Governing Body Self-Evaluation: Simple to complete, collate, and use to plan

The DfE 2020 Governance Handbook said that it is essential for governing bodies to self-evaluate. Most boards do an annual audit to highlight strengths and areas for development.

This is often done in autumn term and there are a several good tools for a governing body audit:

Shows options for Governing Body Self-Evaluation

These options are useful if:

However, they have a downside, put simply:

Most governing bodies need something that is focused and quick. Something that looks to the future, and makes brief reference to COVID’s longer term effects on some children and young people.

Our governing body audit tool does just that: a short audit of strengths and areas for development.

Scroll down to download it free in Word or Pdf.

At-a-Glance: Governing Body Self-Evaluation

Governing body self-evaluation page one.
Governing body self-evaluation page two.

Free Download for your School or Academy

Top Tips for Governing Body Self-Evaluation

Before you start, think about what might prevent you from being successful in this task. Assuming that it does not need to be the Chair or Vice Chair who leads this, the most common barriers to successful self-evaluation are:

  1. You are swamped with information.
  2. They take ages to collate.
  3. You have to nag some governors to complete it.

Tips to overcome “You are swamped with information”

  1. Avoid audits with 109 questions.

Tips to overcome “They Take ages to collate”

  1. Avoid audits with 109 questions.
  2. If using our self-evaluation, use a blank copy of the form to collate responses.

Tips to overcome “I’m still waiting for responses.”

If you meet face-to-face, give out paper copies at the start of a meeting and allow the first few minutes to complete it. Collect them in there and then.

Do not let anyone leave until they have given you their audit. A hostage situation? Yes. Effective? Also yes.

If you meet online and your next in-person is not for some time, you will need to use email – but still bring it up at you online Governors’ meeting. Follow these three steps.

3 Steps to doing your Governing Body Self-Evaluation remotely.
Pages of a calendar.

It’s friendlier to nag before the deadline than after. Helpfully, Gmail and Outlook let you schedule email so you don’t forget. This is easy and you can find how to schedule by a simple Google search.

If you still haven’t got 100% of responses, crack on anyway. When you report, give a list of governors who you got responses from – this helps show the proportion of replies from parents, staff or other governors.

Draft your Targets

When collating responses, group comments around emerging themes (e.g. finance, English, Getting evidence from a wider range of sources). This will help your GB to process the summary but will also help you plan your next steps. Don’t worry if:

A short example of this collation is here.

You could use these themes, plus inspection reports, pupil exam/test results and external feedback such as advisor reports to propose a small number of targets for the governing body.

Is “Recruit more Governors?” a target?

Aim for targets to link to the three core roles of governors: Beware of a target to “Recruit more governors”.

If you have a large hole in your budget, “Recruit a governor with financial expertise” might be ok (if you have this as a skills gap). However, a stronger target would be “The GB will effectively support and challenge school leaders to return the budget to a balanced position.”

Any targets might be broken down into smaller steps. When you are ready to look as specific actions, here’s a worked example for this safeguarding target:

“We will have outstanding safeguarding knowledge and use it to effectively hold school leaders to account.”

You don’t have to have targets. It’s up to you and your board. If you haven’t any targets, feed back to the board anyway. The alternative is that this drifts into a new term and, before you know it, a third of the year has gone.

Feedback your Governing Body Self-Evaluation

You are now ready to feedback to the rest of the team on the Governing Body Self Evaluation. Include any proposed targets and listen to any feedback.

Typically, the Chair or Vice Chair leads on developing any action plans, but it could be anybody: Leadership comes in many forms.

Aim to mention it when the opportunity arises. For example “It’s really good to see governors in school more – that came up as a weakness in the audit. So it’s good to see that we’re tackling our own development areas.”

Finally, redo your governing body self-evaluation in 11 months – then you can see the progress you’ve made.

Where can I get more advice or support?

Other Interesting reads

  • Aaron King, Director

    With over 20 years experience of working with children & young people in both mainstream and SEND settings, Aaron King is the driving force behind 9000lives.

    Aaron has written for the TES, including in the Leadership & Governance sections. He has also been a school governor for around 15 years.

  • Aaron King

    Aaron King Director

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