'Critical Friend' by John Cox is a beginners' guide to the work of school governors, with particular reference to church schools.
It's a beginners guide in the sense that it assumes no prior knowledge or experience in education or school governance but that's not to say that experienced governors won't be prompted to review their own work after considering the topics and questions Cox highlights in this concise book.
The first few chapters give a good overview of the role and responsibilities of any school governor, including a guide to the current context in which church schools operate with reference to the significant historic role of the Church in education prior to the state education taking off in 1870.
The central chapters highlight topics that foundation governors will want to give considerable attention to. 'Distinctive and inclusive' considers the importance of church schools in society and steers the reader towards some of the distinctive values that a church school might be known for. 'Religious education and collective worship' explains the legal requirements for religious education and makes the point that "while good RE teaching and learning will look very similar in all schools...it should be expected that in a church school RE will be seen not simply as another curriculum subject but will reflect the Christian character of the school as a whole...".
The final few chapters are a mixture of short guides, checklists and thoughts on topics including: 'School vision statement and ethos', 'Policies and other documents', 'Chair of Governors', 'Human Resource issues', 'Inspections: Ofsted and SIAMS', and 'The small school'. The appendices include slide outlines for 4 governor training presentations, as well as a number of checklists and a list of useful websites.
For new governors, particularly but not exclusively those in church schools, A Critical Friend provides a good overview of the role and responsibilities involved. For foundation governors in church schools it will prompt further consideration of topics that are particularly important if church schools are to lead in education and contribution to society.
April 2nd, 2013 - Posted & Written by G M