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20 key questions for governing bodies

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Last updated on 24 March 2017
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What are the 20 questions for governing bodies? The Key, the NGA and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Education Governance and Leadership developed a list of 20 key questions to help governors reflect on their practice. The questions, updated in 2015, are set out in this article and in a KeyDoc.

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  1. 1 Improving school governance
  2. 2 Governing board effectiveness
  3. 3 Vision, ethos and strategy
  4. 4 Effective accountability

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Improving school governance

In 2012, The Key, the National Governors’ Association (NGA), and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Education Governance and Leadership developed 20 key questions for governing bodies. The questions were then updated in 2015.

The updated questions are as set out below. They are also presented in the following KeyDoc, which you can download and print: 

In another article from The Key, we look at sources of evidence to use when answering the 20 questions.

Governing board effectiveness

Right skills: do we have the right skills on the governing board?

1. Have we completed a skills audit which informs the governor specification we use as the basis of governor appointment and interview?

Effectiveness: are we as effective as we could be?

2. How well do we understand our roles and responsibilities, including what it means to be strategic?

3. Do we have a professional clerk who provides legal advice and oversees the governing board’s induction and development needs?

4. Is the size, composition and committee structure of our governing board conducive to effective working?

5. How do we make use of good practice from across the country?

Key Insights - Our Blog

More from our blog

On our blog, Key insights, we take a closer look into the 20 key questions for governing bodies.

Role of the chair: does our chair show strong and effective leadership?

6. Do we carry out a regular 360° review of the chair’s performance and elect the chair each year?

7. Do we engage in good succession planning so that no governor serves for longer than 2 terms of office and the chair is replaced at least every 6 years?

8. Does the chair carry out an annual review of each governor’s contribution to the board’s performance?

Vision, ethos and strategy

Strategy: does the school have a clear vision and strategic priorities?

9. Does our vision look forward 3 to 5 years, and does it include what the children who have left the school will have achieved?

10. Have we agreed a strategy with priorities for achieving our vision with key performance indicators against which we can regularly monitor and review the strategy?

11. How effectively does our strategic planning cycle drive the governing board’s activities and agenda setting?

Engagement: are we properly engaged with our school community, the wider school sector and the outside world?

12. How well do we listen to, understand and respond to our pupils, parents and staff?

13. How do we make regular reports on the work of the governing board to our parents and local community?

14. What benefit does the school draw from collaboration with other schools and other sectors, locally and nationally?

Effective accountability

Accountability of the executive: do we hold the school leaders to account?

15. How well do we understand the school’s performance data (including in-year progress tracking data) so we can properly hold school leaders to account?

16. Do governors regularly visit the school to get to know it and monitor the implementation of the school strategy?

17. How well does our policy review schedule work and how do we ensure compliance?

18. Do we know how effective performance management of all staff is within the school?

19. Are our financial management systems robust so we can ensure best value for money?

Impact: are we having an impact on outcomes for pupils?

20. How much has the school improved over the last 3 years, and what has the governing board’s contribution been to this?

This article was updated in response to feedback from one of our members.

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