Governance roles

The role of governing boards* is to take responsibility for:

  1. planning
  2. the quality of teaching and learning
  3. financial health
  4. human resources management and development.

There are implications for the planning and delivery of the GCSE maths and English agenda under each of these headings, which all governing boards must address. The board should expect a plan to be proposed (by the principal, executive director or service leader) and subsequently agreed by the board which addresses these themes. The plan will include targets and milestones, and the reporting arrangements to the governing board will be explained i.e. a regular governing board report or a regular report to a curriculum and learning committee or similar. The report will address financial implications and relevant human resources themes. Thus, the governing board approves the plan and makes arrangements for its effective monitoring.

This short video [12:03] shows a conversation between Ron Hill (Governance Adviser, Governance Researcher and experienced Clerk to the Corporation) and David Crosby (Vice Chair and Chair of Hugh Baird College’s Quality and Standards Committee).

Ron and David

David and Ron explore the answers to seven questions which governors need to consider for English and maths. Ron shares practical tips, insights and specific advice for governors gained from years of working and researching the field of college governance.

1. What is current practice like for English and maths in colleges?
2. In relation to English, and maths, what information should governors have?
3. How can governors scrutinise the delivery model to ensure that it is supporting learner achievement?
4. What things would you expect to see in a high level, dispassionate report?
5. What milestones should governors set to monitor progress during the course of the year?
6. What systems are in place to support those milestones and provide governors with assurance that the information they are receiving is complete and robust?
7. How should governors monitor the risks associated with the maths and English agenda and its impact on the College?

Ron ends the video with a call for action to governors and identifies 5 actions they can take right now.

  • Check the systems that are going to feed your reporting
  • Review the reporting style
  • Have a clear sense of the milestones** you are expecting to be reporting to you
  • Form a risk register
  • Develop an active and positive relationship with the senior leader responsible for English and maths

**Simple milestones might include:-

  • production of risk register for GCSE English and GCSE Maths
  • regular check that the identified risks are the right risks
  • regular review of risk register mitigations – Are they working? Are they sufficient?


  • monitoring of targets for learner attendance and retention
  • staff profile and expertise targets
  • staff training and development targets
  • learner progress reporting


It is helpful to be mindful of learners’ perceptions when undertaking governance roles. In these audio clips two learners from a training provider talk about how confident they are of achieving GCSE maths and English grades A* – C:

*This term includes governors, trustees, directors and councillors and covers the complex range of governance arrangements in place for the further education and skills sector in FE, ITP and ACL providers.