Governors must attend meetings of the governing body, which are held at least three times a year. These are usually in the evening for two hours. They are expected to read the agenda and any documents in advance of the meeting, as well as ask relevant questions.
Governors have to decide whether the school implements things such as budget and policies, and carry out duties delegated to them. Governors should get to know what is happening in the school and participate in school events. They should visit and meet with a member of staff or arrange a classroom visit. It is also necessary to meet with the Headteacher and Chair of Governors. Governors should attend training sessions to ensure knowledge and skills are up to date.
Chair and vice-chair
All governing bodies must elect a chair and vice-chair. The governing body decides how long the term of office for these positions are, from one to four years. Anyone employed at the school can’t be elected to these positions.
The chair is the main link between the governing body and the headteacher and must work closely with the headteacher on school matters, listen to concerns and give advice.
The chair should:
- make sure the governing body's actions are conducted within the law
- ensure meetings start and finish on time and agendas are properly discussed
- work with the clerk and headteacher to agree meetings, agendas and minutes
- help plan the yearly cycle of meetings and work
- read up on local and national educational issues and share this information
- attend additional training and meetings
- take action on behalf of the governing body if delays would be harmful
The vice-chair assumes the role of chair if the current chair is unavailable.
Each committee of the governing body will have a chair, who leads the discussions and ensures that the decisions of the committee are conveyed back to the governing body. They will also work with the clerk and headteacher to agree agendas and minutes.
Child protection governor
Governing bodies have a responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children at the school and ensure the school has effective child protection policies in place which meet local and national guidance.
Some governing bodies appoint a child protection governor, who champions child protection issues, keeps up to date with legal developments, attends additional training and provides information and reports to the governing body.
If you join one of the committees of the governing body then you will also have to attend the meetings. The committees usually meet at least once a term, but some meet more than others.
Training and development governor
Some schools appoint a governor to monitor skills development across the governing body to ensure that any gaps in appropriate skills and knowledge of governors are identified through a skills audit. The training and development governor will keep a record of the training each governor has attended, keep up to date with training opportunities and encourage governors to participate in ones relevant to them.
Health and safety governor
Governing bodies have a responsibility to ensure that the school has effective health and safety policies in place which meet local and national guidance. Some governing bodies appoint a health and safety governor who carries out health and safety inspections of the school at least once a term, keeps up to date with legal developments, attends additional training and provides information and reports to the governing body.
Governors provide support and challenge at meetings to ensure the best outcomes for children, however it is the headteacher who runs the school and not the governing body. To assist governors in their role, they will receive and discuss reports from the local authority and the headteacher at governing body meetings and committees. At these meetings the governing body will:
- guide the school’s aims and strategies
- review performances
- consider problems and possible solutions
- fulfil statutory obligations
- make decisions in the best interests of pupils, staff and the wider community
The overall aim is to take general responsibility for the school’s conduct and ensure that high standards of achievement are promoted. The governing body does not:
- inspect the school or members of staff
- decide on the way pupils are taught
- have the right to exclude pupils
- manage the day-to-day aspects of school life
Special educational needs and disability governor
Governing bodies have specific legal responsibilities in relation to pupils with special educational needs and disability and many governing bodies appoint a specific send governor. The SEN governor liaises with the school’s send coordinator and ensures that the governing body fulfils its responsibilities for special educational needs.