Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)


Who can be a school governor?
What qualifications do governors need?
What do school governors do?
Realistically, how much time would be needed to properly do the work of a school governor?
How long do governors serve?
How do governing bodies operate?
I am not a parent of a school-aged child can I still be a school governor?
What about time off work to be a governor?
Can governors be financially liable?
What training and support is available?

Q. Who can be a school governor?

Every maintained school has a governing body. It will include:

  • Parents elected by other parents at the school or, in some cases appointed by other members of the governing body
  • Staff, teaching and non-teaching, elected by their colleagues
  • Local authority governors appointed by Elected Members of the Council. Such governors need not be an Elected Member or an employee of the Council
  • Representatives of the local community appointed by other members of the governing body
  • The Head Teacher if they choose to be a governor
  • Representatives of the Church in Voluntary Aided/Controlled schools
There are a number of criteria preventing certain persons being appointed as a governor:
  • You must be aged 18 or over at the date of this election or appointment;
  • You must not be the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or an interim order;
  • You must not have had your estate sequestrated (temporarily repossessed) and the sequestration has not been annulled or reduced;
  • You must not have been removed from the office of a charity trustee or trustee for a charity by an order made by the Charity Commissioners or the High Court on the grounds of any misconduct or mismanagement or, under section 7 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990, from being concerned in the management or control of any body;
  • You must not be subject to a disqualification order or disqualification undertaking under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 or an order made under section 429(2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (failure to pay under county court administration order);
  • You must not be included in the list (List 99) of teachers and workers with children or young persons whose employment is prohibited or restricted, nor subject to a disqualification order under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000;
  • You must not be disqualified from being the proprietor of any independent school or from being a teacher or other employee in any school;
  • In the five years, prior to becoming a governor, you must not have received a sentence of imprisonment, suspended or otherwise, for a period of not less than three months without the option of a fine; or have been fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on education premises;
  • In the twenty years prior to becoming a governor, you must not have been convicted as aforesaid of any offence and had passed on you a sentence of imprisonment for a period of not less than two and a half years;
  • You must not, at any time, have had passed on you a sentence of imprisonment for a period of not less than five years;
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Q. What qualifications do governors need?

To be a school governor you must be aged 18 or over, but you do not need any special qualification. Schools are keen to attract people in the community who can bring energy, experience, skills and fresh ideas. Those who would make very good governors may be put off because they think they need to be an expert. Not so interest, enthusiasm and commitment are much more important.

Governors bring a range of experience and interests from many walks of life. They need to work closely with others to make good decisions and make sure their decisions are followed up. It helps to be a good listener you will stand a much better chance of understanding how the school operates.

There are a number of criteria preventing certain persons being appointed as a governor:

  • You must be aged 18 or over at the date of this election or appointment;
  • You must not be the subject of a bankruptcy restriction order or an interim order;
  • You must not have had your estate sequestrated (temporarily repossessed) and the sequestration has not been annulled or reduced;
  • You must not have been removed from the office of a charity trustee or trustee for a charity by an order made by the Charity Commissioners or the High Court on the grounds of any misconduct or mismanagement or, under section 7 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990, from being concerned in the management or control of any body;
  • You must not be subject to a disqualification order or disqualification undertaking under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 or an order made under section 429(2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (failure to pay under county court administration order);
  • You must not be included in the list (List 99) of teachers and workers with children or young persons whose employment is prohibited or restricted, nor subject to a disqualification order under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000;
  • You must not be disqualified from being the proprietor of any independent school or from being a teacher or other employee in any school;
  • In the five years, prior to becoming a governor, you must not have received a sentence of imprisonment, suspended or otherwise, for a period of not less than three months without the option of a fine; or have been fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on education premises;
  • In the twenty years prior to becoming a governor, you must not have been convicted as aforesaid of any offence and had passed on you a sentence of imprisonment for a period of not less than two and a half years;
  • Your must not, at any time, have had passed on you a sentence of imprisonment for a period of not less than five years;
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Q. What do school governors do?

Governors work as a team to make sure the school provides a good quality education. The work of governors covers three main roles:

  • Strategic Role - setting the aims, plans and priorities of the school.
  • Critical Friend Role - supporting the school, monitoring progress and challenging the school to reach the highest possible standards.
  • Accountability Role - letting all those with an interest in the school know what has been achieved.
In all their work, they work closely alongside the Head teacher, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the school. Head teachers are chosen by governors and most Head teachers choose to be governors themselves. Examples of the work of the governing body:
  • Plan the school's future direction
  • Select the Head teacher
  • Make decisions on the schools budget and staffing
  • Make sure the National Curriculum is taught
  • Decide how the school can encourage pupils spiritual, moral and cultural development
  • Make sure the school provides for all its pupils, including those with special needs
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Q. Realistically, how much time would be needed to properly do the work of a school governor?

Governors need to be able to devote time to attend meetings and to read papers. It neednt be daunting but you have got to have some time to set aside. The amount of time varies but governing bodies are not looking for passengers who want the status without putting in the work.

The time you devote can vary widely, depending on how involved you become and what needs doing. Being a governor involves more than just taking an interest, though this is a crucial part of the job.

The governing body usually meets at least once a term. You would probably also sit on one or two committees dealing with matters relating to:

  • Finance
  • Staffing
  • Curriculum; or
  • Premises
A governor can also have responsibility for working alongside staff on how literacy or numeracy can be improved. One governor also oversees measures designed to make sure children with special needs are being properly catered for. Sometimes governors have to make difficult decisions about individual pupils or members of staff. At times it can be hard work but governors are never expected to work without help and support from others, inside the school and out.

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Q. How long do governors serve?

Governors normally serve for a term of office lasting four years but you can of course resign at any time after you are elected or appointed.

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Q. How do governing bodies operate?

Governors are at the heart of how a school operates. Its important they get things right. How they do their job affects the interests of pupils, staff morale and how the school is seen by parents and others in the community. Governors support and challenge Head teachers by gathering views, asking questions and deciding whats best for the school. They are not there to rubber stamp decisions. They have to be prepared to give and take and be loyal to decisions taken by the governing body as a whole. So long as they act within the law governors are protected from any financial liability for the decisions they take.

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Q. I am not a parent of a school-aged child can I still be a school governor?

You certainly dont need to be a parent to have the makings of a good governor. Retired people and those involved in the local business community have much to offer. If youve never thought of putting yourself forward, but believe schools should give children the best start, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you want to put something back into your local community?
  • Are you interested in people?
  • Are you prepared to work as part of a team?
  • Do you have the time to get to know your school, to go to meetings and read papers?
  • Are you comfortable asking questions?
  • Are you open to new ideas and ready to learn?
  • Do you want children to get the best from school?
If you can answer Yes then you could well have what it takes to be a school governor, and help make a difference to our childrens future.

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Q. What about time off work to be a governor?

The Employment Rights Act 1996 requires employers to permit employees who hold certain public positions, reasonable time off to perform the duties associated with the position. However, there is no obligation on an employer to make payment for time off.

Many employers encourage staff to become school governors. They realise that the skills gained from being a governor are transferable to the workplace.


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Q. Can governors be financially liable?

Governors have no individual financial responsibility. If a governor acts fraudulently it would be a normal criminal offence and subject to the normal processes of law.

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Q. What training and support is available?

To help governors in their role and work, training and support is available from a number of sources and includes:

  • Comprehensive training and advice offered by the School Governor Support Service
  • Guidance is issued by Central Government through the Department for Education (DfE))
  • National Governor Organisations also offer information.
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Last updated:
11/07/2016

Assigned review date:
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