Strategic vs operational: practical examples

Governors and trustees set strategy and hold senior leaders to account – they don't get involved in the day-to-day running of the school or trust. Sometimes it's hard to walk this fine line, but our practical examples will help you clarify your role.

Last reviewed on 17 March 2023
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 5140
  1. Policies
  2. Pupil premium
  3. Budgets
  4. Teacher pay
  5. Staff surveys
  6. Parent complaints
  7. Subject or departmental improvement plans
  8. School newsletter
  9. Introducing split-year groups
  10. Changing the way homework is given
  11. Health and safety inspections
  12. Monitoring the single central record (SCR)
  13. Remote learning

These examples are illustrative

You won't come across all of them. They're meant to help you work out what is and isn't your role.

They'll also help you to:

  • Say no if you're asked to do something outside your strategic remit
  • Discuss it with your senior leaders if you're not consulted on something that is strategic



Pupil premium


Teacher pay

Staff surveys

Parent complaints

Subject or departmental improvement plans

School newsletter

Introducing split-year groups

Changing the way homework is given

Health and safety inspections

Monitoring the single central record (SCR)

Remote learning




Jackie Beard is a national leader of governance, advising governing boards in all aspects of their role. She also sits on an independent appeal panel for exclusions and admissions for a local authority.

Bill Dennison is chair of trustees at a large secondary school with single academy trust status. Previously, he was head of department at the education department of a Russell Group University.

Graeme Hornsby is an education consultant with significant experience of school business management at a senior level. He has particular expertise in strategic financial planning, human resources and governance.

Harry James is a national leader of governance. He is currently chair of governors of a primary school in London, and is part of the steering group for an academic research project looking at school accountability and stakeholder education.

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