What Governors are on a Governing Body?
There are several different types of school governor
Parent governors are elected, by the parents of pupils attending the school. Parent governors are able to continue in their role as a governor, until the end of their term of office, even if their child is no longer a pupil at the school.
Teacher governors are employed to work at the school and elected by the teachers within the school.
Staff governors are staff employed at the school other than in a teaching capacity and elected from amongst the non-teaching staff at the school.
Local authority (LEA) governors
These governors are appointed by the elected members of the council. LA governors can be elected county councillors or applicants appointed by them.
These governors are appointed by the governing body. Community governors usually live or work in the community of the school area and bring their own particular expertise to the governing body.
By virtue of their appointment a headteacher is a voting member of the governing body of their school unless they choose not to be a governor. Headteachers attend all meetings of the full governing body.
Clerk to governors
The clerk is not a member of the governing body but has an important role to play in ensuring that the governing body runs efficiently. They are responsible for the administration of the governing body; they convene meetings, take the minutes etc. In many governing bodies they also provide procedural advice to governors. The clerk to governors is not a governor and has no voting rights.
Some frequently asked questions
Do I need qualifications to be a school governor?
No. Schools need volunteers with a variety of life experiences.
Whilst you do not need qualifications to be a governor, the following are important:
• A commitment to undertake mandatory new governor training and other supplementary training that may be identified in order to update knowledge and skills, which will enhance an individual's effectiveness as a governor
• A commitment to regular attendance at meetings of the governing body and any committees to which they are appointed
• A desire to raise the standards of education within the school
• A willingness to share skills and expertise within the context of the governing body.
I work full-time. Will I still have time to be a school governor?
Many school governors are in full-time work. Governors' meetings can take place during the working day but, very often, they are arranged for the evenings.
What if my employer won't give me time off?
Many employers actually encourage their staff to become school governors. They realise that the skills gained through being a school governor are transferable to the workplace.
Employment law gives people the right to reasonable unpaid time off and some employers give paid leave for school governor duties.
What makes a good governor?
• You care about improving children's education
• You want to contribute to your local community
• You want to work as part of a team and can value the contribution made by other people
• You accept the need to receive training
• You are willing to ask questions
• You are open to ideas and willing to learn
What can I offer?
Enthusiasm and commitment!
If you are a parent, you will understand other parents' concerns, but you don't need to be a parent to be a school governor.
As a member of the school's community your local knowledge will be valuable - you will have a feel for what is important to people in the area.
How does a governing body work?
• Works closely with the headteacher
• Makes decisions democratically as a team
• Often delegates decision-making to committees or to individuals such as the headteacher
• Meets at least once a term
• Conducts most of its business through meetings, making use of relevant papers, guidance and advice from the headteacher and the Local Authority.
How much time does it take?
The amount of time that governors can give to the role will vary, but if you are serious about helping your school to help children, then you do need to:
• Be willing to prepare for meetings - there can be a lot of papers to read
• Attend meetings - the governing body must meet at least once per term, however you will probably be asked to serve on at least one committee. How often these meet will vary, but it is not unusual for some committees to meet each half-term
• Be able to get to meetings which, quite often, will be during the evening but which may be earlier during the day
• Participate - if you cannot prepare for, and attend, meetings you will not be able to make an effective contribution to help the school.
Can I expect to receive any help and support?
Yes. The local authority values school governors as important partners in the education community and so ensures a comprehensive package of support is available. The Local Authority runs an induction course for new governors that cover the main areas of a governing body's responsibilities.
Training is an integral part of the development of every governor and this is organised and delivered through an annual training programme facilitated by specialist staff called upon as appropriate because of their particular expertise - Governor training and development
If you are a parent governor and your child leaves the school during your term of office, can you remain as a parent governor?
Yes, you can continue if you so wish until your term of office comes to an end.
Are teacher or staff governors eligible to stand for the position of chair of the governing body?
No, they are not eligible to stand for chair or vice chair.
Is it a requirement that governors attend training sessions?
Mandatory training for newly appointed governors came into force in September 2013 and the Local Authority runs courses, free of charge, on a regular basis. The training session takes approximately 2 hours.
There is also a comprehensive governor training programme in place offering training on a range of relevant topics including child protection and finance. It is advised that governors consider carefully the training sessions offered in the governor training booklet to decide which ones would benefit them and their Governing Body - Governor training and development
How long can a governor remain as chair to the governing body?
Elections take place annually at the first meeting of the governing body in the Autumn Term. Any chair can stand for re-election as many times as he/she chooses. The chair is elected democratically by a majority vote of governors via a secret ballot where contested.
Can a deputy head regularly attend governing body meetings and take part in proceedings?
No governors can attend governing body meetings but only with the permission of the governing Body. Every governing body has at least one teacher governor on its governing body and any deputy headteacher can stand for election. If the majority of the teaching staff vote to support the deputy headteacher he/she would become teacher governor and entitled to attend governing body meetings. If there is no vacancy for a teacher governor or the deputy headteacher is unsuccessful in an election for a teacher governor, permission can be sought of the governing body to check whether they are prepared for the deputy headteacher to sit in on a governing body meeting as an observer.
Is it a statutory requirement to have a representative from a minor authority (e.g. community council) as an additional community governor on a primary school governing body?
Yes, but only when the primary school is located in an area that is served by a community council.
What are the different categories of governor that make up a governing body?
There are: parent governors; LEA governors; community governors; additional community governors (only in an area served by a community council); teacher governors and (non-teaching) staff governors as well as the headteacher.
How long can a governor serve on a governing body?
For four years in the majority of cases. Sometimes when a school is located in an area that is served by more than one community council they may decide to share the term of office subdividing the four year term between representatives of the different community councils. Associate pupil governors on secondary school governing bodies hold office for one year. If any eligible governor is interested in undertaking a further four year term, they can put themselves forward for re-appointment/re-election.
Can I be paid for being a governor?
No, it is a voluntary position.
Are the minutes of a governing body meeting confidential?
No, they are public documents unless any section is marked as 'Confidential' and this is for the governors only.
Can anyone attend a governing body meeting?
No one can attend a meeting of the governing body without the permission of the governing body.
Should a clerk be appointed to every committee of the governing body?
Every meeting of the full governing body and its committees must be minuted. It is not necessary for the clerk to governors to attend every committee meeting but in this instance one of the members of the committee must take on this responsibility. The clerk to governors must minute every meeting of the full governing body and the statutory committees.
Can a governor take time off work because he/she is a governor?
It is accepted in legislation that governors are entitled to reasonable time off work for their work as a governor. Employers do not, however, have to grant time off with pay, although many organisations do.
How do I go about placing an item on the agenda for a future governing body meeting?
A governor would need to approach the clerk to governors or chair about placing an item on the agenda.
How much notice do you need to give before a meeting?
Written notice must be given at least five clear working days in advance of a meeting. Exceptionally, the chair may decide that there are matters requiring urgent attention and a shorter period of notice may be given.
What is the quorum for governing body meetings?
The quorum for a meeting of the full governing body or a committee is one half of the membership, excluding any vacancies, rounded up to the nearest whole number. For statutory committees the quorum is 3.
Do governing bodies have to produce an annual report to parents?
Yes. A summary can also be produced with parents being able to request a copy of the full report if they wish.
If a governor has missed meetings for a continuous period of six months, although apologies have always been sent to the clerk in advance, can they be disqualified?
Only if their apologies were not accepted by the governing body and this fact was formally minuted.
How are governors appointed/elected?
• LEA Governors are appointed by elected members (Councillors) of the City and County of Swansea.
• Parent governors are elected by the parents of the school concerned.
• Teacher governors and staff governors are elected by teaching staff and non-teaching staff respectively, of the school concerned.
• Community governors are co-opted onto the governing body by the governors themselves.
• Additional Community Governors are nominated by the Community Council (where appropriate).
• Foundation governors (voluntary aided schools only) are appointed (often by the appropriate church) to ensure that the school preserves its religious character.