Do I need to be a parent?

No, you don’t need to be a parent to be a governor. Schools are looking for individuals who have the right skills to support and challenge the school – experience in finance, HR, marketing, and operations is especially needed. Even if you don’t work in these fields, the skills and experience you bring from the world of business is hugely beneficial.

Anyone over the age of 18 can be a governor, and young adults can offer a different perspective that schools find very helpful.

What is the time commitment?

The average time commitment is 5-8 hours per month, although it will vary depending on the needs of the school and the role. This includes meetings, background reading and school visits. Most governing boards hold their meetings in the evenings.

Like magistrates or members of a jury, school governors and trustees have a right to reasonable time off of work for their public duties, although this may be unpaid. Your company’s HR department will be able to tell you about its policy.

Each school sets a term of office for its governors/trustees, normally 2-4 years, and many serve multiple terms. However, as a volunteer you can resign before your term is finished if your circumstances change.

Will I need a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check?

Yes. When you accept a position the school or trust will require an Enhanced DBS check. They will normally organise this for you.

Are there any other factors that mean I couldn’t be a governor?

Bankruptcy can also disqualify someone from being a governor. Disqualification applies to anyone who is subject to a bankruptcy restriction order, interim bankruptcy restriction order, debt relief restrictions order, or interim debt relief restrictions order; or whose estate has been sequestrated and the sequestration has not been discharged, annulled or reduced.

Is there any kind of payment?

Governance is a voluntary role and therefore it is not paid. Some schools and trusts may pay travel and other expenses, but this will vary.

It is worth noting that serving as a governor is a great way to gain experience of professional skills such as chairing, strategic planning, budgeting and team work that are valued by employers. Plus, governors can have a huge impact on the education of young people in their communities, and there’s no greater feeling than knowing you’ve made a difference!

What is the difference between a governor and a trustee?

In general terms, governors and trustees carry out the same role. The difference in name indicates the kind of organisation they are part of. Governing boards of individual schools usually call their members governors, while multi-academy trusts (MATs) have trustee boards made up of trustees (also known as directors). Therefore governors usually have responsibility for one school, where trustees may be looking after a group of schools. Confused? See our description of different types of governor roles.

What is a multi-academy trust?

Multi-academy trusts (MATs), are organisations or entities that are responsible for a number of schools. They have trust boards made up of trustees, also called directors.

Trust boards will be overseeing several schools and therefore will be dealing with larger budgets and more complex governing arrangements. Within the trust, each school usually retains its own local governing board, but some of their responsibilities may be delegated to the trust board, for instance approving the budget and appointing the head.

I’ve registered, now what happens?

Once you’ve registered, you can search for schools in your area that have posted vacancies. If the skills they are looking for match your profile, you can send them a message via the online service indicating that you are interested. If it looks like a good match, the next step is to set up a call to discuss your mutual expectations. If you agree to go ahead, you’ll be invited to an informal interview.

In addition, governing boards seeking volunteers will see your profile online, and can contact you about a vacancy. It may take a few weeks or months to receive an invitation, depending on when local schools are seeking new recruits. If your skills and expertise match their criteria, they will send you a message via the online service and set up a call to discuss your mutual expectations. If you agree to go ahead, you’ll be invited to an informal interview.

A school has messaged me, but I’m not sure it’s the right school for me.

It can take time to find the right match. When you find a vacancy you’re interested in, the next step should be a phone call with the headteacher or chair of governors to find out more. It’s only at that point that you make a decision whether to accept.

All we ask is that you respond to every invitation, even if it is to decline, so that schools can keep looking if they need to. It’s easy to reply to a message, just tick one of the boxes at the bottom of the email to accept, decline or request more information. Schools really appreciate hearing from you, even if it’s to let them know that the vacancy not for you.

I registered several weeks ago and I still haven’t received an invitation.

Please be patient, and don’t take it personally! In some areas of the country we have lots of schools looking for governors, in other areas, there are far fewer. It can take several weeks for the right match to come along.

If you would like to know more about the options available, please email us at enquiries@inspiringgovernance.org and we will try to help.