The Role of a Governor

Governing Body Structure

Governing bodies are made up of a variety of individuals to ensure a breadth of opinion, knowledge and skills to enable them to carry out their duties in the best interests of the children. Our governing body includes:

  • Parent governors elected by parents and carers
  • Foundation governors proposed by the dioceses
  • Staff governor elected by the staff
  • Co-opted governors chosen by the governing body
  • Local authority governor proposed by the local authority
  • Associate governors chosen by the governing body
  • Headteacher who is a governor by default.

Different schools adopt different committee structures that suit their needs. Our governing body has three committees:

  • Pastoral and Curriculum Committee

This committee is concerned with curriculum standards, curriculum provision and children’s welfare. This committee also acts as a personnel committee concerned with staff contracts.

  • Finance and Premises Committee

This committee is concerned with budget, buildings and maintenance. It is also the committee responsible for health and safety.

  • Full Governing Body

This is the whole governing body and is concerned with all other issues not covered by committee. Although some issues will be moved up from the committee stage for full governing body consideration.

The Role of the Governor

The role and the duties of governors are as said, vast. Indeed, the Governors Handbook giving guidance on how to carry out the role runs to over a 130 pages. However, that is for technical guidance and is not needed for general governance. In essence, the governors are the strategic leaders of the school. They are responsible for setting the vision and direction of the school and within this role the school is accountable to them for its provision and standards. Governors are not responsible for the day-to-day running of the school and this is the duty of the headteacher who must report back to governors. To carry out this role effectively governing bodies need a range of skills and aptitudes within their membership. Most of all, governors need to be driven to get the best possible deal for the children in our school. The various designations of governors are not there to represent constituencies but are there to bring a variety of knowledge and skills to benefit our children.

The National Governors Association has published a breakdown of the skills required across the governing body.

Essential for all governors/trustees

Commitment to improving education for all pupils
Commitment to visit the school and see learning in action.
Ability to work in a team and take collective responsibility for decisions
Literacy and numeracy skills
Willingness to learn
IT skills (i.e. word processing and email)
Commitment to the school’s vision and ethos

Should exist across the governing body

Understanding/experience of governance
Experience of being a board member in another sector or a governor/trustee in another school
Experience of chairing a board/ governing body or committee
Experience of professional leadership

Vision and strategic planning
Understanding and experience of strategic planning
Change management (e.g. overseeing a merger or an organisational restructure, changing careers)
Ability to analyse and review complex issues objectively
Understanding of current education policy (DfE and Ofsted)
Problem solving skills
Understanding of current education developments (News)
Ability to propose and consider innovative solutions
Understanding of differing views on how children learn
Understanding of church school distinctiveness

Challenge and Support
Communication skills, including being able to discuss sensitive issues tactfully
Experience of project management
Ability to analyse data
Performance management/ appraisal of someone else
Understanding of educational assessment systems and issues
Experience of being performance managed/appraised yourself
Ability to question and challenge
Experience of HR management

Financial and premises oversight
Financial planning/management ( e.g. as part of your job)
Experience of premises and facilities management
Experience of procurement/purchasing
Experience of building and construction
Experience of submitting bids and/or accessing funding
Experience of building issues – planning and control
Experience/knowledge of legal issues and law

Knowing your school and community
Links with the community
Knowledge of the local/regional economy
Links with our local churches
Working or volunteering with young people (e.g. teaching/social work/youth work/sports coaching/health services for young people)
Links with local businesses
Understanding of special educational needs


No individual governor needs to have this range of skills but it is preferable that they are represented across the governing body.

Following a skills audit last year the governors would particularly welcome new members with some experience in financial and premises oversight.

Standing for the Parent Governor Election

If you would like to stand for consideration as a parent governor when the opportunity arises you will need to nominate yourself. You will be asked to write a personal statement of no more than 150 words. The governors would be keen that you point towards some of the skills and knowledge you could bring to the governing body linked to the areas above. This will enable voters to make informed choices.

Why It Is Worth Being a Governor

When first becoming aware of the breadth of the role it can seem a little daunting. However, it is a fantastically rewarding role and all new governors will be supported by more experienced members of the governing body. Becoming a governor gives you a real opportunity to contribute to the good of the community leading to a real sense of satisfaction and a sense of achievement. You will get to work as part of a team and be given the opportunity to develop new skills and strengthen existing ones.