Our schools are special places where the relationship with Christ, to which all are called, enables students of all ages to take their place in the Church and in society, conscious of their dignity as children of God.
Foundation Governors are appointed in the name of the Bishop and form the majority of the governing body of a Catholic school. They have a legal duty to preserve and develop the Catholic character of the school and to ensure that the school is conducted in accordance with its trust deed. Governing boards have three core functions:
• Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
• Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff.
• Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.
The ministry of Foundation Governor is an important one, because the Catholic character of our schools depends on committed Catholics being willing to undertake this service. The Bishop is very appreciative of all those who offer to assist him in this vital task.
We are fortunate to have people from a wide range of backgrounds fulfilling the role of Foundation Governor in Catholic primary and secondary schools across Surrey and Sussex. Click on the links below to watch two short Zoom videos exploring what being a Foundation Governor in our Diocese is like:
David has been a Foundation Governor for a number of years, fulfilling the role at more than one school. One aspect David highlights is the camaraderie and sense of welcome he encounters from fellow governors. Click here to watch David's story.
Lorna initially became a Foundation Governor because her children attended the school and she wanted to 'give back' and share her Catholic faith within a school setting. Lorna explores her positive experience of being a Foundation Governor here.
Foundation Governors do not need to be education experts. The most effective governors listen, think and ask questions. There is no magic formula about what makes a perfect Foundation Governor, they come from all walks of life and all ages.
Foundation Governors play a very important role in Catholic Schools; the role is diverse, rewarding, challenging and fulfilling allowing post holders to share their time, skills and talents within a school setting. You will be encouraged to attend training sessions and will be supported in your role.
The average Foundation Governor position will take up about 10 -12 hours per month though this can vary depending on the school calendar or events, such as Ofsted inspections. The time commitment includes the minimum requirement of attending three full governor meetings per year and serving on at least one committee - committees focus on areas such as finance, curriculum, pupil progress and site management. This short video explores the benefits that volunteering your time in this way can bring.
The downloadable resources below explore the Foundation Governor role in greater depth, with information on how to make an application:
Where a vacancy arises in the office of the chair or vice-chair, the governing body must elect one of their number to fill that vacancy at their next meeting. In this Diocese the Bishop wishes that in the case of all voluntary aided schools and academies the position of chair of the governing body or local governing committee be held by a foundation governor.
The CES has produced a guidance document ‘Governance of a Catholic School’ which sets out the role and remit of the Diocesan Bishop and Trustees, diocesan officers and governors in Catholic schools and academies. This guidance explains how Catholic education is organised and the safeguards and freedoms that are in place to protect, preserve and develop the Catholic character of our schools and academies.
Governing bodies are required to have the skills necessary to carry out their functions and are required to carry out 'skills audits' to assess the existence and standard of skills and experience across the governing body. The Catholic Education Service (CES) has produced a model skills audit for Catholic schools which incorporates the mandatory or desirable skills, knowledge and experience for governors of a Catholic school.
Governing bodies should conduct an annual self-evaluation to identify their strengths and any areas of further development. To enable governing bodies to comply with these requirements they must engage with their Trustees and the Diocese on a regular and ongoing basis. The Catholic Education Service (CES) recommends that governing bodies use the following model Self Evaluation Form.
Governors and Directors of all Catholic schools and academies in England and Wales should adopt a code of conduct which sets out the purpose of their governing body or board and describes the appropriate relationship between individual governors or directors, the whole governing body or board and the leadership team of the school or college.
The Catholic Education Service (CES) has published three model Codes of Conduct:
Codes of Conduct for Governors of a Governing Body of a Voluntary Aided School, Federation or Sixth Form College (in England and Wales)
Codes of Conduct for Directors of a Single Academy Trust Company or a Multi Academy Trust Company (in England)
Codes of Conduct for Governors of a Local Governing Body within a Multi Academy Trust Company (in England)
These model codes of conduct are designed to preserve and develop the Catholic character of our schools and academies. Please download and complete the text boxes as appropriate.
Governing bodies and proprietors of academies are required to have in place various policies and other documents to satisfy their statutory duties and to assist them in fulfilling their statutory obligations.
The Department for Education (DfE) has produced extremely helpful non-statutory advice for governing bodies and school leaders entitled "Statutory Policies for Schools", which covers the legal requirements for maintained schools, maintained special schools, academies, sixth-form colleges, FE colleges with 16 to 19 provision and non-maintained special schools (amongst others). The advice sets out the type of policies and documents required, which types of schools must have such policies, the review period, the level of authority required for sign-off of the policy and the legislation which stipulates the requirement for that policy.
Catholic schools and academies are, additionally, required to use the CES model employment documents as mandated by the Bishops of England and Wales. This requirement is set out in the Bishops' Memorandum on Appointment of Teachers to Catholic Schools. As a vital part of their role as governors of a Catholic school, governing bodies must ensure that the CES models are adapted, where appropriate, consulted upon and then adopted and communicated to staff and any other interested parties. Employment documents can be found in the Recruitment section of the Education Service pages of the diocesan website.
Whilst many of the duties of the Clerk to Governors are the same as any other school, there are some significant differences and extra responsibilities for a Clerk at a Catholic school. In addition to other clerking duties, in a Catholic school the clerk is required to liaise with the Diocese regarding the appointment process of Foundation Governors. Specifically, as Clerk, you have an important part to play in making sure that the governing body’s work is well organised.
School Chaplains have a distinctive role in the life of a school and college community and are called to make a significant contribution to the faith journey of students, staff, governors, and the wider community.
The post of Chaplain is reserved for practising Catholics with the Bishop represented during the interview process. Headteachers should contact the Education Service before beginning the recruitment process so that dates can be agreed in good time. The following guidance documents aim to support Headteachers and Governors through the appointment process.