Governors play an important part in overseeing the running of the school by working with the headteacher, the school staff and the council.
Being a governor is a demanding and fulfilling role. You don't need any formal qualifications to become a governor, but you do need an interest in young people, teaching and learning. You'll need to have common sense, be objective, have an open mind and be willing to learn.
Being a governor is a serious commitment. Governing bodies must meet at least once a term and many meet twice, and you'll be expected to sit on one or more sub-committees. You'll also be invited to school events such as concerts and assemblies. The headteacher looks after the day to day management of the school. The governors:
- agree the aims and values of the school
- look at ways of raising standards and promoting effective teaching and learning, so the pupils achieve their full potential
- decide what they want the school to achieve (the vision), and make plans to get there
- make decisions on the school's budget and approve school development plans
- help to set and review the policies that provide a broad framework within which the headteacher and staff should run the school
- monitor and review their school's progress
- make sure individual pupils' needs are met, including additional needs
- produce action plans for improvement following school inspections
- establish and maintain positive links with the local community
- support the day to day operational decisions of the headteacher
Most governors are appointed or elected to serve for a four-year term.
There are a number of types of governors. Whichever type you are, you are there to bring your own views and experiences to the governing body and are not representing the views of others. The governing body will include the headteacher, some teacher governors and possibly a governor from the non-teaching staff. There may also be a foundation governor, for example in church schools. The rest of the governors are from the following groups:
Parents: Parent governors are elected by parents of pupils at the school. When there is a vacancy for a parent governor, parents are asked for nominations, and if there is more than one, an election is held.
Teacher: Teacher governors are elected by his/her colleagues at the school. This includes part-time and peripatetic teachers.
Staff: All maintained schools, except where there are fewer than 100 pupils, have a staff governor on their governing body. They are elected by, and from among, the non-teaching staff at the school.
Foundation: Foundation governors are appointed by the people or organisation named in the school's instrument of government. Foundation governors have a responsibility to ensure that the school is run in accordance with the statement of religious ethos. If the school has a religious character the foundation governors must preserve and develop this and must also ensure compliance with the trust deed, if there is one.
Local Authority: LA governors are appointed by the Local Authority. They normally have a specific and useful skill or are known for their community work and interest in education.
Community: Community governors are chosen by the governing body. They may possess particular skills or come from a specific group, such as the business community.
Additional Community Governors: Additional Community Governors are appointed by town or community councils.
New governors should ask the clerk for:
- The School Governor's Guide to the Law
- Estyn Inspection Report and Action Plan
- The School Prospectus
- List of members on the governing body
- A copy of the school staffing structure
- A copy of the recent school budget report
- The current School Development Plan
- The most recent Annual Report to Parents
- Minutes of recent governing body meetings
- Calendar of governing body meetings
- Plan of the school
- Any other school policies
You should meet with the headteacher and/or chair of governors before your first meeting, so you can get to know them and ask any questions. You may also be given a mentor - an experienced governor who can help you learn on the job.
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