About Questions for Governors

Questions for governors

The questions in this framework can help governing bodies identify areas to celebrate or challenge in their schools, enabling them to work with their senior leaders to drive improvement. Governing bodies are increasingly assessed on how well they carry out their roles and responsibilities – unless a governing body is deemed outstanding by Ofsted, a school’s leadership and management cannot be judged outstanding. We hope that this framework will enable governors to perform at their best, exemplifying an approach which could benefit all curriculum areas, although the main focus is on science and maths education.

What are the questions?

We have identified over-arching question areas for primary and secondary schools that will help governors build up a rich picture of all aspects of their school.

Primary: Teaching; Assessment; Curriculum; Resources

Secondary: Teaching; Results; Choices; Facilities; Enrichment

Under each of these over-arching question areas are some more detailed questions with benchmarks to help senior leaders and governors see how their school compares nationally for different aspects of science and maths education. Questions are cross-referenced and you can dip into them in any order. It may be useful to look at one area at a time, depending on the priorities of your school.

Each question has information on:

  • why it is important
  • how you can measure your school against national benchmarks (it is important to note that these benchmarks show national averages, not necessarily ideal performance)
  • ideas for what a school might do to improve its performance – these include ideas for actions governors could take, and those for senior or subject leaders.

For downloadable versions of all questions, evidence, benchmarks and ideas for improvement click follow these links Primary Questions- Oct2015QUESTIONS FOR GOVERNORS Secondary_October 15

How to use these questions

We expect that each school will develop and use the questions in its own way, to suit its own situation and needs. One way you might like to use these questions is:

  1. decide as a governing body to look at the questions – you may choose to focus on particular areas or look at them as a whole
  2. identify a governor who will ask the questions – for example, a science, maths or curriculum link governor
  3. share the questions with the headteacher or science or maths subject leaders in advance of meeting with them or visiting the school
  4. collate the relevant data in response to the questions – most of this will be from the school leaders, and sometimes pupil surveys, but governors might also gather information from learning walks
  5. have a discussion between the governors and subject leaders, using the collated data and considering ideas for improvement
  6. report back to the governing body on key findings and areas to celebrate or improve, and identify next steps.


These questions have been produced by the Wellcome Trust in consultation with experts from scientific, mathematics and education communities, including the Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education, the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the Education Endowment Foundation, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Institute of Physics, the National Governors’ Association, the National Science Learning Centre, the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry and many other organisations. We aim for them to be updated as the school environment changes, and new opportunities for improvement arise.

We welcome feedback and ideas for improvement and will be continually updating content to reflect any changes.

This work builds upon the Framework for Governance [PDF] published by the Wellcome Trust in 2015. The Framework is a flexible guide to strategic planning, with guidance on how to set a strategic vision, a self-assessment tool and high-level performance indicators governors should use to monitor progress in their school.

Using our content

‘Questions for Governors’ is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence (CC BY 4.0), which means that the text can be adapted and republished without asking us for permission (so long as changes to the original is acknowledged).

The only conditions are:

  • ‘Questions for Governors’ must be attributed as the original author, with a link if republishing online, and the title of the document specified in the attribution.
  • The content must not be used in a misleading context.

Last updated August 2016