Brief Introduction to the Governance of Wellington College China Schools
Wellington College China (WCC) schools currently have fifteen governors in total.
Each school has five board members, drawn down from the total fifteen mentioned above. For WCC International Schools, the governors are jointly appointed by Wellington College China and Wellington College in the UK, whereas Huili School governors are solely appointed by Wellington College China. People with the expertise and skills required to support the colleges in operating to the highest standards across all functions are selected. Searches take place across the Wellington community and networks for potential members with that sought-after expertise and a willingness to contribute. Currently, the WCC Board has British and Chinese educators, a legal expert, finance experts, a tax expert, a marketing expert and several entrepreneurs who understand how to operate in China. Outside the board meeting cycles, the WCC governors are always available to provide advice and support in their areas of expertise, which all Wellington College China schools and colleges can access.
As mentioned above, a subset of five members form each school’s governing body, known as the School Affairs Board (SAB). This is the legal board for each school or college, where key strategic decisions are approved. The SAB meets three times a year, in November, April and June and is attended by the Master, Second Master/ Principal and Bursar, along with the five SAB members who have the legal voting rights.
Each college’s SAB is supported by three sub-committees, which are the forums for more detailed discussions on focused topics. This is also where external advisors are invited to attend for support where needed (for example, facilities management experts).
The 3 sub committees meet prior to each of the SAB meetings, in the order listed above. Educational needs of the college always come first: the priorities for educational development are determined in the academic sub-com which is followed by the facilities and services sub-com where provision to meet the educational outcomes is decided, before finally feeding into the finance and HR sub-com to inform and plan the budget. The recommendations and meeting minutes of the three sub-committee meetings are then submitted to the SAB meetings.
The college budgeting process and timeline is designed to support each college’s strategic planning and fits into the SAB meeting cycles. All Wellington College China schools and colleges are not-for-profit organisations. Financial management is driven by educational quality. Thus, any surpluses generated are invested back into the schools and colleges and education research.
Wellington College China governance undergoes an annual evaluation process to examine the effectiveness of its strategic leadership. This is done through self-assessment by all governors, collecting feedback from school leaders, as well as working with external consultants to compare ourselves with the most effective school governance worldwide. The Board works with an experienced UK school governance specialist who supported the development of the current structure and provides ongoing training and support to all the governors. This continuous self-improvement process helps to keep the board professional and adaptable to each school’s, and the group’s, growing needs.
The role of a governor is to be a ‘critical friend’ to the school leaders. ‘Critical’ in order to continually strive to raise the bar and hold the leaders accountable to deliver ever higher standards. ‘Friendly’ because the role is supportive as we work towards achieving a mutually shared vision.