Know Your Responsibilities

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    • 00:05


    • 00:17

      NARRATOR: Governors are responsibletogether for a large number of areas within a school.Getting to grips with these responsibilitiesis an important aspect of a governor's role.But if you're new, where do you start?To help find out, we're going to set three new governorsfrom different schools tasks designedto help them get to know their legal responsibilities.

    • 00:38

      NARRATOR [continued]: They'll be set by governance expert Judy Burgess,and will focus on health and safety, special needs,and financial responsibilities.At the end of the tasks, the governorswill report back and discuss what they have learned.First, Judy finds out what our governors know already.

    • 00:55

      JUDY BURGESS: Today we're going to be lookingat getting to know your responsibilities.[Judy Burgess, Consultant, School Governance]And that really is your legal responsibilities.And there are many of them.But I just want to know from your perspective whatyou know already about governing bodies' legal responsibilities.

    • 01:08

      MARK GIBBS: You're right, there is obviously a lot,and I've not read through it all yet,but it's obviously a lot to take in there, I think.[Mark Gibbs, Governor, Littletown Primary School,Honiton]

    • 01:15

      MARGARET BYRNE: I don't know anythingabout the legal responsibilities.However, I have been given a great big folderthat tells me that this is the guide to the law.But as far as it goes, that's it.[Margaret Byrne, Governor, Kingsweston School, Bristol]

    • 01:27

      TOYIN LAGUDA: I haven't got the time yetto look through those packs.There's lots of it in there. [Toyin Laguda, Governor,Archbishop, Michael Ramsey Technical College, Camberwell]

    • 01:32

      NARRATOR: Our governors are goingto look at three legal responsibilities, healthand safety, special needs, and finance.Each will be given a task to look at one area in detail.

    • 01:40

      JUDY BURGESS: So Toyin, I've set you-- you're a secondary schoolgovernor, and I've set you the responsibilityfor special needs.So I'm asking you to find out what it is,and how special needs is coordinated in your school,and how the governing body gets information.OK?And Margaret, I'm going to set you on health and safety.

    • 02:01

      JUDY BURGESS [continued]: So again, I want to know what the responsibility is,and how the governing body gets the information, how it relatesto the governing body's work.Mark, I'm going to set you the task of finance.So what is it, what's the governing body'sresponsibility, and how do the governorsknow about the finance of the school?So I wish you all the best on your tasks.

    • 02:23

      JUDY BURGESS [continued]: Off you go, into your schools.And we look forward to seeing you later on,when we come back together to see how you've got on.

    • 02:29

      MARK GIBBS: OK.The

    • 02:30

      NARRATOR: Governors have all decidedto use the Guide to the Law, the legal handbook publishedby the DFES, and normally supplied to all governors.So what's Margaret found out about health and safety?

    • 02:40

      MARGARET BYRNE: It would seem that the governing body isresponsible for the health and safety of almosteverything that goes on in the school,but as advised by the teaching staff, the head teacher,particularly, if there's particular problems.But there's a lot of health and safety.I should imagine the best course of action

    • 03:01

      MARGARET BYRNE [continued]: would be to find a specific thing,and talk to the chair of governorsand see if there is anything in particular that we can look at.

    • 03:09

      NARRATOR: Margaret discovers thereis a problem with a fence at her special school in Bristol,and has decided to find out more from the deputy headand chair of governors.

    • 03:17

      RICHARD YANDELL: Problem we've got.

    • 03:18

      MARGARET BYRNE: Right.

    • 03:19

      RICHARD YANDELL: Basically, these have come undone,and the wire's dropping off.

    • 03:23

      MARGARET BYRNE: OK.So what's the risk with it, as is?

    • 03:26

      RICHARD YANDELL: No matter how many clipsthe caretaker puts back in--

    • 03:29

      MARGARET BYRNE: They take them off.

    • 03:31

      RICHARD YANDELL: It just gets pulled off.The children run into it, bounce off it.

    • 03:34

      MARGARET BYRNE: Can you not decide justto take it down yourselves?

    • 03:36

      RICHARD YANDELL: I mean, I could instruct the caretakerto take it down, but I mean I think it's something I'd ratherdiscuss with the senior management.[Richard Yandell, Deputy Headmaster, Kingsweston School]Plus, actually the staff are on duty,and also the children actually use of use of playground.

    • 03:49

      MARGARET BYRNE: And how would thatcome into us, as governors?

    • 03:52

      ALAN ROBERTS: Well, because there is a health and safetyissue, there with the fence. [Alan Roberts, Chairof Governors, Kingsweston School] Richardhas reported it to the health and safety committee.So the governors are aware of the situation.Not do do anything about it at this particular time,but to discuss various ways-- because the governors havethe ultimate responsibility for the health and safety

    • 04:13

      ALAN ROBERTS [continued]: of the children in the school.

    • 04:14

      MARGARET BYRNE: OK.And so that would come down to us as a governing body.

    • 04:18

      ALAN ROBERTS: As governors, we have to assess all these risks.

    • 04:21

      MARGARET BYRNE: All the risks.

    • 04:22

      ALAN ROBERTS: But the first one, obviously,is that it's not life threatening,so nothing has to be done today.

    • 04:27

      MARGARET BYRNE: No.It's a decision to be made over a period of time.

    • 04:30

      NARRATOR: While Margaret learns more about the fence,Toyin's been joined by fellow new governor Deborah,to find out about special needs in their inner citysecondary school in London.After looking online at the special needschapter in the Guide to the Law, theydecided to visit their school and beginby meeting the head of inclusion, Helen Webb.

    • 04:48

      TOYIN LAGUDA: So being a new governor, whatare the responsibilities of governors,regards to your aspect of special needs students?

    • 04:55

      HELEN WEBB: OK.We have a governor who's specially allocatedto the special educational needs department, who comes and visitus once a term, at least, and reports back to the governors.[Helen Webb, Head of Inclusion, Archbishop Michael RamseyTechnical College] So you would get feedbackfrom all of us, via that governor.But we do welcome any visits, and any interest that's shown.

    • 05:15

      HELEN WEBB [continued]: So if ever you wanted to come and pay us a visit,and you had any concerns, then we'd be very welcoming to you,and lending support.

    • 05:24

      TOYIN LAGUDA: You have ethnic groups, for which Englishis not their first language.Does that reflect in the special need-- a special need?

    • 05:34

      HELEN WEBB: It depends on how well they cope with English,as well as Yoruba, or whatever languageit is that they speak at home.And we have a lot of children whomanage to get their five A star to see GCSEs,like they're expected to do.But we also have a number of children who struggle,

    • 05:55

      HELEN WEBB [continued]: and you need extra support.So it depends on the individual child.

    • 05:60

      NARRATOR: Toyin and Deborah want to know moreabout the assessment of special needs students,so they've arranged to meet the school's special needscoordinator, Linda Chung.

    • 06:08

      TOYIN LAGUDA: You have this childcomes to you with the parents.Your levels of assessment, level that you have to do,before you're able to take it from there.

    • 06:16

      LINDA CHUNG: Oh, yes.When we have a child, you have to assessthem automatically. [Linda Chung, SENCO, ArchbishopMichael Ramsey Technical College]We tend to have liaison with primary schools,and if we know that the child has difficulty,we have prior to the child coming to school wecontact the school ourself, and we have liaison with them.

    • 06:35

      DEBORAH: I know you have had an SEN governor.How do you get reported to and fro, to the governor?

    • 06:41

      LINDA CHUNG: We see the governor maybe a term.We have a located person, the SEN governors,who come and have a little chat with all member, all this staffhere, in different corners, and then go and visitand look at pupils' work, as well,and discuss with the children.

    • 06:59

      NARRATOR: While Toyin learns more, how'sour third governor getting on?Mark's delving into the Guide to the Law to look at finance.

    • 07:06

      MARK GIBBS: The one bit I did noticewas about how the school makes sure it's gettingbest value for its investments.That's the only thing I need to look into a bitfurther, and perhaps find that thing that the school spentsome money on recently, and understand how I can actuallyunderstand how best value is actuallyobtained from that investment.

    • 07:24

      NARRATOR: Mark's hoping to find the information heneeds from the schools chair of governors and head teacher.

    • 07:30

      JO FRITH: How we do it in school is determined in our financepolicy about when we buy things, depending on the value of whatwe're buying, we either get two quotes,or we have to have a formal tender, or something like that.[Jo Frith, Chair of Governors, Littletown Primary School]And those are agreed limits that we set ourselves,for determining best value.

    • 07:51

      MARK GIBBS: Is there something the school has bought recentlywe could have a look at, and I can--

    • 07:55

      JO FRITH: Well, yes.We've just bought some whiteboards for the classrooms.So Caroline, maybe you'd like to talk about that.

    • 08:01

      CAROLINE BOND: Yes, we just boughttwo new interactive whiteboards. [Caroline Bond, Headteacher,Littletown Primary School] And we were really lucky this timearound, because we were able to goto the local educational authority,and they'd already done a best value search,and were able to recommend a certain company.But of course, the most important aspect of best valueis how it impacts on children's learning.And maybe you'd like to come along and see them in action.

    • 08:23

      NARRATOR: To see a patch purchase in action,Mark's visiting Alan Luxton's year four classroom.

    • 08:27

      CAROLINE BOND: You think there's something up on herethat might eat small seeds of a plant?Well done.Hold on, Dee.

    • 08:34

      MARK GIBBS: It would be interesting whenhe brings the teaching to life.I guess we'll have them be using the blackboard,than just use a textbook.With the kids being able to actually interact with it,it must make the learning a lot more interesting.But we need to have a chat with Alan,to find out how it's changed the way he teaches.

    • 08:51

      ALAN LUXTON: They're very useful,being able to create things on the spur of the moment fromdiscussions, but then return to something that's saved,and get the discussion back to the way that you want it to go.[Alan Luxton, Year 4 Teacher] And the children really seemto enjoy the physical nature of it, dragging things around.And coming and having them write on it certainly saves time.And the children are benefiting, because they're going to do.

    • 09:11

      MARK GIBBS: So do you think this has been a good investment?

    • 09:13

      ALAN LUXTON: I think overall it has been a good investment.I'm aware of the cost involved in it.But I think once they're installed,the benefit for the rest of this term is going to be great.

    • 09:21

      NARRATOR: After completing their tasks,the governors report back to Judy.They start by talking about the usefulness of the Guideto the Law.

    • 09:29

      MARK GIBBS: It really is all laid out there.You probably have to take it in bit-sized chunks.

    • 09:34

      MARGARET BYRNE: Although it's a huge and hideouslooking document, it really is quite plain,when you get to the bit that you need to look at.But don't try and read the whole thing.I think it's just, look at it when you need it.

    • 09:43

      MARK GIBBS: Yeah, just take a a topic.It's a time--

    • 09:46

      TOYIN LAGUDA: That's why I focus on the specific subject,whatever.

    • 09:50

      JUDY BURGESS: Good.So the Guide To the Law was a really good starting point.It's contents, it's much fuller at the back,to be able to find out what you want.Now, one's coming into a bit more detail,and see what you find out, what youdid find out about your specific responsibilities.Mark, we said, finance, find out.So tell us about your journey, then.

    • 10:09

      MARK GIBBS: The one thing I particularly picked up onwas looking at value for money.So I sat down with the chair on governors and the head teacher,saying, is there an example of somethingthe school's bought recently?They're like, can I actually sort of follow the storythrough, really, and look at it.And the school recently purchasedsome interactive whiteboards.So that enabled me to go in the classroom,

    • 10:29

      MARK GIBBS [continued]: and actually see the whiteboards being used to deliver a lesson.It really brought it to life, whatcould have been a very dry subject, [INAUDIBLE] for money,going and seeing how it's used, and talking to people brings itto life.

    • 10:42

      JUDY BURGESS: So you've picked uphow the governing body prioritized that spending,and then tracking it through and seeing it in action.I think that would be a really good example for governorsto follow.Toyin, we set you the task to do special educational needs.So tell me what you found out in your school.

    • 10:58

      TOYIN LAGUDA: I met with a class coordinator who was specific,regards to special needs.Being in a city school, it has a sortof different background of people,with differences of needs.So therefore, special education isone of the aspects in that school,to be able to assist people, for themto be able to meet the basic student needs.

    • 11:21

      JUDY BURGESS: But what you learnedwas the special educational needs specific to your school,and that's what it's all about.So do you feel you learned more about, at the end?

    • 11:29

      TOYIN LAGUDA: I did.By the time I came out from there,I've enriched my knowledge.And that experts on, I look forward to be one of those--one of the governors--

    • 11:38

      JUDY BURGESS: For special needs.

    • 11:39

      TOYIN LAGUDA: And those experts, [INAUDIBLE]with these committees.

    • 11:41

      JUDY BURGESS: So it's given you a real entrance.

    • 11:43

      TOYIN LAGUDA: Yes, it does.It does [INAUDIBLE].That, I expect yes.

    • 11:47

      JUDY BURGESS: So let's move on now to health and safety,which was yours, Margaret.So tell me what you did in school,and how you tracked yours through?

    • 11:53

      MARGARET BYRNE: Well, I really didn't see quite howhealth and safety fitted in.So I went to school, and I spoke with chair of governors,and we explored the Guide to the Law,and found out about health and safety.Then I asked if there was a specific thing going onat this time, that we could look out and find out about.And it turns out there's a problem with a fence.

    • 12:15

      MARGARET BYRNE [continued]: And the problem is, the top wire'scome loose, and the little hooks, [INAUDIBLE],and they're hanging down, and the children have a tendencyto climb all over it.And it's not a threat to life and limb,but it's obviously something needs to be done about it.All this has to go through the governors.So it was really actually much more interestingthan I thought it was, and I don'tknow what the solution will be.

    • 12:36

      JUDY BURGESS: The gain a good exampleof picking up something in a school,rather than just learning the theory.I'm asking you chair, is an example,can we track it through, can we see how it works?So I think that was really good.So what do you think you know nowabout statutory responsibilities,that you didn't know before.I think probably realize there is more than I first thought.

    • 12:57

      JUDY BURGESS [continued]: I think the natural assumption isthat probability the headteacher probablycarries more responsibility than the governing body does.But when you actual looked at, there'sfar more of the governing body carries--

    • 13:07

      MARGARET BYRNE: I knew that the governing body was responsiblefor pretty much the whole school,but I didn't realize quite what that meant,of I probably still don't.I certainly have more idea now.

    • 13:18

      JUDY BURGESS: I think to sum up, if we're trying to give adviceto new governors, I would say, start with The Guideto the Law.There's lots of information there you found.Seeing it at work in your governing bodyis through committees.So the main governing body will have different committees,probably attached to many of these statutoryresponsibilities.Remember, it's the corporate governing bodythat carries the can.

    • 13:38

      JUDY BURGESS [continued]: It's not you an I do hope you enjoy being a new governor,and carry on being a new governor.And who knows, sometime you'll be coming back to meand saying, I'm an inexperienced governor now.I'm not new anymore.

    • 13:50

      NARRATOR: There are two other programsfrom this series, particularly aimed at new governors.You can download them from the governor'sportal at the teachers TV website.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Know Your Responsibilities

View Segments Segment :


Three new school governors take on tasks to better learn their roles and responsibilities within the schools.

Know Your Responsibilities

Three new school governors take on tasks to better learn their roles and responsibilities within the schools.

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