The second of the governing body’s three main roles is to act as a critical friend to the school: ‘Critical in the sense of its responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the school’s effectiveness, asking challenging questions and pressing for improvement’ (DFE/BIS/OFSTED 1995:2, our italics). It is worth a moment’s reflection to consider what the phrase ‘critical friend’ implies. A friend is trusted and fully understands the situation in which one finds oneself and what one is attempting to achieve in that context. From that basis of understanding, the critical friend is able to ask provocative and probing questions, provide data to be examined through another lens, and offer critique of a person’s work while being an advocate for the success of that work (Costa and Kallick 1993). Such a definition places considerable demands on both governors and staff. Trust is not easily achieved-it takes time to develop and the governors have to be prepared to commit the time to understand the context in which the teachers are working as well as what they are trying to achieve. There are very significant implications for the governor-teacher relationship and the knowledge that governors have of their schools if they are to be able to act as critical friends.