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 has three main functions:

  1. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure the money is well spent. 
  2. Supporting and acting as a critical friend to head teachers and leaders to enhance the educational performance of the school and its pupils and ensure that staff have access to development opportunities to enable their efficiency. This reflects the union's line of collaboration and support. 
  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?

Most governing bodies consist of a wide range of people who bring a variety of skills and knowledge from their backgrounds to the role. There is no specific qualification required to be a school governor, but it is necessary to bring a broad understanding of the expectations required for the success of the school and the consequences of the decisions made. Governors will need to give particular regard to the impact new initiatives and proposals will have on staff, pupils, and parents. On average the governor term is 4 years with the expectations to attend meetings and gain a better understanding of how the school is meeting the strategic direction. Being a school governor is an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to a local school and community. 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?

  • Ensuring clear vision and strategic direction. 
  • Work alongside the head teacher 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 raising educational standards 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. 
  • Monitor the school’s budget. 
  • Analyse school staffing structure. 
  • Recruit and appoint Headteacher and senior leaders. 

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. 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 is available here: https://neu.org.uk/ethical-practice-leadership.

Governors can use the NEU Code of Ethical Leadership in Practice to help support and inform meaningful leadership conversations in schools and colleges.