How do governing bodies operate?
A governing body takes on most of the functions of an employer. In Voluntary Aided and Foundation schools it is the employer. It works like a committee. There is a Chair (elected from the group of governors), an agenda, and a clerk who takes minutes and gives advice. Everyone is encouraged to contribute to discussion and take part in voting (with a few exceptions).
Governors receive reports from the head teacher and others, and any governor may request that an item is placed on the agenda for discussion. Many decisions can be reached by consensus, but voting will take place if necessary.
Governing bodies also appoint various committees of 3-5 members to look at specific areas of work (e.g. finance, premises, curriculum), and these committees may make decisions on behalf of the governing body, or recommendations, depending upon their terms of reference.
Some governors may take on a "nominated" or "named" role whereby they focus specifically on one area. This may be Special Educational Needs (SEN), Health & Safety, Child Protection, Literacy, Numeracy, target setting, or a year or subject link role. A nominated governor may visit the school to familiarise themselves with their particular area, meet relevant staff, and then report back to the governing body. No individual has any power to order changes or take individual decisions however; the authority remains with the corporate body. All school visits are arranged beforehand by agreement with the head teacher and any other staff involved. Governors should never turn up at the school without an appointment, and they do not act as inspectors.