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  The role of the school governor and governing bodies

2 October 2015

The role of the school governor is demanding but very rewarding and is a good way to give back to your local community.  School governing bodies are responsible for working with the school to ensure that it delivers a good quality education. Together with the headteacher, who is responsible for day-to-day management, they set the school's aims and policies.

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Key roles of governors:

  • To ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • To hold the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  • To oversee the financial performance of the school and make sure its money is well spent 


They also carry out a number of other important duties, which include:

  • Determining how the school's budget is spent
  • The appointing and dismissing of staff
  • Hearing appeals and grievances
  • Forming policy on the school's curriculum and collective worship
  • Setting standards for pupils' behaviour and discipline
  • Making sure school buildings are welcoming and safe
  • Setting and monitoring the school's aims and policies  

Who can be a school governor? 

You don't have to have children at the school to be a governor. However, you do have to be over 18, and pass a formal check for your suitability to be within a school.  No specific qualifications are required but there are certain expectations. What's really important is that you have energy, enthusiasm, time and a real desire to help provide children with the best possible education.
Governors come from all sections of the community, and all walks of life. They can be parents, staff at the school, residents in the locality or representatives of local churches or businesses. It is important that you can work as part of a team, and can give commitment to the school.
There are usually, depending on the size of the school, between 9 - 20 people who make up the governing body. Advice, support and training for the role is given by the council. Some governors are elected by parents, some are appointed by the governing body itself, the local authority or local churches. This ensures governing bodies reflect the communities they serve.

Term of office and meetings 

The term of office for a school governor is normally four years. Most schools have a full governing body meeting once a term (for approximately 2 hours). You may also join a committee which usually meets once a term. Most governors find they usually attend meetings or visit a school three or four times each term. You may be invited to special occasions such as assemblies, sports days, plays and presentations.

Recruiting school governors - tips for success

It can be challenging finding people who want to be school governors. Our new factsheet is packed with ideas you may like to try. If you are considering a recruitment campaign, Governor Services can support you with leaflets that summarise the role of the school governor as well as a small number of promotional materials.

Induction for new school governors 

Once a clerk has alerted us that a new governor has started, a welcome pack is sent out. This pack includes information about your role and responsibilities, key educational abbreviations and acronyms, advice on training and how to keep up to date, plus a list of useful contacts. We offer an induction course that can be booked online via You can also email your request to or call us on 033301 39834. 
New governors are expected to attend a one day induction course.  This is essential to helping you understand your role so you can begin to make a positive difference to your governing body. The workshops are run across Essex and tutors do their best to make them simple, straightforward and fun.
For further information see our induction policy for new governors.


Governors from subscribing schools can register to access online training through GEL at no additional cost.
e-Learning is an excellent alternative if new governors can’t attend face to face training, or would like to refresh their knowledge after attending a course.
Although face to face sessions do not align exactly with the modules on GEL, where they do, governors can print off a certificate as proof of completion and show it to their tutor to sign off.

Information provided by the school to new governors 

As a new governor you should expect to receive these key items from your school.
  • A list of governors with contact details and any specific responsibilities they may have
  • Minutes of the last full governing body meeting
  • A CD-ROM containing a guide to the law for governors
  • The school prospectus
  • The school development plan
  • The headteacher's most recent report to the governing body
  • The school profile and last Ofsted inspection report (or details on where to access them online)
  • Dates of terms and holidays
  • How to arrange a visit to the school 

Training courses 

As a school governor you will be offered a range of training courses which can be booked online.
For more information please visit our learning and development pages.