Governing Bodies are responsible for governance in maintained schools. Trustees/Local Governors/Directors are terms used across academies to describe those responsible for governance in academies. We refer to them as Trustees when referencing academies.
Those responsible for governance come from all walks of life and bring a range of skills to Governing Bodies/Trust Boards. You don’t have to be an education professional to be a Governor/Trustee but you do have to be passionate about education and be willing to commit time to work with the school/academy.
Governing Bodies/Trustees are the strategic leaders of our schools/academies and have a vital role to play in making sure every pupil gets the best possible education.
The role of a Governor/Trustee is demanding but very rewarding and is a good way to give back to your local community.
What do Governors/Trustees do?
Those responsible for governance have three core functions:
- Setting the Strategic Direction – Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
- Creating Robust Accountability – Holding leaders to account for educational performance and the performance management of staff
- Overseeing Financial Performance – Ensuring solvency and effective financial management
The work of the Governing Body/Trust Board is strategic and as such is driven by the School Improvement Plan.
Discussions, decisions and actions for Governors/Trustees focus on the quality of education including outcomes, assessment and the curriculum as well as finance, staffing matters, use and condition of premises, pupils’ well being, working with stakeholders, admissions and organisational changes.
The full Governing Body/Trust Board must meet at least three times per academic year, but most meet more frequently through committee meetings. There is an expectation that Governors/Trustees join committees and will also undertake monitoring visits to find out more about the school/academy as well as attend training regularly to keep their knowledge and understanding up to date. Meetings take place throughout the year and Governors/Trustees work closely with the Headteacher, making decisions collectively as a team.
Interested in becoming a Governor/Trustee?
There are different categories of Governor in maintained schools depending on the type of school. A maintained school Governing Body may consist of parent, staff, co-opted, local authority, foundation Governors and associate members (associate members are not Governors).
Parent Governors are elected by other parents at the school. Any parent, or carer, of a registered pupil at the school at the time of election is eligible to stand for election as a Parent Governor. Parent Governors may continue to hold office until the end of their term of office even if their child leaves the school.
Schools must make every reasonable effort to fill Parent Governor vacancies through elections. However, the regulations make provision for the Governing Body to appoint Parent Governors where there are not enough parents standing for election.
A person is disqualified from election or appointment as a Parent Governor of a school if they are a County Councillor or if they work at the school for more than 500 hours in a school year.
Local Authority Governors are nominated by the Local Authority but appointed by the Governing Body. The Local Authority can nominate any eligible person, but it is for the Governing Body to decide whether their nominee has the skills to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.
Local Authority Governors, once appointed, fulfil their duties as any other Governor would do. In the same way that a Parent Governor does not represent the views of all parents at a school, but is a representative parent, so the Local Authority Governor does not represent the views of the LA, but is a representative of the wider community. The LA does not mandate its appointees with the role of promoting the LA’s views on issues.
A person is disqualified from being appointed as a Local Authority Governor if they are eligible to be a Staff Governor of that school.
Teaching and support staff, who, at the time of election are employed by either the Governing Body or the Local Authority to work at the school under a contract of employment, are eligible to be Staff Governors. Staff Governors are elected by the school staff and must be paid to work at the school, volunteers are not eligible. They cease to hold office when they cease to work at the school.
There can only be one Staff Governor. However, Governing Bodies may appoint members of staff as Co-opted Governors subject to restrictions as explained under the relevant section below.
The Headteacher is a member of the Governing Body by virtue of their office. The Headteacher may at any time resign as a Governor, and withdraw their resignation, in both cases by notifying the clerk in writing.
Co-opted Governors are appointed by the Governing Body. They are people who in the opinion of the Governing Body have the skills required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.
In Voluntary Aided and Controlled schools Foundation Governors form the majority of Governors. This reflects the financial contribution made by the Church to the maintenance and improvement of the buildings, and the requirement that Voluntary Aided and Controlled schools should provide Christian religious education and worship in accordance with the school's Trust Deed.
Foundation Governors are either appointed by either the Diocese, the church or some other foundation body to represent the providers of the school or take the role by virtue of an office that they hold (ex officio). An ex officio office in a Voluntary Aided or Voluntary Controlled schools this is usually the incumbent, the vicar, rector, or priest in charge of the parish in which the school is situated
Roman Catholic Diocese: Director of Schools Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle, St Cuthbert’s House, West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE15 7PY, Telephone: 0191 243 3313
Church of England Diocese: Diocesan Board of Education, Education Board Ltd, Church House, St John’s Terrace, Percy Main, North Shields, E29 6HS, Telephone: 0191 270 4100
Associate Members are not Governors but are appointed to the Governing Body because it is felt they can offer particular skills or areas of expertise. They may have limited voting rights.
The specific details of the constitution of an Academy Board and procedures for appointing Trustees to that Board are set out in each Academy’s Articles of Association. The Academy website has details of their own specific makeup.
If you are interested in becoming a Governor/Trustee, please contact us for more information about current vacancies.
Those responsible for governance, whether in a maintained school or an academy must meet the eligibility criteria as below:
To be eligible, you must declare that you:
- Are over 18 years of age at the time of election or appointment and are not a registered pupil at the school [not applicable to Associate Members];
- Do not already hold a Governorship at the same school;
- Have not previously failed to attend meetings of the Governing Body, without the consent of the Governing Body, for a continuous period of six months, beginning with the date of the first meeting missed (not applicable to the Headteacher or ex officio Governors);
- Are not the subject of a bankruptcy restrictions order or an interim order or debt relief restrictions order or interim order;
- Have not had your estate sequestrated and the sequestration has not been discharged, annulled or reduced;
- Are not subject to:
- a disqualification order or disqualification undertaking under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986
- a disqualification order under the Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 2002
- a disqualification undertaking accepted under the Company Directors Disqualification (Northern Ireland) Order 2002
- an order made under Section 429(2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986 (failure to pay under a County Court administration order);
- Have not been removed from the office of trustee for a charity by an order made by the Charity Commission or Commissioners or High Court on grounds of any misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of the charity, or under Section 34 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 from being concerned in the management or control of any body;
- Have not been removed from office as an elected Governor within the last 5 years;
- Are not included in the list of people considered by the Secretary of State as unsuitable to work with children or young people;
- Are not barred from any regulated activity relating to children;
- Are not subject to a direction of the Secretary of State under Section 142 of the Education Act 2002 or Section 128 of the Education and Skills Act 2008;
- Are not disqualified from working with children or from registering for child-minding or providing day care;
- Are not disqualified from being an independent school proprietor, teacher or employee by the Secretary of State;
- Have not been sentenced to three months or more in prison (without the option of a fine) in the 5 years ending with the date preceding the date of appointment/election as a Governor or since becoming a Governor (subject to certain exceptions for oversees offences that do not correlate with a UK offence.);
- Have not received a prison sentence of 2.5 years or more in the 20 years ending with the date preceding the date of appointment/election as a Governor (subject to certain exceptions for oversees offences that do not correlate with a UK offence);
- Have not at any time received a prison sentence of 5 years or more (subject to certain exceptions for oversees offences that do not correlate with a UK offence);
- Have not been convicted and fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school or educational premises during the 5 years ending with the date immediately preceding appointment/election as a Governor;
- Have not refused a request that an application to the Disclosure and Barring Service for a Criminal Records Certificate be made.
To be eligible, you must declare that you:
- are over 18 years of age at the time of election or appointment
- are capable of managing and administering your own affairs
- do not have an unspent conviction relating to any offence involving deception or dishonesty;
- have not been adjudged bankrupt nor had my estate sequestrated (and in either case have not been discharged)
- are not a person who has made a composition or arrangement with, or granted a trust deed for, creditors, and has not been discharged in respect of it
- are not disqualified to act as a director under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986
- are not subject to an order made under S.429 (2)(b) of the Insolvency Act 1986
- have not been removed as 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
- are not subject to an order under S.7 of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1990, preventing me from being concerned in the management or control of any relevant organisation or body
- are not subject to a disqualification order under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000
- are not included in the list kept under S.1 Protection of Children Act 1999 or subject to a direction of the Secretary of State under S.142 Education Action 2002 (or any other disqualification, prohibition or restriction which takes effect as if contained in such a direction)
- are not disqualified from registration under Part 10A Children Act 1989 for child minding or providing day care or from registration under Part 3 of the Childcare Action 2006;
- are not disqualified from being the proprietor of any independent school or from being a teacher or other employee in any school
- have not, in the five years prior to becoming a Governor taking effect, received a sentence of imprisonment, suspended or otherwise, for a period of not less than three months without the option of a fine
- have not, at any time, had passed on me a sentence of imprisonment for a period of not less then five years or had passed on me a sentence of imprisonment for a period of not less than two and a half years in the preceding 20 years
- have not been convicted or fined, in the five years prior to becoming a Governor, for causing a nuisance or disturbance on education premises pursuant to S.547 Education Act 1996(Academies claiming gift aid only)
- have not been involved in tax fraud or other fraudulent behaviour including misrepresentation and/or identity theft
- have not used a tax avoidance scheme featuring charitable reliefs or using a charity to facilitate avoidance
- have not been involved in designing and/or promoting tax avoidance schemes
All Governors/Trustees and Associate Members are required to undertake a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check for more information follow this link.
What we can offer your school?
We offer a wide range of support to those responsible for governance in schools and academies in County Durham and across the region.
Through service level agreements we provide:
We also offer bespoke support through Governance Self Reviews and External Reviews of Governance.