Governor Visits to Classrooms

Rationale
In order to develop governors understanding of the school, there is an expectation that governors will need to be able to visit. These visits enable governors to fulfil their statutory responsibility, increasing the governing body’s first-hand knowledge and helping to inform their strategic decision making. While visits to the school by governors can be useful and informative, they do not replace professional inspection or the monitoring and evaluation carried out by the Headteacher.
Governor monitoring can take several forms including pupil interviews, meeting with subject leaders, walking around the school or entering classrooms. The purpose of this document is to ensure that governors have clear protocols to guide them. These protocols pay regard to the professional role that teachers and teaching assistants undertake.
The governing body should plan visits that monitor & evaluate the objectives within the School Improvement Plan and each visit should have a clear purpose.
Annual programme of visits
A programme of governor visits should be planned and spread evenly across the school year in consultation with the head teacher and the appropriate member of staff who is responsible for the area being monitored/visited.
The head teacher should make sure that no individual teacher or teaching assistant is overburdened with observation, ensuring that the number of visits is reasonable and agreed in advance.
Purposes of governor visits
Visits may take place in a formal or informal capacity. It is vital that everyone is clear about the capacity in which they are visiting and not to confuse the role. There may be occasions when governors visit the school but they are not acting in their formal governor role. Examples include:
  • To provide support at a school event
  • To help in a class
  • To speak to a teacher in relation to their own child
  • Attend a school function or educational visit.
The overriding purpose of a formal governor visit is to gather evidence. Where visits by governors are undertaken, the outcomes should be used for whole school evaluation purposes but must not be used to make judgements about the competence of individual teachers/ teaching assistants. For example, we should never see/hear “it was a good lesson”.
While notes may be taken about the specific agreed focus (Appendix 1), there should be no written notes about an individual teacher or teaching assistant. The written record of the visit should share generalised observations and outcomes around the agreed focus. No individual member of staff should be identifiable in the written record of the visit.
What governor classroom visits are …
  • To recognise and celebrate success
  • To develop relationships with the staff
  • To get to know the children
  • To recognise different teaching styles
  • To understand the environment in which teachers teach
  • To monitor policies in action
  •  To inform decision making
  • To find out what resources are needed and prioritise them
  •  To ensure governors understand the reality of the classroom
  • To understand better the governors’ roles and responsibilities
  • To have an opportunity to reflect on practice through discussion
  • Monitoring and review of school’s governor visit programme
The school’s governor visit programme should be monitored and reviewed annually. Governors should review
  • whether the visits are achieving the potential benefits they anticipated
  • whether there have been any unexpected benefits
  • the ways in which the practice can be further improved
Preparing for a governor visit (classroom or Subject Manager)
Governors should
  • Check the agreed school policy for governors’ visits
  • Clarify the purpose of the visit with the headteacher
  • Discuss an agenda with the head teacher and or subject manager well in advance.
  • Make sure that the date and time chosen is suitable
  • Ask how they would like governors to participate during the visit.
  • Be clear beforehand exactly what you are looking for.
  • Prepare any specific questions and submit to staff in advance.
Protocols for a classroom visit
During the visit governors should:
  • Remember they are making the visit on behalf of the governing body.
  • Be punctual.
  • Keep to the agreed timetable but be flexible.
  • Decide with the teacher how they will be introduced to the class and what their role in the classroom will be.
  • Get involved with the children.
  • Remember it is a visit not an inspection.
  • Observe discretely.
  • Avoid distracting the teacher during the lesson from his/her work but be prepared to talk and show interest.
  • Be courteous and friendly.
  • Not lose sight of the purpose of your visit.
  • Listen to staff and pupils.
After the governor classroom visit governors should:
  • Discuss what they have observed with the teacher or subject co-ordinator.
  •  Clarify any issue they are unclear about.
  • Thank the teacher for supporting them in their role as a governor.
  • Be open, honest and positive.
  • Complete Governor Visit Report as soon as possible after the observation while it is still fresh in the mind and ideally whilst still in the school.
  • Submit their report to the head teacher and any staff involved.
  • Reflect on how and whether the visit has helped the governing body fulfil its duties
  • File their report in the Governor Visits File in the Headteacher’s Office.
  • Provide verbal feedback of the visit at the next committee meeting.