When she first became a community governor at her local primary school, Daisy visited the school, at the headteacher's invitation. She met each teacher in his/her classroom and spoke to many of the pupils. She also attended an assembly and had the opportunity to talk with some of the parents. Now, a year or so later, the Chair has asked her to undertake a monitoring visit to the school, specifically to follow up an action point about access to IT facilities which arose as a result of the last Ofsted inspection. As she has an IT background and was party to the discussion about IT at the inspection feedback, she is not worried about her understanding of the task. However, as she sees this visit as something more formal than her earlier one, she is anxious to know how to conduct herself.
Daisy needs to remember that governors do not have right of access to the school and always visit, technically at least, at the headteacher's invitation. Her visit is however important if governors are to carry out their key task of monitoring and assessing the school's implementation of its post-inspection action plan. She needs to be very clear about her brief, having discussed it in advance with both the headteacher and the chair of governors and to seek approval about the timing and format of the visit. She needs to stick closely to the brief and not to pass comment on the quality of teaching provision or issues about the school's day to day management. Her role is that of critical friend, another pair of eyes to ascertain whether something may be going unnoticed by those immersed in the work. She needs, on this occasion, to give constructive verbal feedback at the end of the visit and to follow it up with a written report for both the headteacher and the governing body.
If they have not done so already, it is useful if governing bodies draw up a protocol for school visits so that all concerned are clear about their respective boundaries. A model policy and protocol for such visits is available on www. governornet.co.uk