Governance and Management
The school governing body provides the opportunity for the parents to be participants and partners in the successful running of the school. Governance grants to parents certain governance rights and a meaningful say in the nature of the schools attended by their children. Governing bodies have the right to sit in council, formulate policies and even levy ‘taxes’ in the form of school fees. The critical rights to be granted to governors include: the setting of policies in fields like admissions, language, religion and finance; governance authority over matters such as the use of school fees through the budgeting process, the employment of additional staff, the physical infrastructure of the school, the addition or removal of subjects, the extra-mural curriculum including what sports should be offered, school uniform and school branding and the learner and educator codes of conduct.
The ability of a governing body to work together for the good of the school depends essentially on trust and an understanding of common purpose. It relies on good, effective working relationships with the headmaster, staff, parents, the Department of Education, and other relevant agencies and the community. However, the school itself is a ‘juristic person’. This means that the school is a legal body that exists independently of the members of the Department of Education, the School Governing Body, the Headmaster, the buildings, learners and parents. The school has rights and duties in its own name just as a natural person has. Because the school is a juristic person, it may buy, sell, hire or own property, enter into contracts, make investments, and sue or be sued. All these actions of the school are, of course, taken by the SGB – just as a company acts through its directors.
The Governing Body consists of elected parent members, educators and non-educator members, as well as the Headmaster who is an ex-officio member of the SGB. The term of office of an SGB is three years. All members have equal standing although only elected members and the Headmaster have voting rights.
The big question is: Who is responsible for the school in the end? Ultimately, the Headmaster is accountable for the school as the Department of Education’s representative. Governors are responsible for the governance of the School, not its management. The day-to-day running of the school is in the hands of the School Management Team. Individual SGB members have no authority independently; they may act only in committee. It is important that parents appreciate that governors are not educational professionals, and they should not approach governors to draw them into school management issues, personal issues, issues relating their child or in discussion around the emotional issues that abound in schools.