Who can become a governor?
Anyone who is a legal resident in the UK and is over 18 can become a governor. You do not need to be a parent or a parent of a student at the school or college.
Governing bodies may be made up of a broad range of people, including: parents, school staff, members of the community, and people nominated by the local authority and sometimes the church. College governing bodies might also include students. The most important thing is that governors have skills to contribute and the willingness to learn and develop their abilities as a governor.
What qualities does a governor need?
Effective governors do not need to be experts in education but they do need to be committed to their school or college. A key role of governors is holding the management team to account robustly and effectively, for this it is important that governors have a questioning mind and are diplomatic. They also need to be enthusiastic and a good team player. To contribute effectively, all governors need to be literate and numerate.
Governing bodies will also benefit from governors who have really strong skills in areas such as data analysis, understanding financial accounts, and dealing with legal matters.
How much time will I need to commit?
A governor can expect to volunteer for the equivalent of about six to ten days per year, but this is likely to increase if the governor takes on the responsibility of Chair of the governing body, or Chair of a governing body committee. Most of this time will probably be in the evenings though some will also be during the school day. This includes time for meetings, background reading and visits to the school or college. Most governors have a four-year term of office but it can be shorter, and as a volunteer you can resign at any time if your circumstances change.
Is this a paid role?
No, this is a volunteer role. However, school governing bodies may offer to cover governors’ out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of fulfilling their role as governor, including travel and childcare. Loss of earnings is not included.
The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has produced guidance for college governors.
What support can I expect to receive as a school governor?
You should expect your governing body to help you learn and develop in your role as a governor.
Most governing bodies will have access to induction and training programmes provided by the local authority, academy chain, or other provider. Some subscribe to online training, information and advice.
Each governing body has a clerk. This is often an individual with considerable experience of governance who can help guide governors through both legislative and procedural issues.
A range of free and subsidised training workshops and programmes are available for school governors from the National College for Teaching and Leadership. To find out more visit:
There is free advice available to governors via GovernorLine, a telephone and email advisory service staffed by experienced governors with legal support. You can contact GovernorLine via:
www.worklifesupport.com/governorline or call 08000 722 181.
Members of the National Governors’ Association have access to Welcome to Governance, a guide for new governors, as well as free places at conferences and meetings around the country, online guidance and GOLDline legal advice. NGA’s training and consultancy service can be found at:
The Association of Colleges (AoC) is a not-for-profit membership organisation set up by colleges to act as their collective voice. AoC maintains a section of its website dedicated to supporting all aspects of governance. Within this you will find an introductory guide for new governors and a growing library of advisory documents, including a set of specially commissioned guidance notes.
If you are a governor of an AoC member college, you can email AoC’s helpline or call 020 7034 9900 to get advice on any aspect of governance, including policy, funding, law or best practice. firstname.lastname@example.org