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How much time should I be spending on policies?

Suggested Approach to Policies

When I am advising Governing Boards one of the questions I am constantly asked is “What should our approach to policies be”? This comes from the fact that if you are not careful Governors can spend a disproportionate amount of time reviewing policies. It was brought home to me several years ago when as Chair of the Personnel Committee I was going through the policies for approval at the next committee meeting and realised that there were 175 pages across 4 new/revised policies that I had to read. My view was that this was not the best use of my time nor was it what I signed up to. The more I examined policies the clearer it became that many of them provided guidance around procedures and ensured consistency of approach within school. I came across a ‘Dog Policy’ and an ‘IT Policy’ among other non-statutory ones. So was this strategic? My view was that much of it lay in the ‘operational’ area. I therefore went away and drew up my 10 Top Tips around policies. I hope you find them useful. 

1.       A Governor's role is to ensure that statutory policies are in place, have been approved by the GB and are being implemented correctly.

2.       Other policies may be recommended as ‘Good Practice’ but do not have to be ‘signed off’ by the GB. These may be better described as ‘Operational Guidance Notes’.

3.       It is not the Governors' role to plan, formulate and write policies.

4.       For policies to be effective it is important that the Head/Principal/SLT and GB work in partnership.

5.       It is good practice to involve all in the school who will be affected by the policy/guidance note so they are less likely to feel that it is being imposed. By doing this policies and guidance notes are much more likely to be effective.

6.       There needs to be a clear record of when policies are approved and by whom (committee) and when they are due for review. 

7.       If delegated, the decision must be reported to the GB.

8.       SLT will own the responsibility of policies (new or updated) and their suitability for practical use in school.

9.       SLT will report to Governors as to:

            a. What is the impact on the school

            b.  Is there anything significant Governors should be aware of?

            c.   Is there any reason why Governors shouldn’t adopt it?

10.   Governors need to ensure that policies have been adapted, if necessary, to fit the circumstances of their particular school.

This should then ensure that those who have to work within policy guidelines are comfortable with their content. It will also relieve Governors of a considerable time burden.

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