Working well as a board

Ko te mahi tahi hei poari

To work efficiently and effectively, you need to understand the principles of effective governance and have a commitment to working constructively together and in partnership with the principal. There’s plenty of information available to help.

Your responsibilities as a board

In most cases, boards are responsible for organisational outcomes, and principals are responsible for managing the organisational processes for achieving those outcomes. 

What you need to know about effective governance

According to the Ministry of Education, there are eight principles of good governance relevant to all school boards:

  • Every board is there to meet the needs of key stakeholders.
  • Boards govern on behalf of all stakeholders.
  • Boards decide how they will govern.
  • The main responsibility of boards is the future of the school and improving student achievement.
  • Boards are ‘hands-off’ and mainly make policy decisions.
  • Boards make collective decisions and speak with one voice.
  • Boards monitor performance by reference to policy.
  • The board and the principal lead together.


Why focusing on the board culture is a good idea

Having a healthy team culture in place is a good way to avoid any loss of trust or serious employment-related action that can arise from long-term conflict. There are a number of things a board can do, including having policies and procedures in place that make it clear what behaviours are expected of all board members. A strategic plan with a clear agreed-upon direction for the school can help. Setting aside a budget for governance training can too. Be clear on roles and responsibilities. Take time out to build a strong, cohesive team. Social functions that help board members relax and come together informally can be really useful.


What to do if a conflict arises

Conflict is a natural part of people working together, and it is much better for everyone to resolve issues early rather than let them escalate. There is plenty you can do as board members to ensure this happens. Watch out for behaviours like continued split votes, inflexible bias, defensiveness or confused lengthy board meetings that are emotional and highly charged with tension. Act quickly to resolve any issues. If you can’t, it’s a good idea to bring in a third party to mediate or help the board through conflict or difficult decisions. And, remember, you can always contact NZSTA for advice and support at any time.


How the policy framework fits with the principles

A board’s policy framework effectively turns these eight governance principles into practice by creating guiding statements of intent and the rules and boundaries that give your board direction. That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a copy of your policy framework handy.

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