Interview with the Chair of Governors—Adam Garfunkel

What does a Governing Board do?

Governors fulfil three core functions:

  • Ensuring the school has a clear vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • Holding the head teacher to account for the educational performance of the school
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school.

How does that work?

The role of being a Governor is often summarized as providing ‘support and challenge’ to the Head teacher and senior leadership team. So we advise and support the Head teacher on strategic questions but we are also duty-bound to ask her challenging questions and dig into performance and budget decisions until we are satisfied.

How are responsibilities split between the Governors and the Head?

In short, we have to be strategic but not operational. It is the Head teacher who oversees day-to-day workings of the school. The governors are the vision setters and strategic decision makers for the school.

What is the structure of your Governing Board?

We have a Full Governing Board and a Premises Committee. We don’t have any other committees but we do have some working groups for a set period of time. Governors also lead on certain areas and liaise closely with the relevant staff, for example Finance and Inclusion.

How often do you meet?

We have nine Full Governing Board (FGB) meetings a year. We also have four or five Premises Committee meetings that don’t include every governor. There is also work needed between meetings.

How much time does a Governor need to commit each month?

A governor will spend a few hours that add up to about a day a month on school business. For the chair, it is more like two days a month.

How many Governors are there at St Michael’s?

We have 12 governor positions at St Michael’s. That’s the minimum number for a school. We are a voluntary-aided school. That means we are state-funded but a foundation or trust – in our case the Church of England – contributes to building costs and has a say in how we are run.

The rules are that the foundation appoints a majority of the governors.

How does that work at St Michael’s?

So of our 12 governors, 7 are Foundation Governors.  They are appointed by Church bodies including the local parochial church council, the West of Haringey Deanery Synod and the London Diocesan Board of Schools, which is the organisation that runs CofE schools.

The Headteacher and the Vicar of St Michael’s are also governors because of their roles. There is also a staff member, a local authority member and two parent governors who are elected by the parents.

But you don’t represent the bodies that nominate you, right?

That’s correct. There is collective responsibility. So parent governors must not represent only those issues that are of concern to parents. We are all there to govern in the best interests of the children.

Do any governors have additional responsibilities?

Yes, Foundation Governors – they have an additional responsibility to safeguard the religious character of the school.

How can I get involved?

We have some openings coming up in some of the Church places and the next parent governor elections are in April 2019.

If you would like to know more about being a governor, please email Adam Garfunkel at

Adam Garfunkel – Chair of Governors