School Governor Support Services
Every school has a governing body of between nine and 20 members. They are a bit like a management board for a company. The governing body consists of:
- School staff (normally includes the school’s head teacher)
- Representatives of the local council
- People from the local community
Certain schools will also have foundation governors linked with their local church or diocese.
Governors are the largest volunteer force in the country. They have an important part to play in raising school standards. Currently there are more than 900 governors in North Lincolnshire.
In general governors have three key roles:
- Setting strategic direction
- Ensuring accountability
- Monitoring and evaluating the school’s performance
The decisions made by the governing board directly shape and influence the quality of education received by our children and young people.
The governing body’s main aim is to:
- help raise standards of achievement
- make sure the school provides good or outstanding education provision
Whilst the day-to-day management of the school is the responsibility of the head teacher and staff, governors set the future direction for the school. They decide how the school’s budget should be spent.
Governing bodies make decisions collectively on matters such as:
- performance targets
- school policies
- the school’s improvement plan
Governing bodies report to parents on the school’s achievements and respond to inspection recommendations.
Governors use their knowledge and experience to provide the head teacher with support and advice. They ask searching questions by acting as a ‘critical friend’ of the school.
Governors work as a team. Individual governors have no power or responsibility. It is only the full governing body which has legal duties and powers. All governors share in this corporate responsibility.
The role of governing bodies can be divided into three main categories:
- providing a strategic overview
- acting as a critical friend to the school
- ensuring accountability
The strategic role:
- helps to set standards and targets for performance for the school
- has an overview of the curriculum
- helps to set policies for itself and the school
- selects the head and deputy headteacher
- makes decisions about the school’s budget and staffing
- delivers effective planning, including post-inspection duties
- makes sure the school provides for all its pupils, including those with special needs
- decides how the school can encourage pupils’ spiritual, moral and cultural development
The critical friend:
- the governing body has a good working relationship and regular meetings with the headteacher
- the governing body monitors how well the school is doing, and how well policies and plans are being implemented
- the governing body will get to know the school well, and have clear lines of responsibility between it, the headteacher and the various school committees.
The governing body gets regular reports from the headteacher and oversees key decisions. Collectively the governing body takes responsibility for the success of the school. To ensure accountability, governors need to be actively involved through attending meetings, and reading relevant reports and background papers.
The time needed to be an active school governor can be as little as six to eight hours each school month. This includes preparation time for meetings and visits. The normal term of office for a school governor is four years. But governors are volunteers who can leave at any time. They can also be re-appointed or re-elected.
The amount of time will vary depending on how much you are able and willing to give to the role. If appointed you should be prepared to:
- attend meetings – the governing body must meet at least once a term. Governing bodies also have a number of committees who report back to the full governing body. You will probably be asked to serve on at least one committee.
- read through papers and minutes prior to the meeting so that you are prepared for any discussions get to meetings – which are normally during the evening but can be during the day
- attend training to develop your skills as a governor
Being a governor is an enormously challenging and rewarding opportunity. Here are a few of the benefits:
- a sense of satisfaction through knowing children will benefit from your efforts
- the opportunity to develop new skills and to strengthen existing ones
- the opportunity to work with a wide range of people from a variety of social, cultural and religious backgrounds
- the opportunity to gain an understanding of, and experience in, key areas such as finance, personnel, target setting and strategic planning
- the opportunity to gain an awareness of the education system as a whole
Through solving problems ranging from:
- finance to site management
- human resources to marketing
- pupil welfare to curriculum development
Every governor is guaranteed to broaden their skills and knowledge in some way. This can be enhanced through training offered by the local authority. All decisions are made with the consensus of the whole governing body which develops teamwork and communication skills.
All types of people can become school governors. No special qualifications are required, but you must be 18 or over on the date when you are elected or appointed.
Enthusiasm, commitment and an interest in education are the most important qualities. You don’t always need to have a child at the school. Many schools would particularly welcome new governors who have transferable skills developed at work. Or who have a particularly good understanding of the community served by the school.
The main types of governors are:
- Parent governors: selected by election (or appointment if insufficient people stand for election). They are parents and carers of children at the school
- Staff governors: selected by election from teaching and support staff paid to work at the school
- Co-opted governors / Community: appointed by the governing body to represent community interests
- Authority governors: appointed by the local authority. They are representative of the local authority
- Foundation governors (not community schools): appointed by the school’s founding body, church or other organisation named in the school’s instrument of government
- Associate members (not governors): appointed by the governing body to attend committee meetings and/or full governing body meetings due to their particular skills or experience
We provide a comprehensive development programme. We provide various training courses through Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for governors. These are available to all our governors to help and support them in their role.
Our Training Programme Developing Outstanding Governance [PDF, 951kb] is sent to all governors.
All governing bodies are supported by a trained clerk. Most governing bodies purchase the clerking service from the local authority. Clerks are highly trained and participate in regular professional development opportunities to expand their knowledge on new and developing issues. They offer extensive support to the governing body in terms of advice and administration
- North Lincolnshire Association of Governing Bodies – the NLAGB represents and supports governing bodies in North Lincolnshire. They work with local governing bodies, schools, academies and the local authority. The association aims to support governance within North Lincolnshire.
- The Governors Handbook – the Governors Handbook gives information about the role and legal duties of governing bodies in maintained schools and academies (including free schools).
- National Association of Governors – the National Governors Association (NGA)represents school governors in England. The NGA is an independent charity that aims to support and promote good governance in our schools