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Primary School Governors - Does your Governing Body have a Strategy Group?

(9 Posts)
bojorojo Thu 21-Apr-16 12:02:20

My GB has an "informal" Strategy Group which is the Chair and the Chairs of two committees. They meet and discuss strategy. These meetings are alluded to in Committee/FGB meetings, but there are no minutes of the meetings or reports from the Strategy Group. The latest meeting of the Strategy Group appears to have identified a budget issue for the future and has discussed what might be done to resolve the situation. I am not surprised by this beause I am aware we are using our surplus to maintain the status quo and this position is not sustainable, but we are yet to have the Resources/Finance Committee meeting this term and discussions about an outside teaching space were abruptly terminated at a meeting I attended recently because "there is no money and tough decisions now need to be made". It seems though, that only the Strategy Group know about this and decisions on expenditure have already been taken without wider discussion.

My question is: Do other Governing Bodies have strategy groups that do not report, in the form of minutes or orally, to the Governing Body? I feel they are becomming a well informed clique that are beginning to make decisions without other Governors being involved. Does this matter?

Bogburglar99 Thu 21-Apr-16 12:08:43

No - that said our Chair does a LOT of work in between meetings and as Chair, representing the full GB and having discussions with the Head. You couldn't get everything done in a two hour meeting every six weeks.

But the whole bloody point of the full Governing Body is that it's where key decisions come to be discussed and ratified. And if you have a sub group, formal or informal, I think it should have a line of reporting to the full GB, and you should have terms of reference that make clear what they have delegated authority to decide. I'd suggest raising those issues in a GB meeting, or privately with the Chair (depending how good your relationship is!)

BreconBeBuggered Thu 21-Apr-16 12:12:59

We don't have a strategy group, informal or otherwise. There's a chairs' committee that meets at the beginning of the year to outline plans, but everyone sees the minutes. The kind of issue you're referring to would be dealt with by the premises committee. I'm not sure how you could have a proper input into decision-making without access to all relevant information.

PatriciaHolm Thu 21-Apr-16 12:19:15

No. We have Resources and Children & Learning committees, each of which have minuted meetings and FGB meetings where key decisions are discussed.

bojorojo Thu 21-Apr-16 13:17:02

To clarify. The outside teaching space came up at the Curriculum Committee meeting. Any proposals for enhancing our provision should have gone to the Resources/Finance meeting but it seems to have been snuffed out before it was even disucussed.

We will get budget details at the Resources/Finance meeting sahortly but the strategy group seems to make decisions and not report anything to the GB or the Committees. I would not like to see the Committees reduced to just ratifying their decisions. The additional problem is that the Resources/Finance Committee meets very early in the term. Before the final budget is known in fact. Therefore the Strategy Group seem to look at the budget and then the Resources/Finance Committee just ratify their decisions in May because no interim meeting is called. The Resources/Finance Committee only meet once a term. I find this odd too. The Chair tends to brush comments to one side that do not accord with his thought process or, indeed, that of the strategy group.

I am wondering what my role at this school actually is?

Foxyloxy1plus1 Thu 21-Apr-16 15:48:13

No, we have Finances/Resources and Teaching&Learning. There's also a Heads and Chairs meeting. I have a regular SEN/Inclusion meeting and an SEN strategy meeting.

We have a lot of meetings as well as FGB. No problem for me, but I know others find it difficult. There are also the school council meetings.

I feel we have relevant information about everything we should.

admission Thu 21-Apr-16 18:10:53

The bottom line here is that all the governing body is the governing body taking strategic decisions not a few governors who are in their own little group.

My school has a "chairs" meeting which is the chair of governors and all the chairs of the committees but we make no decisions. We meet at the start of a term to discuss anything new that has come to our attention and allocate it to a committee for progression and also ensure that things are being progressed from last term's meeting. We make no decisions other than allocating to committees.

Like many other schools are you are hitting the financial brick wall and you need to work as a team not a set of teams, because difficult decisions will be necessary. There is a fair chance that the new national funding formula, due out for April 2017 may well also deliver a further financial blow if you are in an LA that is currently well-funded (in relative terms with other LAs)

Final question, who has actually approved your budget for this year?

fatowl Thu 21-Apr-16 19:57:22

I'm a governor of a private school so maybe slightly different but no strategy group.

We have a finance subcommittee - who do the legwork on the budget, come up with options and recommendations for full board meetings.

Development subcommittee- dealing with PR, looking at long term initiatives, admissions projections etc

Master plan subcommittee (temporary until 2018) for our refurbishment plans - we're struggling with an outdated building - small school in the 1950s which grew rapidly and building was added to adhoc

Education working party- staff and govs - looking at teaching and learning initiatives

Principal evaluation committee - meets annually to discuss KPIs for HT

bojorojo Thu 21-Apr-16 23:39:55

We are a poorly funded shire county so always near the bottom of funding league tables! We do not need to ratify the budget until May. I guess this is universal timing.

The Resources/Finance Committee do not receive interim reports and have not met since February. I assume the Chair meets the Head but we do not get reports so I do not actually know. The Strategy Group have clearly looked at the budget hence the comment about the outside teaching area. Personally I would be happier if the Strategy Group was minuted because they have clearly looked at the budget and the Resources/Finance Committee has not. I find that unacceptable.

I also get the strong impression that my fellow governors are happy with this. The make-up of the GB means that 3 are on the Strategy Group (Chairs), 2 are members of staff, 1 a former member of staff, 1 teaches at another school and then there is just me and a parent governor. We have 3 vacancies at present.

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