About school governors
What school governors do
School governors work closely with the headteacher and other members of school staff.
The headteacher is responsible for the day to day running of the school and all operational matters. The school’s governors have a strategic role, but hold the headteacher to account for how they run the school.
School governors have 3 core strategic functions:
Making sure there is clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff.
Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.
In practice this involves attending meetings of the full governing body and its committees, asking questions and visiting the school. You may get involved in:
- headteacher performance management and recruitment
- analysis of performance data
- approval of policies
- admissions (not all schools)
- school improvement matters such as the quality of teaching and raising attainment
- making sure that the needs of children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) are met
School governors need to:
- get to know the school
- attend meetings regularly
- offer time and commitment
- find out as much as possible about the community served by the school
Most governors are appointed to serve for 4 years, but in some schools terms of office may be shorter. However, you can resign at any time. When your term of office ends, you may be eligible to serve for a further term.
Any individual can make an application to become a school governor but you must sign the nomination form to indicate that you are aware of the responsibilities of becoming a school governor and are willing to serve.
There are no formal qualifications required. However, governors’ skills and expertise contribute to the effectiveness of the governing body.
Most people have some skills to offer and a commitment to the education and future of young people is essential.
To be eligible to serve as a school governor applicants must:
- be aged 18 or over
- complete an application for Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
- sign a declaration form
Being a governor
If you are thinking about becoming a governor, please note that:
- the work is voluntary, takes enthusiasm and some of your spare time
- you don’t have to know everything from the start – be prepared to build up your knowledge over a period of time
- free advice and support is available
Above all, you will be able to learn new skills and know that you are making a real contribution to your local community.
Most of the business of governing a school takes place in meetings. It is really important that you attend them unless you have a good reason not to, in which case you should send apologies. Most schools have between 3 and 6 full governing body meetings a year.
In addition you will often be asked to sit on a committee which will also meet once or twice a term. Meetings often take place in the evening and usually last for about 2 hours. Some schools hold meetings during the day or after school in the late afternoon.
However there is more to being a governor than just attending meetings. Governors will also need to:
- visit the school during the school day in a supportive role to see the school in action - all visits should be discussed with the Headteacher in advance
- spend some time reading documents and preparing for meetings
- attend training sessions as appropriate to your role
Getting time off work
Employers must give employees who are school governors reasonable time off work to carry out their duties. This may be paid or unpaid. This is something that the employer and employee need to negotiate and you are advised to contact your HR department to find out what your employer’s policy is.
Employers can in turn benefit, as an employee who is a school governor will have access to training and development in addition to any training through work. You will be learning new skills and building on your self confidence in another role.