Why volunteer to be a school governor or trustee?
School governors and trustees make a valuable contribution to children’s education, opportunities and futures.
Being a school governor or trustee is a challenging but hugely rewarding role. It will give you the chance to make a real difference to young people, give something back to your local community and use and develop your skills in a board-level environment. You will also be joining the largest volunteer force in the country: there are over a quarter of a million volunteers governing state funded schools in England.
Schools need governing boards that have a balance and diversity of knowledge, skills and experience to enable it to be effective. Ofsted (the national inspection body for schools) has repeatedly noted that the most effective schools demonstrate effective leadership and management – which includes the governing board.
Who can become a school governor or trustee?
Anyone aged 18 or over can be a governor or trustee (but there are some exceptions) and you do not need to be a parent. There is no requirement for you to have an understanding of the education system, just the necessary skills, character and time to contribute. There is plenty of training available to help you learn about education. Schools needs and benefit from a range of professional knowledge on their governing board including education, finance, human resources, legal, marketing and public relations, property and estates management, and organisational change.
As a governor or trustee, you will be able to:
What type of Governors are there?
There are also different categories of governor including parent and staff appointed. If you do not have a connection of this nature to the school, you will be a co-opted or board governor invited to join the board for the skills you can contribute. 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 board.
What do governors do?
The governing board provides strategic leadership and accountability in schools. It has three key functions:
Governors set the aims and objectives for the school or group of schools and set the policies and targets for achieving those aims and objectives. They monitor and evaluate the progress the school is making and act as a source of challenge and support to the headteacher. In action, this means:
Governors and trustees should also be committed to their role and to young people; confident in having courageous conversations; curious with an enquiring mind; able to challenge the status quo to improve things; collaborative to build strong relationships; critical to improve their own work and that of the board; and creative in problem solving and being innovative.
Role description of Governor insert link to document
What will be expected of me?
The average time commitment is five to eight hours per month, although it will vary depending on the needs of the school and the role. This includes meetings, background reading and school visits. As well as full governing board meetings, many schools have various committees and link governor roles which you may like to contribute to – this depends on each individual school.
Like magistrates or members of a jury, school governors and trustees have a right to reasonable time off work for their public duties, although this may be unpaid. Your company’s HR department will be able to tell you about its policy.
The term of office is four years. Many people choose to serve multiple terms, however as a volunteer you can resign before your term is finished if your circumstances change.
Individual governors may not act independently of the rest of the governing board; decisions are the joint responsibility of the governing board. Governance is a voluntary role and therefore it is not paid.
Contact the Chair of Governors Ms Farida Braza to find out if there are any vacancies at Dormers Wells Infant and Junior school at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What happens next?
If there is a suitable vacancy we will invite you to undertake an interview, visit the school and perhaps observe a governing board meeting. These are an opportunity for the school to ensure you are right for their governing board and for you to decide that the school is right for you, helping both to make an informed decision.
It is good practice for Dormers Wells Infant and Junior School to take up references before confirming their decision to appoint you so do be prepared to provide these if requested. You will need to complete a declaration of interests for to declare any conflicts of interest you will have including conflicts of loyalty and financial interests – this information must be published by the school on its website. You must undergo an enhanced DBS check, and your appointment will be subject to this – this will be carried out by the school. Once all this is in place, the full governing board can then make a decision about your appointment.
What training and support is available?
There is no requirement for you to have any specific training to be a governor or trustee. Our school and local authority induction process will help you get up to speed. There is plenty of training and support available for new volunteers on online resources such as The Key and the National Governors Association.