What is a school governor?

School governors play a vital role in education, they are the overseers of a school and have an important and varied role helping the school run effectively. In state/maintained schools the governing board have three main functions. 1. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure the money is well spent. 2. Holding the Headteacher and leaders to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils and efficient performance management of staff. 3. Planning the strategic direction of the school, ensuring the aims and objectives are set and the targets and policies for achieving those.

Who can be a school governor?

School governors are volunteers that help manage a school and hold headteachers to account to ensure schools are meeting their strategic objectives. Governors do not manage the day-to-day operational running of the school, that is the responsibility of the Headteacher, they are required to oversee the long-term development. Most governing bodies consist of a wide range of people who bring variety of skills to the role. There is no specific qualification required to be a school governor, however there must be a broad ranging understanding of the expectations required for the success of the school and the consequences of decisions made, as well as the impact new initiatives and new proposals will have on staff, pupils, and parents. This is a long-term commitment on average 4 years with expectations to attend meetings, visit schools and dedicate time every month to the role. Being a school governor is an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to a local school in the community and an opportunity to use skills and knowledge you may have of education or experiences outside of education to inform conversations and decision making. Ultimately, there must be a dedication and a vested interest in the long-term success of pupils and the school itself.

What are the responsibilities of a school governor?

The role of a school governor is a challenging and rewarding one and governors have influence over the success of the school. Broadly the responsibilities are but no limited to the below.

  • Ensuring clear vision and strategic direction.

  • Monitor the school’s budget.

  • Holding headteachers and leaders to account for the educational performance of the school and pupils and performance management of staff.

  • Analyse school staffing structure.

  • Recruit and appoint Headteacher and senior leaders.

  • Review pay recommendations for staff and set Headteachers pay.

  • Work alongside the headteacher to promote effective ways of learning and teaching and setting the school aims and policies.

  • Work as a team to ensure the best decisions are made for the school and rising educational standard is a key priority.

  • Be prepared to challenge senior leadership and decisions if required and identify improvements to the school.

  • It is important to maintain and understand the wellbeing of staff and pupils and identify and appreciate the different circumstances of pupils, parents/carers in relation to home environments.

  • Review and make amendments to school policies.

  • Attend school events and visit the school and check how actions are going.

  • Analyse data on how schools are preforming.

  • Be involved where necessary for grievance and disciplinary hearings.

How can you become a school governor?

To become a school governor, you can apply directly to your local school or college or contact your local council office. Each school will have their own recruitment process, and this may include an application form, undertaking an interview, visiting the school, or shadowing a governor’s board meeting. Schools will likely check references and do a DBS check, and it is important to provide this to help the school make an informed decision.

How can the NEU support your role as a school governor?

The National Education Union believes ethical leadership should be at the heart of everything we do.  The NEU Code of Ethical Practice in Leadership can be used by Governors to help support and inform meaningful leadership conversations in schools and colleges.

What training is available?

Once appointed each school will have their own training and induction process. There is also online material and guidance to help become an effective school governor. An example of can be found here: https://www.nga.org.uk/Home.aspx