Writing in Governing Matters, the magazine of the National Governors Association (NGA), Clare Collins comments that the role of the vice-chair of a school’s board of governors often involves little more than waiting to step in when the chair is unavailable. She makes the following suggestions for how the role could involve much more.
Succession planning is important for long term stability of the board. If the vice-chair were the planned successor to the current chair, who should arguably have a fixed term of office, time in the role could be used actively to develop knowledge and capability in preparation for becoming the chair.
The vice-chair could lead the board’s management of its own performance management. This could make use of an approach explored by the NGA based on conversations with individual governors around three aspects. One is the commitment of time to things like meetings (how many have been attended), visits to school and training. The second concerns understanding about the role of a governor and how well the processes of governance are working. The third focuses on how effective the governor feels they have been and on how that effectiveness could be improved.
Finally Clare suggests that close teamwork between the chair and vice-chair could help to improve meetings of the board of governors. For example the chair could refer to the vice-chair at key points in discussion and could ask the vice-chair to sum up each major item.