the governing body for the operational day-to-day running of the school. As such, the three core functions of the governing body are:
1. Ensuring clarity of the Catholic vision, ethos and strategic direction;
2. Holding the head teacher to account for the educational performance and Catholic character of the school and its pupils; and
3. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
Foundation governors are specifically appointed by the Bishop to ensure the preservation and development of the school’s Catholic character, to ensure that the school is being conducted as a Catholic school, and to represent the Bishop’s education policy to the governing body. However, all categories of governor in a Catholic school are required to preserve and develop the Catholic character of the school in addition to their other legal duties. Foundation governors always outnumber all other governors by at least two so as to ensure a majority vote where matters of particular Catholic importance arise.
Governors come in all shapes and sizes and there is no magic formula when it comes to putting together a successful governing body. But it is important that each governing body has a good mix of skills, knowledge and experiences.
The Department for Schools manages the process for the appointment of foundation governors, provides support to governing bodies in carrying out their statutory responsibilities and their responsibilities to the Bishop and promotes the development of governors through regular newsletters, briefings and training courses.