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The role of the school governor and governing bodies

25 October 2016

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.

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 the skills, time and commitment to help drive school improvement and the passion and ambition to achieve the best possible education for children and young people. One of the key Essex priorities is that every school in Essex is judged to be at least Good by 2018.

EES for Schools Governor Services have developed a charter for local authority governors that sets out our expectations and commitment to support.

Effective governance will include these core features:

  • Commitment to ongoing development and to getting to know the school well, including effective induction.
  • Commitment to playing an active part whilst working as part of a team.
  • Ability to provide robust challenge and hold school leaders to account whilst listening to and respecting the views of others.
  • Focus on a strategic role rather than involvement in operational matters

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.