The Perfect (Ofsted) School Governor

By: Tim Bartlett


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 124 x 174mm
Pages : 216
ISBN : 9781781350904
Format: Hardback
Published: June 2013

Each of the 20,000 schools in the UK has a governing body who are an integral part of the school's major decision making processes, the results of which directly affect our children. For this reason it is essential that governors make clear and informed decisions in order to implement the best educational framework for young people.

This latest addition to the hugely successful Perfect series, The Perfect (Ofsted) School Governor written by a seasoned professional with 17 years of head teacher experience, aims to be the most conclusive, easy-to-read, education jargon-busting and essential guide for teachers, governors (new and old) and school boards alike. It covers everything a governor needs to be the best that they can be, including the history of the education system in England, preparation for Ofsted inspections and their impact, leadership and governance, handling of complaints, a checklist for effective governor meetings, guides to interpreting data correctly and much, much more!

Picture for author Tim Bartlett

Tim Bartlett

Tim is an Oxford graduate with over 25 years secondary teaching experience, 17 as a head teacher. He served as a primary school governor for 12 years and is now an expert trainer. As a treasurer and council member of the National Association for Primary Education, Tim knows exactly what it takes to be a great school governor and provide the best opportunities across all key stages.


  1. This is an excellent guide for all those “volunteers” who so willingly give up their time to work as school governors for no financial reward. Many Ofsted and Estyn inspection reports are very judgemental and demanding of governing body members, with the emphasis on effective monitoring to produce the “outstanding school”. Michael Wilshaw(2013) stated clearly that inspection teams will be very critical of governing bodies who, despite the “data dashboard”, still don't know their school well enough. This book provides school governors and head teachers with a handbook of vital information and advice on how to promote more effective practice and meet the demands of parents, carers and school inspection teams. Highly recommended for all schools.
  2. Tim Bartlett's new guide to all matters relating to governors and governance is a compact little book that is comprehensive, and to the newcomer, reassuring.

    Most governing bodies have some turnover every year, and governor induction can be a time consuming process. For busy heads and governing bodies it is often something that is put to the end of a long list and then drops off the end of the list completely. New governors pick up terminology and routines as they swim along with the current.

    How reassuring, therefore, to have this pocket guide to pass across the table before the first meeting.

    The book is divided into six sections and each deals with an important area of governance in a no-nonsense way. The government obsession with terminology is covered in the quick-start guide under -˜jargon busting', so does not clutter the main text. After that it is a bit of a rollercoaster of wisdom, experience, very useful tables and check-lists, and the obvious guide on how to tackle Ofsted.

    The strength of Tim Barlett's book is that you can stop the rollercoaster at any point, hop off, and consult the appendices. It is not supposed to be read in one sitting, and is of greater use when dipped into from time to time. It is a genuine strength of the way the book is put together that you can think of a problem that crops up for a governing body, leaf through, and quickly find some sound advice.

    A lot of the content can be found on the internet. However, if you try an intelligent internet search for some of the issues raised, there is such a glut of information that it is impossible to get a straight answer. To have key information at one's fingertips is a massive time-saver and leaves you with no doubt of the validity of your sources.

    Of particular strength is the section that tackles the appointment of a new head teacher. I get the impression that this may not have been part of the original text but has been added by popular demand. I may be wrong, but the weight of the HT appointments sections in the Times Ed. and other job papers in recent years points towards a big demand for clear thinking in this important task. The section of the book that covers this is just the kind of thing a Chair needs to help guide and make a good appointment.

    In a way, the great success of this book -” that it is so current -” may end up being its weakness. Education is changing so rapidly that any paper publication is out of date soon after it hits the desks of educators. I sincerely hope that to counter this, Mr Bartlett arranges for an annual update so that his vital book remains a sort of go-to bible for new governors. I am passing my copy on to our new governor as soon as I can, so that she gets the full benefit. I hope Mr Gove has not changed something fundamental before I get the opportunity!
  3. This is a book which should be in the hands of all school governors and head teachers. It would be invaluable to someone new to the role, but experienced governors and heads would find much here to guide best practice.

    Tim's experience as a head teacher and consultant shines through these pages. It is unpatronising and littered with practical advice together with nice touches of humour. The Quick Start Guide and Glossary together with the Appendices are very helpful, but the meat is in the book's six chapters. These cover strategic leadership, self-evaluation and policies, governors' visits to school, holding the head teacher and leadership team to account, Ofsted inspections and last but not least a guide to appointing a new head teacher.

    Each chapter starts with a summary of what it sets out to cover and then swiftly gets down to business. In words it is economical without being too truncated and is eminently, and probably best, suited to being read in bite sized chunks. It starts with clarity about the governing body's role in helping to set school vision. There are practical suggestions for activities throughout which would help chairs and head teachers to work with the governing body to build the team and strengthen the skills and confidence of the individual governor.

    The narrative is particularly strong on exemplars, providing suggested formats for a range of tasks from recording meetings to planning school visits. The emphasis on getting the right questions asked in the right way is a strength.

    However, this book is not just a collection of tips and suggestions: it leads and models good practice in a way that would help any governing body. It is equally applicable to primary and secondary phases and is set in the context of current models of accountability including the Ofsted framework.

    I enjoyed reviewing this book. It is written by an outstanding professional in his field and is bang up to date. It includes a brief historical context for those who need that. My only worry with books of this kind is how their shelf life is affected by the rapidly changing educational scene. The strength of this book is that the experience enshrined in it will make it relevant for a good number of years to all those concerned with supporting and challenging our schools to do their best in partnership with our children, young people and their families.
  4. Tim's book is a fantastic resource whether you are about to become a governor or have been involved in school governance for many years. It details what you want to know, what you should know and what you thought you knew but it turns out you didn't until now.

    The chapter introductions allow you to quickly find what you're looking for, the check boxes at the end of the chapters give you something tangible to take away and work with and, because of the amount of work put into preparing the book, it feels like you're getting the advice of many educationalists and leaders in one place.

    You'll refer to this book for years but the first step will be reading it cover to cover.

  5. This book has plenty for everyone. There is a “Quick-start guide” for new governors which gives an excellent introduction to the role. New governors will also find the chapter on school visits particularly useful. Equally, experienced governors will find plenty of thought-provoking material. A highlight for me is the chapter on holding the head teacher and leadership team to account. It has an excellent list of the headings under which judgements need to be reported and suggestions for questions governors can ask. The chapter on Ofsted has a very useful “Top Ten Tips” for helping the school, and the chapter on appointing a new head is a “must read” for governors facing this task. I can warmly recommend this book to any governor, regardless of experience. If you buy this book I can guarantee you will use it!

  6. This excellent book will support all governors to review their practices and improve their performance. It will demystify the jargon for new governors and enable governing bodies to strengthen their important role in challenging and supporting the leadership of the school.

    It provides excellent advice on preparing for important events in the life of any school such as appointing a new head teacher and Ofsted inspections.

  7. I am delighted Tim has provided us with this brilliant Little Book: it's apt for a friend who is modest and sincere. But don't be fooled... This book is mighty big in experience and wisdom - and at the heart - between each invaluable line of practical advice, you can be sure the words come from a practitioner who knows his stuff, who can be trusted unequivocally; a friend who puts the child (or learner) first, always. I am ever glad to have him by my side - and now in pocket-size too!

  8. As a publisher and a School Governor in a local primary school, I can highly recommend this book to all school Governors. This is a welcome addition to the Perfect Series and an excellent and useful read - full of practical advice and governance oversight.

    All school governors should have their own copy.

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