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Becoming a Governor

School governors are people who want to make a positive contribution to children's education.

Governors are one of the largest volunteer forces in the country and have an important part to play in raising school standards. The role of a governing body is essential to the effectiveness of a school. Time and time again Ofsted (the national inspection body for schools) has noted that the most effective schools demonstrate effective leadership and management, which includes that of the governing body.

What do governors do?

School governors provide strategic leadership and accountability in schools. The governing body supports the head and staff by positively promoting the work of the school, celebrating its achievements, and working to ensure the best outcomes for the pupils. Governors appoint the headteacher and are involved in the appointment of other staff. In some schools the site is owned by the governing body. Governors hold the main responsibility for finance in schools, and ask questions to check the performance of the school. Working with the head teacher, governors make the tough decisions about balancing resources.

Each individual governor is a member of a governing body, which is established in law as a corporate body. Individual governors do not act independently of the rest of the governing body. Decisions are the joint responsibility of the governing body. As long as they act within the law, governors are protected from any financial liability for the decisions they take.

Who can become a governor?

Almost anyone over 18 years of age can become a governor. There are no particular qualifications or requirements, other than a willingness to give time to the role and a capacity for working with other people.

What will I get out of being a school governor?

  • The knowledge that you have played a part in improving children's education and supported the school's staff.
  • A chance to develop new skills and to practice existing ones, such as chairing meetings, speaking in groups, asking questions, making suggestions and appointing staff.
  • A chance to help other members of the team, perhaps because they are new, are not used to committee work or need help in learning about the school and about school governance.

What can you offer?

  • Enthusiasm
  • Commitment
  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Individual perspective

What makes a good school governor?

  • You care about improving children's educational attainment
  • You want to contribute to the local community
  • You want to be part of the team
  • You are willing to ask questions
  • You are open to ideas and willing to learn
  • You accept you might need training

Different Categories of Schools and Governors:

There are different types of school with different categories of governor.
The types of state schools in England are:

  • Community
  • Voluntary Controlled
  • Voluntary Aided
  • Foundation
  • Trust - a type of foundation school

The following are independent state funded schools:

  • Academies
  • Free Schools
  • City Technology Colleges (CTCs)

There are also different categories of governor:

  • Parent
  • Staff
  • Foundation
  • Partnership
  • Local authority (LA)
  • Co-opted

The type of governor you will become depends on your situation; however all governors have the same roles and responsibilities once part of the governing body.

Associate Member

Associate members are NOT governors, and do not have a vote at full governing body meetings. However, they are entitled to attend those meetings and to be sent the papers for them. The definition of associate member is wide and pupils, school staff and people who want to contribute specifically on issues related to their area of expertise (for instance, finance) can be appointed as associate members.

Governance Handbook

The DfE has produced the Governance Handbook which provides information about the role and legal duties of governing bodies in maintained schools and academies (including free schools).


SGOSS (School Governors One-Stop Shop) was set up in 1999 by the Department for Education to offer free services to volunteers, schools and employers. They are the school governor recruitment experts and their vision is for every school in England to have a diverse and effective governing body driving school improvement.

Visit and register with the SGOSS web site,  for comprehensive guidance and information on school governor recruitment - everything you need to know to support governor recruitment.

Alternatively contact the school directly to ask if they need a new governor.