When I first became a governor of Moorfield Primary School in 1984, the world of education was very different. Schools were run primarily by local education authorities, there were no rigorous Ofsted inspections, children in primary schools were not subjected to national tests and the involvement of parents was restricted to the annual open evenings and occasional fund raising events. All of that changed when schools were required to manage themselves and, over the years, more and more responsibility has been placed in the hands of the Head Teacher and other Senior Managers. It has also made the role of that small group of people who volunteer their services to the school as governors more important.
Members of a school governing body are entirely unpaid, often performing a balancing act as they juggle their commitments to work, child care and other activities with those required by the school. Thirty years ago, this was relatively easy as I was only required to attend three meetings a year when the agenda was largely set by the Local Authority. In order to conduct our business these days, we have to serve on various sub-committees that each meet four times a year. These make vital decisions about what is being taught to the children, how they are being assessed and whether they are being enabled to make the best of their abilities. We must also ensure that they have a safe and stimulating environment, while teaching and non-teaching staff are well trained and supported in order to continuously improve their performance. Crucially, we have to satisfy the officials who hold us to account that the funds allocated to the school are being spent wisely. This means providing top quality teachers, overseeing improvements to buildings and outdoor areas, whilst ensuring all the other facilities that are essential to day-to-day management are in place.
On every governing body, there must be representation from parents, staff, the local education authority and the community in general. This year we have been required to alter the balance of membership so there is a higher proportion of parent governors, just one who represents the local authority and one staff governor in addition to the Head Teacher. We can still co-opt additional members in order to recruit people from local industry and the community who can make an important contribution and we have decided to keep the size of the governing body the same for the time being. Details of who the current governors are can be found elsewhere on this website.
As governors of Moorfield School, we are conscious of our responsibility for maintaining the high standards of education that have always been achieved, whilst striving to make this one of the best performing schools nationally as well as in Halton. As well as providing support to the senior managers in coping with financial and other demands, often during difficult economic circumstances, we are also required to challenge them on a regular basis. This involves asking important questions, scrutinising the results and monitoring the performance of the Head Teacher so that the children benefit. To do this, we need to have the appropriate skills and most governors bring these with them from their experience of work. But, especially for people who work outside the world of education, there is quite a bit of specialist training that is also required.
I am pleased to say that the governing body has consistently received a ‘good’ grade from Ofsted inspectors each time they have visited the school but we cannot afford to rest on our laurels as there is always another inspection to come. Quite rightly, we support the school in giving priority to the teaching of English and maths as children must have high standards of literacy and numeracy to succeed in life. However, there is much more to the school curriculum than those two subjects and it is important that children are given all sorts of other experiences including scientific investigation, playing a variety of sports (to maintain health and fitness), learning about our history and that of other cultures. There should always be a busy programme of activities outside the school timetable and plenty of opportunities for our pupils to develop their skills in music and other forms of creative art.
Of course, the part that parents & carers play in the education of their children, in partnership with the school, is vital to their success. The governors and Head Teacher are always keen to hear the views of parents/carers on how the school is performing and what improvements can be made. Moorfield also has a significant contribution to make towards the local community and we are continually looking for opportunities to extend our links with local employers and voluntary organisations.
The fundamental objective of Moorfield School, shared by governors and staff, is to provide a child-centred education which should give every child the opportunity to fulfil his or her potential. We are conscious that the school has a profound effect on the development of the ‘citizens of tomorrow’ as well as contributing to their individual successes.
Chair of Governors