A comparison of the governing of primary and secondary schools in England

Chris James*, Michael Connolly, Steve Brammer, Mike Fertig, Jane James, Jeff Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In England, governing bodies continue to be responsible for the conduct of publicly funded schools. This article compares the governing of publicly funded primary schools (for 5-11 year olds) and secondary schools (for 11-18 year olds). The research analysed policy documents and the governing of 16 primary and 14 secondary schools. The main governance mode for both primary schools and secondary schools is hierarchical and similar in nature, and the governing bodies of primary and secondary schools use broadly similar governing instruments. However, they differ in significant ways. In primary schools, governing is smaller in scale and less complex. Primary school governing is closer to the school and children, and the images held by governors of the system to be governed are better developed in primary schools. Functional knowledge was more useful in primary school governing, and the use of informal meetings as instruments of governance was more widespread in primary school governing. The findings and their implications need to be taken into account in the analysis of and policy making for school governing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-119
Number of pages16
JournalSchool Leadership and Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Governance
  • Governing
  • Management
  • Primary schools
  • Secondary schools


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