Hamdon EducationHamdon Education

Head teachers and Chairs of Governors: Working Together


  • To enable headteachers and chairs of governors to agree on their respective roles and responsibilities
  • To provide a framework for discussions on effective ways of working together for the benefit of the school
  • To provide ideas for the governing body to enable them to develop appropriate relationships with the headteacher and other staff


  • A Guide to the Law for School Governors (DfES)
  • Roles and Responsibilities of Governing Bodies and Headteachers (DfES)
  • Making it Better: Improving School Governance (Ofsted)


  • The Course may be delivered over half a day (or, better – allowing more time for discussion over a 5 hour day)
  • It is designed to be delivered to a group of up to 24 comprising chairs of governors with their headteacher
  • There is no blueprint for the perfect chair/head relationship! Every school has a different relationship between the head, the chair and the governing body. Among the elements affecting the nature of the relationships will be: the comparative experience of each and their length of service; their self-confidence; their styles of interaction; the nature and history of the school; the standing of the school
  • A ‘cabaret-style’ layout is suggested, with 3 pairs to each table. An OHP, screen and flipchart are needed


  • That school improvement is only sustainable where the whole governing body is committed to the process, and where it focuses on school performance and improvement in all its business;
  • That, while the headteacher is the ‘expert’ in education, the governors are experts in the community (and in their children, if parents; in working in the school, if staff; and so on). That the ‘lay’ governors have the duty to express, from their perspective, the needs and aspirations that the community has for its children. Only when all this expertise is shared is the governing body able to work most effectively for the good of the children;
  • That this model of representative democracy is not perfect but it is the best we’ve got, so we’d better work with it;
  • That everyone’s perspective on the school is valid and must be respected – that, where views of the school differ (say, between parents and LEA governors; or between the headteacher and a member of staff), this is a function of the different standpoints from which the school is seen by pupils, parents, staff, members of the community;
  • That, for a strategic team such as a governing body, which necessarily meets comparatively infrequently, it is particularly important to share fundamental principles and expectations on a regular basis.

Nigel Gann, Hamdon Education, 2004

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