Each school has a governing body which plays an important part in the life of the school.
Governing bodies are made up of local people and will include parents, people appointed by the local authority, school staff, and the headteacher. They may also include representatives of the local community and representatives of the church. The number of members will depend upon the size of the school.
School governors give their time, skills and expertise in a voluntary capacity, to help their schools provide children with the best possible education.
What does a governing body do?
The duties and powers of a governing body
Governing bodies have a range of duties and powers in legislation, including:
- promoting high standards of educational achievement and behaviour
- setting appropriate school targets for pupil achievement at Key Stage 2, 3 and 4
- taking general responsibility for the conduct of the school - in practice this means policy making and how, in broad strategic terms, the school should be run
- managing the school's budget, including determining the staff complement and making decisions on staff pay in accordance with the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD)
- making sure that the curriculum for the school is balanced and broadly based and in particular that the National Curriculum and religious education are taught
- providing parents with a report every year which includes information about National Curriculum assessments and examination results
- appointing the head teacher and deputy head teacher (with advice from the local authority and, in the case of voluntary aided and voluntary controlled schools the Diocese) and other staff and regulating staff conduct and discipline
- drawing up an action plan following an Estyn inspection
Information for prospective governors
Volunteering as a school governor gives you the opportunity to help to set the strategic direction of a school, broaden your skills and network, while also building up board-level experience. It’s a chance to see the impact of your decisions first-hand.
Requirements for being a school governor
Welsh Government regulations require that a governor must:
- be aged 18 or over at the time of his/her election or appointment, pupils may be governors but few are likely to be eligible
- not be a governor at more than two schools (unless as an ex-officio or temporary governor or an additional governor at a school causing concern)
- not be an ex-officio governor specified in the instrument of government of more than two schools
- not be bankrupt or disqualified under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 or an order made under section 429(2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986
- not have been removed from the office of charity trustee or trustee for a charity by the Charity Commissioners of High Court on 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
- not be included in the list of teachers or workers prohibited or restricted from working with children or young people (currently called List 99)
- not be liable to be detained under the Mental Health Act 1983
- not be disqualified from being a teacher, other school employee or an independent school proprietor
- not have been sentenced to three months or more in prison (without the option of a fine) in the five years before becoming a governor or since becoming a governor
- not have received a prison sentence of two and a half years or more in the 20 years before becoming a governor
- not at any time have received a prison sentence of five years or more
- not have been fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school premises during the five years prior to or since appointment or election as a governor.
You will need to apply for a DBS check to become a school governor. Please contact email@example.com for further details.
School governors are also required to complete mandatory training courses.
What experience do you need to be a school governor?
Schools need volunteers with a variety of life experiences. Whilst you do not need qualifications to be a governor, the following are important:
- a commitment to regularly attend meetings of the governing body and any committees to which you are appointed
- a desire to raise the standards of education within the school
- a willingness to share skills and expertise for the benefit of the governing body and the school
If you are a parent you will understand the concerns of parents. As a member of the community you can bring your knowledge of the local area.
What is the time commitment needed to be a school governor?
Typically full governing body meetings are held once a term (although some schools hold them more frequently). Your school may also have committees which you can be a member of (for example finance, standards and achievement, or wellbeing committees). There will be additional committees that you can get involved with, such as pupil discipline and exclusions or complaints.
Many school governors are in full-time work. Governors' meetings can take place during the working day, but are very often arranged for the evenings.
How long can you be a school governor for?
School governor terms are four years. If any eligible governor is interested in taking on a further four year term, they can put themselves forward for re-appointment/re-election.
Associate pupil governors on secondary school governing bodies hold office for one year.
What is the role of a link governor?
Governing bodies select a link governor for Additional Learning Needs and Child Protection to ensure schools meet statutory requirements in these important areas of school life.
Governing bodies may choose to appoint extra link governors depending on the needs of the school - for example they may be linked to areas of the curriculum or aspects of the School Development Plan.
Become a local authority governor
We are working with education charity Governors for Schools to help more people in our communities support local education through this vital role.
Governors for Schools is committed to helping ensure excellent education for children in schools through effective governance.
Apply via Governors for Schools
You’ll need to create an account with the charity to be able to apply.
You can also find out more about the role of school governors and further resources on the charity’s website.
Information for current governors
All governors must complete mandatory ‘Induction’ and ‘Understanding School Data’ training courses. Further training is also offered, covering topics such as: school budgets, Additional Learning Needs and wellbeing.
Newly appointed Chairs to the governing body must also complete mandatory ‘Chair of Governors’ training.
Online training is available via the e-learning for School Governors in Wales website (external link).
If you require a log in for the online training, please ask your clerk to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, email address, school and governor type.
Helping you in your role
As a governor you will receive a free subscription to access the Welsh Government’s Hwb digital platform where you can securely access papers for meetings. The platform also provides access the Office 365 which includes Outlook email for communicating with other members of your governing body, plus a whole range of other applications and learning resources.
If your school uses Hwb for governors, they will send you your username and password.