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Chair Ros Coffey

Performance managing a head is often a daunting task for governors. Pooky Hesmondhalgh and Ros Coffey, chairs for schools in Croydon and Tower Hamlets, give us their advice.

Get training: if you can’t get formal training from your Local Authority, at least read the guidance on teachernet.

Become informed: it sounds obvious, but make time to visit the school in the course of a normal day and talk to the staff.

Maintain continuity: make sure at least one member of the current panel was present when last year’s targets were set.

Take the wide view: set targets that combine the academic, the pastoral and the personal – it ensures a better overall performance. Perhaps ask a head to work half a day from home to catch up on paperwork, or to focus on how to better manage their deputy.

Define the process and be specific: ensure all targets are directly measurable and decide how and when progress will be measured to avoid a mess at the end of the year deciding whether they’ve been met or not.

Review: hold regular reviews and tackle barriers to progress early on. Amend objectives if things change and they are no longer attainable.

Don’t be afraid: ask for more evidence or further explanation at any point when assessing progress - it doesn’t benefit anyone if you don’t challenge the head early on something which later proves to be an issue.

Keep a senior governor in reserve: make sure there is a senior governor to chair the Appeal Panel in case of dispute. Remember the chair of the Performance Review Panel can’t perform both roles!

Be honest: try to have an open and honest dialogue with the head so everyone knows what is expected of each other. This way any problems can be dealt with and you can enjoy celebrating success and achievement together.