Throughout the website, references to 'board' should be taken to mean the accountable body for the school or group of schools (governing body/governing board).

The role of the governing board is essential to the effectiveness of a school.  Time and time again the Office for standards in education (Ofsted) has noted that the most effective schools demonstrate effective leadership and management, which includes that of the governing board. 

School governors provide strategic leadership and accountability in schools.  The role of the governing board supports the headteacher and staff by positively promoting the work of the school, celebrating its achievements and working to ensure the best outcomes for pupils. 

All boards, no matter what type of schools or how many schools they govern, have three core functions: 

  • Ensuring the 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; and
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

Each individual governor and any associate member(s) form the governing board, which is established in law as a corporate body.  This means that individual governors and associate members do not act independently of the rest of the governing board.  All decisions are the joint responsibility of the governing board.  As long as LA maintained school governors and associate members act within the law, governors are protected from financial liability for the decisions they take.

School governors and associate members are people who want to make a positive contribution to children's education.

Governors and associate members are one of the largest volunteer forces in the country and have an important part to play in raising school standards. 

Who can become a governor?

There are no particular qualifications or requirements to volunteer to be a governor or associate member.  However, governing boards will probably be looking for some of the following:

  • individuals who are enthusiastic about contributing to improving the outcomes for all pupils and inevitably the local and wider community;
  • individuals who are aware there is a commitment involved ie time;
  • individuals who may have some specialist knowledge/experience that they can bring ie accountant, health and safety, a knowledge of educational establishments;
  • individuals that bring their own perspective, they are not there to represent others views;
  • individuals who work as part of a team;
  • individuals who are willing to ask questions;
  • have a willingness to learn;
  • accept that there may be a need to upskill by attending training;
  • understand that there is a requirement for a DBS check;
  • accept and appreciate the importance of confidentiality;
  • understand that all governors have the same roles and responsibilities once part of a governing board;
  • someone over the age of 18 years.

Associate Member

Associate members are not governors, and so do not have a vote at full governing board meetings. However, they are entitled to attend those meetings and to be sent the papers for them. The definition of associate member is wide and pupils, school staff and people who want to contribute specifically on issues related to their area of expertise (for instance, finance) can be appointed as associate members.

How can you become a governor or associate member?

There are different categories of governors and at certain times governing boards will have vacancies they need to fill.  Schools use a number of ways to advertise vacancies such as posters in shops, Post Offices, libraries, leisure centres, school website and school newsletters - keep an eye out for those.  If you are a parent at a school look out for letters in school bags, emails, and text alerts from school.  

Alternatively, you can inform a school that you are interested in becoming a governor or associate member directly.  The governing board would then have your expression of interest for any future vacancies you may qualify for.

There are some organisations that are specifically set up to offer the facility where a governing board or an individual can register their vacancy or interest, which is then held for a 'match making' process.  You can find details of a few organisations that offer this service below you may want to consider registering with:

Recruitment of governors

The Governor Support Team would like to direct you to some resources which may be helpful in the sourcing of and recruitment of governors, trustees and associate members: 

When considering recruitment, it is always useful to consider the number on your governing board.  A governing board can reconstitute at any time.  Reconstitution is a legal process which has to be undertaken through the Local Authority, and in consultation with the Diocese and foundations as appropriate.  A Skills Audit may assist a governing board when undergoing the Reconstitution Process.