Primary school governing boards are encouraged to appoint a Literacy Governor to take an interest in literacy in the school and to offer a source of support and challenge. The precise responsibilities of the Literacy Governor need to be agreed by the governing board and so will vary from school to school. This advice is designed to provide a framework for that role.
Why do we need a literacy governor?
The governing board is responsible for the strategic direction of the school, including the delivery of the National Curriculum, raising standards and setting targets. Raising standards of literacy is a key part of this responsibility. A nominated governor who takes a special interest in literacy can help to ensure that literacy issues remain high on the school’s agenda. S/he can provide an important link between the governing board, its committees and school staff.
What skills and qualities are needed?
- Good communication skills
- A willingness to provide a brief written report or report back verbally at meetings
- Enthusiasm and energy
- An appreciation of the role of the governing board
- A willingness to share ideas and good practice
What does the role involve?
Developing and maintaining an understanding of how Literacy is progressing within the school; provide support and challenge by:
- Having an understanding of current school policy and practice for teaching and learning of literacy
- Keeping informed about national developments
- Attending school INSET days on literacy
- Planning visits to observe literacy lessons and report back to governors
- Discussing the outcome of school visits with the Literacy Coordinator and the headteacher
- Meeting with the Literacy Coordinator on a termly basis to discuss progress and issues
- Discussing the outcomes of the school’s monitoring and evaluation of teaching and learning with the headteacher and the Literacy Coordinator
- Monitoring the school’s progress towards achieving the agreed targets
- Attending relevant governor training
- Supporting the school in encouraging and valuing reading and writing for pleasure – take an active role in supporting events such as book weeks, visiting authors, competitions, celebrations of pupils’ achievements.
Setting the strategic framework - champion the literacy strategy within the governing board
- Work with the headteacher and Literacy Coordinator in order to understand and support the whole school policy for the teaching and learning of literacy, for monitoring progress and for staff development.
- With the headteacher and the Literacy Coordinator, evaluate the implementation of the whole school policy and the working of the school’s Literacy policy each year
- Take an informed view of literacy target setting and support the school in setting challenging but realistic targets
- Agree with the governing board and the headteacher the indicators which should be reported on by the school to the governing board to demonstrate whether the policy is effective, and the timescale for that reporting
- Ensure that the school’s literacy action plan is linked to the School Development Plan and the budget setting process by working with the appropriate committees
- Discuss the budget allocated to English with the finance committee; ensure that funds are allocated each year within the school budget specifically to support Literacy, monitor and evaluate the use of these funds and other resources
Sharing information - Accountability
- With the headteacher and the Literacy Coordinator, report regularly to the governing board on the implementation of the literacy policy
- Support and promote the involvement of parents in the School’s literacy strategy and work with staff to ensure that parents are kept well informed
- Provide support and encouragement for staff with their literacy responsibilities
- Exchange good practice with other Literacy Governors
Making the most of school visits
Always remember that you are not acting as a teacher or an inspector, but as a source of support and challenge. If you are visiting a lesson, don’t forget the possible apprehension some teachers may feel if someone observes their lesson. You could offer to take part in the lesson, perhaps by working with a group or joining in a discussion. Always discuss with the teacher first and follow his or her lead.
Support for the Literacy Governor
It is important that the governing board both understands the role of the Literacy Governor and supports the Literacy Governor in carrying out that role. The governing board will need to:
- Take an informed interest in literacy issues
- Establish a strategic plan which sets challenging but realistic targets for improving standards in literacy
- Ensure that any School literacy action plan is taken into account in the School Development Plan and in the budget setting process
- Determine the arrangements for monitoring, evaluating and reviewing the policy
- Consider the impact of any literacy initiatives on the whole curriculum
- Ensure that school policies take account of the literacy policy
- Provide an opportunity for an outgoing Literacy Governor to pass on information and relevant paperwork
Advice and support
Department of Education
National Literacy Trust
National Association for the Teaching of English