The role of school governors

School governors are volunteers who help run schools. They play an important role in managing, supporting and improving schools.

Governors sit on the school’s governing board and work with the school to ensure it improves each year. The governing board has three core functions:

  • To ensure the clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • To hold executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  • To oversee the financial performance of the organisation and make sure its money is well spent

These core functions cover a host of responsibilities for which the governing board is accountable; for example:

  • Approving the school budget
  • Performance managing the headteacher
  • Recruiting a new headteacher when necessary
  • Approving certain school policies (and ensuring all statutory policies are in place)
  • Hearing appeals for things like exclusions, staff disciplinary and grievance issues and complaints

In Voluntary Aided schools, the governing board also has additional responsibilities for buildings, admissions, health and safety and the employment and dismissal of staff.

As a governor, you will be expected to attend meetings of the full governing board and any committee to which you are assigned and visit the school for monitoring purposes or to support the school leadership. Governing boards will also usually allocate oversight for a specific area (e.g. Health & Safety, Pupil Premium, Special Educational Needs) to individual governors.  It is important that governors undertake regular training to help them make an effective contribution to the work of the governing board and to stay abreast of changes in the world of education.  For more information about training, please click here.

Every school is required to have an Instrument of Government in relation to their governing board.  This shows the total numbers of governors and their category required to form the governing board.  The different categories of governors in church schools are as follows:

Category How appointed Number
Parent governors who have a child at the school and are elected by the parent body Minimum of 2
Staff governors who are employed by the school and are elected by the staff body 1
Co-opted governors appointed by the governing board for their specific skills and expertise As many as governing board decide are required within limits of Instrument of Government
Local authority governors nominated by the LA to be a link between the LA and the school – appointed by the governing board 1
Foundation governors appointed to uphold, support and promote the Christian ethos of the school.  All Church of England schools must have foundation governors.  Appointments are most commonly made by the Bishop, Diocesan Board of Education or Parochial Church Council.  See below for further information. VC/Foundation school – minimum of 2, maximum of 25% of total governing board.

VA school – foundation governors need to be in a majority of 2

Headteacher Member of the governing board by virtue of their office 1


The role of Foundation Governors

Foundation governors are the representatives of the Church of England on the governing board.

All Church of England schools must have foundation governors. In Voluntary Aided (VA) schools, they must outnumber all other categories of governor combined by a majority of two. In Voluntary Controlled (VC) schools, there must be at least two foundation governors, but they must not exceed one quarter of the total number of governor places.

The Foundation Governor role can helpfully be thought of as nurturing, encouraging and challenging the school in living out its christian foundation and can be done by:

  • Encouraging positive links between the school, the parish church and the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE)
  • Taking an active role in monitoring the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMS) process and ensuring recommendations contained in the reports are considered and addressed
  • Encouraging the high status of quality Collective Worship and Religious Education within the school, ensuring that it is monitored effectively and that the appropriate guidelines and/or syllabus are followed
  • Ensuring that the development of the school as a church school is a regular part of school self-evaluation
  • Bringing to the attention of the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) any matters requiring their attention regarding the school
  • Ensuring that the Christian ethos of the school is encouraged throughout its community and is reflected in its policies and protocols, the curriculum and activities
  • Ensuring that their own attitudes and behaviour in relation to the school, and the way the Governing Board conducts its business reflect the school’s Christian ethos
  • Supporting the role of clergy in school
  • Reporting back to the Parochial Church Council (for PCC appointed governors)

Whilst many Foundation Governors are active members of the Church of England, this is not an absolute requirement. Foundation Governors may be appointed who attend church but are not necessarily baptised or communicants. They may be members of other Christian denominations. There is also discretion to appoint those who are not members of a church or faith community where this is felt to be locally appropriate. However, all candidates must declare that they will uphold the Christian ethos of the school.

If you are interested in being appointed as a Foundation Governor, please click here.