What do the Governors do?


Although the Head Teacher manages the school from day to day, it is the governors, as a corporate body, who are legally responsible for the school and who work together to make decisions which are in the best interest of the children.  We are accountable to parents, the local community, and the local education authority for the performance of the school. We have four core functions:

  • to ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • to hold the Head Teacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils; and the performance management of staff and
  • to oversee the financial performance of the school and to ensure school’s money is well spent
  • to ensure the voices of stakeholders are heard


We work with the Head Teacher and staff to:

  • Establish the aims and policies of the school and monitor their effectiveness
  • Draw up the School Improvement Plan and monitor progress
  • Appoint staff
  • Prepare and set the budget and monitor the school finances

In practice this usually involves scrutiny and supervision of the Head Teacher’s recommendations. However all the above are ultimately the responsibility of the governors.  Our full governing body meetings take place at least once a term. We also have specific committees which meet regularly and/or as required monitoring staffing, finance, health and safety, pupil behaviour and safeguarding.  We plan how best to be a proactive presence.  We also meet as Governors to consider special or urgent business. All governors have a responsibility for particular areas within school life. This enables us to use our expertise in supporting the school, and if necessary to work more closely with staff. These special responsibilities include Safeguarding, Special Educational Needs (SEN), Premises and Early Years.  Governors keep up to date with on going training. There is certainly plenty to keep us occupied!


Portobello Primary School has four categories of governor: 
Co-opted governors are appointed by the Governing Body from people living or working in the locality who are perceived to have the school’s interests at heart.
Local Authority
The Local Authority nominates one governor to be considered for appointment by the Governing Body.
Staff governor are elected by staff.
Head Teacher – who reports to the governing body, is ex officio.
(Staff can also be appointed into the Co-opted category by the Governing Body – number of staff on Governing Body in total must not exceed 1/3 of membership).
 Parent Parent governors are elected by the parents.
  • “Governors represent those who elect them or nominate them.” We don’t. We are not mandated.
  • “Governors have individual authority.”  We don’t. We only have the collective authority of the governing body.
  • “Governors are responsible for the management of the school.”  Not true. Day to day management is the Head teacher’s responsibility, not the governors.


Updates from the Governing Body are published within the school newsletter periodically. Parents are welcome to contact any of us. You will see some of us – the parent governors in particular – more often than others in and around the school. However each of us is committed to the well-being of the children, staff and school, and we frequently work behind the scenes.


For the curious, and for anyone who might be interested in serving as a school governor, here is some idea of the scale of commitment. The Full Governing Body meets three times a year, once each term. There is often an additional meeting to agree a budget for the following year, and additional committee meetings as required.  All governors serve on at least one committee and many serve on more than one.  There are individual responsibilities which will require liaison with the school such as premises, library, SEN, and Health & Safety. All governors also try to fit in one half day per year visiting the school to observe an aspect of the school, on which they report to the Head Teacher. Governors are encouraged to attend events such as the Christmas Fair and Summer Fayre.

Though we wouldn’t pretend that there isn’t a good deal of commitment as a governor, working for the common good of Portobello Primary School can be a very rewarding voluntary service. Governor training is provided by the local authority Governor Support Service. New blood on the governing body is always welcome and the constitution tends to ensure that there is change.

There are other ways to volunteer of course: the Friends of Portobello (FOPs) Parental Involvement Committee (PICs) and Team Portobello are all a huge support to the school and they provide opportunities for parents to help in so many ways. Other parents and grandparents may help with activities such as reading support.

We are always eager to fill vacancies on the Governing Body with those who not only have the school’s best interests in mind but those who may be able to bring specific skills to our team, ensuring breadth of vision and expertise.

Finally we are looking at the way documents are displayed within the website to make them easier to locate but also look a little more interesting than a list of attachments.  Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.