Governance

The governors act as our trustees and decide the best course for St Christopher School.

St Christopher School is an educational charity organised as a company limited by shares. The directors of the company, called Governors, are responsible for the management and control of the activities of the charity, namely the running of the School.

The governors act as trustees for the School and decide the best course for St Christopher School in the interests of current and future beneficiaries. They delegate (within agreed limits) the responsibility for the leadership and management of the School to the School's Head who reports to the Governors on a regular basis

Composition

Our Articles (of 1954) state "Unless and until the Company in General Meeting shall otherwise determine, the number of Governors shall be not less than three nor more than twelve, of whom two at least shall be actively engaged in educational work."

The Governors believe that the comparatively small size of the Governing Body ensures that it works effectively and efficiently. It does, however, depend upon Governors committing themselves fully to its activities and attending meetings regularly. The ideal size of the School's Governing Body is believed to be between 8 and 10 Governors.

The Governors should be a group of people who:

  • have a disinterested commitment to the School, being unpaid and, in the main, without children who are currently pupils
  • represent a range of skills and experiences, developed in different walks of life, enabling them to contribute ideas, to make judgments and to see the School's work in a wider context
  • take a close interest in the School but are able when necessary to take an objective and long term view.
  • understand and appreciate the ideals of the School

To maximise the experience and diversity in the School's governance, governors should ideally include both men and women, ethnic minorities and a range of ages. They should include at least one governor who has current, or relatively recent, experience of headship, a former member of staff, a current parent nominated by the Parents Circle, another who has good connections with the local community, another who has business/financial experience and one who has knowledge of health and social matters. There is always a Governor with specific responsibility for Safeguarding and they report on an annual basis to the full Board.

Governors' duties

The duties of the Governors are wide ranging but may be summarised as follows:

  • Responsibility for the aims and values of the School. This means ensuring that the School retains its uniqueness while, at the same time, adapting to meet changing circumstances
  • Responsibility for effective strategic planning and for approving and monitoring development plans
  • Responsibility for monitoring the School's performance, both academic and otherwise
  • Responsibility for appointing the Head and (in consultation with the Head) the Bursar and for setting their terms and remuneration and those of other members of the senior team
  • Responsibility for establishing a close relationship with the Head and providing the necessary guidance and support to enable the Head to perform the Head's duties effectively
  • Responsibility for the appraisal and performance management of the Head and of the Bursar
  • Responsibility for the financial well-being of the School, for setting budgets and monitoring income and expenditure, cash flow and investments
  • Responsibility for audit and risk management
  • Responsibility for effective estate management
  • Responsibility for ensuring that the School maintains its charitable status and fulfils its charitable objectives
  • Responsibility for the School's employment policies and their implementation
  • Responsibility for the health and safety of all those who are on the School's premises or who are engaged in school activities both on and off the campus.

Terms of Governors

The terms for Governors shall be 4 years for Governors proposed by the Parents Circle and for the former member of staff and shall be 5 years for all other Governors. All Governors' terms other than the Governor nominated by the Parents' Circle can be renewed without any limit on the number of renewals.

Invitations to meetings

The Bursar, who is Clerk to the Governors, attends all Governors' meetings.

The Head and Deputy Head also attend all meetings apart from withdrawing (like the Bursar) in relation to any matter where there is a personal conflict of interest. In addition, the Director of Pastoral System, the Director of Activities and the Head of the Junior School attend from time to time when the Governors discuss matters with which they are concerned. The Governors may also invite any person who is responsible for a particular matter to attend when it is being discussed.

Frequency of meetings

Governors will meet at least four times a year, twice in the autumn term and once in each of the other two terms and on such other occasions as they may agree. The dates and times of such meetings will be agreed by the Governors from time to time. During the course of the year the Governors should try and arrange, or be present at, gatherings of some kind where they can meet all members of the School community.

Sub committees

There are no standing sub-committees of the Governors. The Governors may, from time to time, establish sub-groups of the Governing Body if they think it is advantageous to do so. The terms and composition of such sub-groups would be determined at the time any was set up.

Individual Governors may be asked, from time to time, to take responsibility for specific matters in the School. The Governor nominated by the Parents Circle would be expected to be aware of matters concerning current parents and the former member of staff would be expected to be aware of issues affecting the staff. However, in both cases it is important that nothing is done by them to by pass or undermine the authority of the Head.

Carrying out duties

The Governing Body does not have its own resources to carry out its duties but instead ensures that it is supplied with the necessary materials in order to do so, by, for example, receiving high quality reporting by the appropriate persons, normally the Head and the Bursar. Various matters are considered on a regular basis and programmed into the Governors' meetings: for example, budgets and fee setting for the following year, agreement of accounts, pay reviews, occasionally strategic reviews, etc.

Arrangements are made for Governors to be fully informed about the School on their appointment. Governors are given information about possible training courses on a regular basis and are encouraged to attend appropriate ones.

Public benefit

The Governors conduct an annual Public Benefit Audit. This is reviewed and discussed by the Governors at a full meeting of the Governing Body. The most recent report can be downloaded below:

[INSERT REPORT PDF]

Practice and review

This summary reflects the Governors' current approach (agreed in April 2009) and is subject to review and possible change from time to time.