St Mary’s governing body consists of 12 governors. There are two parent governors (elected by the parents of the school), one community governor (a member of the local community appointed by the governing body), seven foundation governors (practising Catholics who have been appointed by the diocese), the head teacher and one staff governor. The governors of St Mary’s have also appointed two associate member governors – this is a person that sits on the governing body as they have an area of expertise that will assist the governors in their duties, but is not a voting governor.
The governors are given administrative support in their role by the clerk, who also provides advice on governance, constitutional and procedural matters and ensures that the governing body is properly constituted, while managing information in accordance with legal requirements (minutes of meetings, school policies, etc.)
What to do if you are interested in becoming a governor
If you are interested in becoming a governor of St Mary’s you should contact the clerk to the governors by telephoning the school office or by email using the form at the bottom of this page.
How St Mary’s Governing Body Works within CAST Multi Academy Trust
Plymouth CAST is a single company comprising 36 Catholic schools across Cornwall, Devon and Dorset that fall within the Plymouth Diocese of which St Mary’s is one. In legal terms, the Board of Directors of the company is ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in these schools but high levels of autonomy are devolved to the ‘Local Governing Body’ (LGB) of each school. It is the expectation that local governors have a real sense of responsibility and stewardship for their school as well as towards the network of schools.
As a single company, there are certain things – for example employment terms and conditions – that have to be consistent from school to school. Also it is much easier to formulate statutory polices centrally rather than every school having to develop its own version. Also, there are times when strategic decisions need to be taken from a network perspective rather than from the perspective of a single school or a group of schools. On such occasions, it is the Board of Directors that acts on behalf of the network.
The Plymouth CAST principle of ‘subsidiarity’, taken from Catholic social teaching, means that, all things being equal, decisions should be taken by those closest to where the decision in question will impact. Thus the LGBs retain responsibility for all aspects of their school. Of course this is within the context of the overall policy framework of the Multi Academy Trust (MAT) but it is not normal practice for the Board, CEO, Area Advisers, Finance Officers etc. to direct a LGB or for the LGB to need permission from these parties for day-to-day decision-making or overall school strategy. Although these and other officers are there to support LGBs wherever appropriate and there are agreed network processes and protocols that need to be respected by all schools. For example, the accounting and budgeting framework is set by the Board but it is for each LGB to set its own annual budget in accordance with its own priorities.
The Scheme of Delegation explains the ways in which the Directors fulfil their responsibilities for the leadership and management of the Academy, the respective roles and responsibilities of the Directors and the members of the Local Governing Body and their commitments to each other to ensure the success of the Academy. The Plymouth CAST scheme of delegation is on the Plymouth CAST website.
The governing body maintains a record of attendance at meetings: you can view ours here.
Governors are required to declare any business or financial interests. You can view their declarations for 2018-2019 here. Those for 2017-18 are here. None of our governors sits on another governing body.
The governors of St Mary’s and their roles/areas of responsibility are shown below. You can learn more about our governors on this page.
How to Contact the Governors
Any member of the governing body can be contacted through the school office or you can email the clerk to the governors using the form at the bottom of this page.
Meetings of the Governing Body
The main governing body meets once every half-term. St Mary’s school governors have an important part to play in raising school standards and are judged by Ofsted during any school inspection to assess how well they are carrying out this role. The governing body is key to the effectiveness of a school and is responsible for ensuring that it is run to promote pupil achievement and welfare. Its duties include:
- setting strategic direction, policies and objectives
- approving and monitoring the school budget
- monitoring and evaluating the progress the school is making towards the achievement of its aims and objectives
- appointing, challenging and supporting the head teacher (being a critical friend)
- ensuring the pupils are safe and secure
In order to monitor school progress and standards, governors need to refer to many different documents. These include reports such as the SEF (School Evaluation Form – a continuous self-assessment of how the school evaluates its performance), the School Development Plan (the strategic plan revised annually covering the long term vision, medium and short term objectives and specific targets that relate to the school improvement), school performance data (issued in the autumn through a system known as RAISE -Reporting and Analysis for Improvement through School self-Evaluation).
Some of the work of the governing body takes place through committees. We currently have three main committees which meet regularly once a term:
- Finance, chaired by Emma Fitzgerald
- Health and Safety, chaired by John Lejeune
- Curriculum and Data, chaired by Mrs Maeve Baker
We have further committees dealing with Admissions to the School, Complaints, Discipline and Grievances for Staff and Pupils etc, a Pay Review Committee and Head Teacher performance appraisal. Governors on these committees have completed the necessary specialised training to do so. The Terms of Reference for these committees are here.
Each governor at St. Mary’s is given the responsibility to oversee a particular curriculum subject and is required to present an annual report to the governing body on how effectively the subject is taught at St. Mary’s, focusing on strengths and weaknesses, in order make recommendations for improving standards. Governors meet with the teacher assigned as subject leader to discuss the above and may also conduct pupil interviews, go on a “learning walk” through the school or observe lessons in order to provide a detailed report.
As we are part of the Plymouth Cast Multi Academy Trust, our chair of governors attends area forums thus acting as an added liaison between the governing body and the central board.
Governors also attend training sessions run by Dorset Governor Services Team, so that they are able to carry out their roles more effectively.
Being a governor as part of the St. Mary’s school community is a rewarding and fulfilling experience. As well as the duties described above, St. Mary’s governors take every opportunity to attend school events such as plays, sports day, prize giving etc. so that they are also a visible presence for the children.
Contact the Clerk to the Governors:
this page was updated on 10 October 2018