Having spent many years as a governor, both in Bude and up north, I can recommend it as a way to support your local school and its students, but also to give you a good working knowledge of how schools work.
Community Governors can be anyone in the community. Being a governor can be a worthwhile experience, so why not stand for election, or nominate a friend who may be interested in this demanding but rewarding role? To do so, you need a simple nomination form available from the school.
The small print.
Governors are responsible for their school as a corporate Governing Board, but not as individuals. In all types of Schools, Governing Boards should have a strong focus on the three core strategic functions which
are listed below:
1. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
2. Holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils,
and the performance management of staff
3. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
As part of the Governing Board, a governor is expected to:
1. Contribute to the strategic discussions at Governing Board meetings which determine:
the vision and ethos of the school
clear and ambitious strategic priorities and targets for the school
that all children, including those with special educational needs and/or a disability, have access to
a broad and balanced curriculum
the school’s budget, including the expenditure of the pupil premium allocation
the school’s staffing structure and key staffing policies
the principles to be used by school leaders to set other school policies
2. Hold the senior leaders to account by monitoring the school’s performance; this includes:
agreeing the outcomes from the school’s self-evaluation and ensuring they are used to inform the
priorities in the school development plan
considering all relevant data and feedback provided on request by school leaders and external
sources on all aspects of school performance
asking challenging questions of school leaders
ensuring senior leaders have arranged for the required audits to be carried out and receiving the
results of those audits
ensuring senior leaders have developed the required policies and procedures and the school is
operating effectively according to those policies
acting as a link governor on a specific issue, making relevant enquiries of the relevant staff, and
reporting to the Governing Board on the progress of the relevant school priority
listening to and reporting to the school’s stakeholders: pupils, parents, staff, and the wider
community, including local employers
3. Ensure the school staff have the resources and support they require to do their jobs well, including the necessary expertise in business management, external advice where necessary, effective appraisal and CPD
(Continuing Professional Development), and suitable premises, and that the way in which those resources are used has an impact.4. When required, serve on panels of governors to:
appoint the Headteacher and other senior leaders
appraise the Headteacher
set the Headteacher’s pay and agree on the pay recommendations for other staff
hear the second stage of staff grievances and disciplinary matters
hear appeals about pupil exclusions
The role of the governor is an important role which includes holding the Headteacher to account on strategic
A governor does not
Write school policies
Undertake audits of any sort – whether financial or health and safety – even if the governor has the relevant professional experience
Fundraise – this is the role of the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) – the Governing Board should consider income streams and the potential for income generation, but not carry out fundraising tasks
Undertake classroom observations to make judgements on the quality of teaching – the Governing Board monitors the quality of teaching in the school by requiring data from the senior staff and from external sources
Do the job of the school staff – if there is not enough capacity within the paid staff team to carry out the necessary tasks, the Governing Board need to consider and rectify this
As you become more experienced as a governor, there are other roles you could volunteer for which would
increase your degree of involvement and level of responsibility (e.g., as a chair of a committee).
In order to perform this role well, a governor is expected to:
get to know the school, including visiting the school occasionally during school hours, and gain a good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses
attend induction training and regular relevant training and development events
attend meetings (full Governing Board meetings and committee meetings) and read all the papers before the meeting;
act in the best interest of all the pupils of the school
behave in a professional manner, as set down in the Governing Board’s code of conduct, including acting in strict confidence
Under usual circumstances, you should expect to spend between 10 and 20 days a year on your governing responsibilities; the top end of this commitment, which equates to about half a day per week in term time, is
most relevant to the chair and others with key roles, such as chairs of committees. Initially, we would expect your commitment to be nearer 10 days a year. However, there may be periods when the time commitment
may increase, for example when recruiting a Headteacher. Some longstanding governors may tell you that they spend far more time than this on school business; however, it is fairly common for governors to undertake additional volunteering roles over and above governance.
Under Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, if you are employed, then you are entitled to reasonable time off’ to undertake public duties; this includes school governance. ‘Reasonable time off’ is not defined in law, and you will need to negotiate with your employer how much time you will be allowed.