Committees of the Board
Committee working is an effective tool in managing the increasing demands and workload expected of governing boards with many governing boards carrying out a lot of their business through them. It enables a smaller more strategic group of governors to discuss in further detail specific matters which have been delegated to them by the full governing board. Committee membership, terms of reference and delegation structures must be agreed at a full governing board meeting and changes to membership can also only be agreed at a full governing board meeting. It is recommended that committees be reviewed annually to ensure that they are fit for purpose and up to date.
Governors may be appointed to committees to utilise their own specific skills or because of their interest in the subject area. It is important to remember that all committee meetings must be clerked and managed in the same way as a governing board meeting i.e. agendas and minutes should be produced and circulated in a timely manner. Chairs of committees should be appointed by the governing board or alternatively this may be delegated to the individual committees. The Head Teacher cannot be appointed as clerk or chair of a committee. Whilst another governor may act as clerk to a committee meeting, it is highly recommended that an external person is employed to minute the meeting as it is often difficult to take detailed minutes whilst taking part in full discussion. The quorum for a committee meeting to take place is a minimum of three governors who are agreed members of that committee.
Associate members may be appointed by the governing board to committees with or without voting rights. Associate members are usually appointed in order to utilise their specific skills or expertise in a particular subject or area. Associate members are not governors but should be invited to attend full governing board meetings without voting rights. If associate members are given voting rights at committees it is worth noting that they cannot vote on any resolution concerning admissions, pupil discipline, election or appointment of governors or the budget and financial commitments of the governing board.
Decisions taken at committee meetings are determined by a majority vote of those governors and associate members present at the meeting. Committees must report back to the full governing board regularly through reports or minutes presented to them. It may be useful for the chair of the committee to briefly highlight any pertinent issues or specific points of action at the full governing board meeting.
Generally speaking there are two types of committees. Working committees dealing with matters such as finance, personnel, curriculum etc. and those statutory/standing committees that only meet when required relating to matters such as staff discipline and appeals, pupil discipline and complaints.
Academy Trusts may establish committees in the same way as maintained governing boards but as a minimum must have a finance / risk & audit committee. Academies may appoint other individuals to committees who are not governors with voting rights but the majority of members must be governors. There is no set quorum for academy committees; however, no vote can take place unless a majority of those present are governors. Academies will need to have procedures in place for managing staff recruitment, discipline and grievances.
Maintained Governing Board Delegation
The governing board may delegate most of its business to a committee, an individual governor or the head teacher; however, there are some matters which cannot be delegated and must only be considered by the full governing board.
The following functions may be delegated to a committee, but not to an individual:
- functions relating to the alteration, discontinuance or change of category of maintained schools
- functions relating to the approval of the first formal budget plan of the financial year
- functions relating to school discipline policies
- functions relating to the exclusion of pupils (except in an emergency when the chair has the power to exercise these functions)
- functions relating to admissions.
The governing board cannot delegate any functions relating to:
- the constitution of the governing board
- the appointment or removal of the chair, vice chair or clerk to governors
- the suspension of governors
- the delegation of functions
- the establishment of committees.
Any individual or committee to whom a function has been delegated should report back to the governing board in respect of any actions or decisions taken.