Governors are people who want to make a positive contribution to children’s education. They make up one of the largest volunteer forces in the country and have an important part to play in raising school standards.

According to Ofsted, the most effective academies have a high standard of management, which includes the leadership of the academy committee.

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Who can become a governor?

Almost anyone over the age of 18 can become a governor. There are no particular qualifications or requirements, other than a willingness to give time to the role, a capacity for working with other people and a desire to ensure that all children receive the best possible outcomes.

The academy committee consists of governors from all walks of life, falling into one of a number of different categories:

  • parent governors (also open to grandparents and foster carers)
  • staff governors
  • governors appointed by the academy committee
  • diocesan governors in a religious designated academy

The type of governor you will become depends on your situation, however all governors have the same roles and responsibilities once part of the committee. Any particular skills or experience you have will be utilised, where relevant, for the benefit of the academy.

Why become a governor?

Being an academy governor is a hugely rewarding form of voluntary work. It offers the opportunity to make a real contribution to the education of our younger generation right at the cutting edge. In return for the commitment that all our governors make, the academy will:

  • provide you with a structured induction
  • provide access to quality training
  • assign you an experienced governor as a mentor
  • support you in your duties

 Frequently Asked Questions

When and where will the meeting be held?

Most local academy committee meetings are held at the academy but on occasion these might be held online via MS Teams. The times of meetings vary between different academy committees. We do not hold hybrid meetings.

Meetings usually start between 4pm – 6pm but your governance professional will advise you of the time and date of the meeting for your specific academy and we would recommend that you arrange to meet them or your governor mentor just ahead of the meeting so that you can be shown where the meeting is being held.

How long will a meeting last?

Approximately two hours which will usually include a short training session.

Do I need to print all the paperwork to take to the meeting?

This is often down to personal preference; some governors like to have paper copies which they print themselves but most use laptops or tablets to access papers via our governance Sharepoint area during the meeting. There is no right or wrong.

However, all document handling should have due regard to the restrictions imposed by our data protection policies and any printouts must be kept secure and destroyed afterwards if it contains any personal or sensitive data. Your academy will brief you on the guidelines.

Who else will be at the meeting?

At each governor meeting you can expect to meet all other governors, the academy principal and executive principal and the governance professional.

Additional academy staff may be invited to the meeting for specific agenda items to provide a report to the academy committee. Their attendance and reason for attending will be shown on the agenda.

How should I prepare for my first meeting?

Ideally, ahead of your first meeting you will have met with the chair of governors, the governance professional and the principal and toured the academy. This provides valuable context for discussions that will take place, but don’t worry if you haven’t had this – it can take place another time.

We also recommend that you be given the opportunity to meet with a mentor governor to go through the previous meeting minutes and agenda so that you are up to speed on the discussion planned for the meeting. The governance professional will facilitate this for you.

It is very important that you prepare for the meeting by carefully reading all of the paperwork that your governance professional has sent to you/advised you of. Make a note of any questions that you have and don’t be afraid to ask them – there are no silly questions!

Will I have to speak at the first meeting?

You will probably be invited to introduce yourself to the other governors and asked to give a little background.

There should be no pressure on you to speak, but don’t be afraid to question anything that you do not understand or to ask any questions that you have noted in your preparation or that arise during the meeting.

How many meetings do I have to attend?

Each of the academies within Diverse Academies Trust hold six meetings per academic year: two per term. If you are a governor at a secondary academy, you may also be asked to attend a meeting at the start of the academic year to receive information about the exam results that have been issued in August.

A meeting cannot make any decisions until there is a minimum number of voting members, a quorum. Without a quorum, the meeting is never properly constituted, but general discussions and updates may still be received. However, it is important that all governors make every effort to attend all possible meetings they are invited to.

The quorum for a local academy committee meeting is 50% of governors who are appointed.

You may be asked to be a link governor for a specific area within the academy e.g. safeguarding and write a report following your visit/meeting with the subject lead. If this is the case, you will initially accompany another governor until you are confident in taking on the role on your own.

It is also very useful for you to carry out visits to the academy either during the day or attending open evenings and events in the academy.

Occasionally we ask governors to sit on student discipline panels and if you are interested in this and have daytime availability you will receive training.

Am I entitled to time off from work to attend meetings?

Under employment law, employers are required to give ‘reasonable time off’ to allow employees who volunteer as a governor to undertake their duties. It should be noted, however, that this leave of absence can be with or without pay.

This is at the employer’s own discretion and needs to be agreed between you and your employer. What constitutes ‘reasonable time off’ is not defined in law and is an area for negotiation, again, between you and your employer.

As a governor do I hold any personal liability?

Accountability lies with the individuals who are registered at Companies House as directors. In an academic setting these people are called trustees of the board. Trustees are responsible for the academy trust and any academies it supports.

In most cases, if something goes wrong at an academy and a claim is brought, it is not brought against individuals but against the Trust.

Only in very rare occasions will individual governors be held personally responsible for a decision.

Our insurance policy covers any liability incurred by Trustees if they are acting within the scope of their role.

If you are appointed as a governor on a local academy committee, you are not ‘accountable’, but governors on an academy committee are delegated some ‘responsibility’ by the board of trustees within our scheme of delegation and terms of reference.

What support is available to me in my role?

When you join the academy committee you should receive several documents to help you in your role, including:

  • Governor induction manual and induction checklist
  • Governance handbook.

Your governance professional will be in touch with you to arrange a full induction which will include a meeting with the academy principal and a tour of the academy. They will provide you with lots of documents that will help you build a full picture of the academy, where it is doing well and what the improvement priorities are. There are also a number of forms that we need completing as part of your onboarding process.

Please do not be overwhelmed by this information, you are not expected to learn it all overnight!

You will also receive:

  • Access to a training platform and details of the modules that you must complete as a new governor
  • Access to the governance Sharepoint area which is a platform that supports all governors and includes governor resources, guidance and papers provided for each meeting.

We recommend that each new governor is assigned a mentor from their academy committee and your governance professional or chair of governors should let you know who your mentor is and how you can contact them.

After a year in your role, you will have an opportunity to have a review with the chair of governors to discuss what has gone well, what challenges you may have faced and what support, if any, you need.

I have been asked to declare any pecuniary or business interests, why is this?

A governor must avoid using their position as a governor for personal gain or the gain of other outside parties. It is a requirement that a register of pecuniary interests is maintained to enable each individual governor to declare any personal or pecuniary interests. This register must be published on the academy website and must also include any governance roles in any other educational establishment.

Are there any restrictions to me being a school governor?

Yes. There are a number of restrictions that prevent a person from becoming a school governor.

  • A governor must be aged 18 or over at the time of their election or appointment and cannot be a registered student at the academy.
  • For a full list of disqualifying actions or inactions, see this linked list.

If your circumstances change throughout your term as a governor, related to any of the linked points, then you must inform your governance professional immediately.

Do I need any special qualifications to be a governor?

You do not need any special qualifications other than to care about children and young people’s education, have an interest in the community, a willingness to learn new skills and some spare time!

Can I be a governor at more than one school or academy?

Yes, but we would advise that you discuss this and your ability to commit to both roles fully with the chairs of governors at both schools/academies.

If you do govern in more than one academy/school then you must declare this on your declaration of interests form at both places and this information must be published on the academy website.

I have been appointed as a staff or parent governor. What are my responsibilities in this role?

Staff and parent governors are representatives of the staff/parent body but do not have a mandate to put forward a particular point of view.

The staff/parent governor, like any governor, should always act in accordance with the interests of the pupils. It is crucial to remember that, as a governor, the first responsibility is to the academy and the academy committee. The staff/parent governor also brings specialist knowledge and skills to the committee, which can help in several ways and may include:

  • Explaining the likely effect of any proposal on pupils’ learning or wellbeing.
  • Drawing attention to the likely effect of a proposal on the staff/pupils.

If you are appointed into a staff/parent governor role, you will receive additional guidance upon appointment.

If you would like to discuss being a governor, or opportunities available at Redgate Primary Academy, please contact the clerk to the governors, Emma Paine, at epaine@diverse-ac.org.uk