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School effectiveness

Terms of reference

Governing boards may use their powers to delegate functions and decisions to committees or individual governors. It is the overall board, however, that in all cases remains accountable in law and to Ofsted for the exercise of its functions. Terms of reference must be agreed by the full board, giving clear information about what has been delegated, to whom, and on what basis (a decision to be made and reported, or a recommendation to be made to the full board).

The level of delegated decision making given to a committee or an individual needs to be agreed by the full board. Full delegation (within legal requirements) is suggested within our terms of reference, but boards may wish to set different levels with the committee or lead governor/trustee making more recommendations and fewer decisions. Whatever is decided, make sure there is no duplication between the work of the committee/individual and the full board. All delegated decisions must be reported to the full board through the minutes from the committee or a report from the individual.

Terms of reference should be reviewed annually by the full board.

Model terms of reference are available for our subscribing schools covering the following areas:

Lead governor/trustee roles

  • Community, Staff and Parental Links lead governor/trustee
  • Curriculum lead governor/trustee
  • Finance lead governor/trustee
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) lead governor/trustee
  • Inclusion and SEND lead governor/trustee
  • Safeguarding lead governor/trustee
  • School improvement lead governor/trustee
  • Personnel lead governor/trustee
  • Premises, Security, Health and Safety lead governor/trustee
  • Pupil Premium lead governor/trustee


  • Action plan monitoring committee
  • Admissions committee
  • Appeals committee
  • Audit committee
  • Christian ethos committee
  • First (formal proceedings) committee
  • Governor-led pre-school committee
  • Headteacher appraisal panel
  • Joint governing board panel (formal proceedings)
  • Local Governing Body (in a multi-academy trust)
  • Model protocol for attending a meeting ‘virtually’
  • Performance and pay committee
  • Resources committee (including finance, personnel, premises, health, safety and security)
  • Teaching and learning committee (including curriculum, inclusion, SEND, school improvement, community, staff and parental links)

Subscriber content

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