Schools governors work to plan the strategic direction of the school, oversee budgets, and support and challenge the headteacher. As part of the governing board, governors play a vital role in helping schools run efficiently and effectively to give children the best education possible.

Schools with strong governing boards are better equipped to make important decisions that affect the education they provide for their pupils.

What do school governors do?

School governors have three core functions:

  • Planning the strategic direction of the school
  • Overseeing financial performance of the school and ensuring money is well spent
  • Holding the headteacher or school leadership to account

The governor role is strategic rather than operational. Governors don’t get involved with the day to day running of a school, instead supporting and challenging the leadership team to drive school improvement.

As a school governor, you’ll attend full board meetings every term, where you’ll hear updates from the headteacher and discuss any strategic priorities.

Why is it important that schools have a strong governing board?

Headteachers are experts at what they do, but they don’t always have experience in other key areas like HR, law, or finance. Governors with a background in different areas can support their school in numerous ways, from helping hire a new headteacher, joining disciplinary panels, assessing the premises, and finding new suppliers.

The headteacher focuses on the operational side of running a school, and governors are there to support with the strategic decisions. A strong board means that strategic decisions can be properly considered, leading to improve outcomes both financially and for children’s education.

It’s important that boards are diverse so that there isn’t a danger of group-think and that decisions are made robustly with input from people with a variety of lived experiences – as well as varied skills. It’s also vital that children see people of all backgrounds in board-level positions. Diverse boards help ensure effective governance, which leads to improved educational outcomes for children.

How much of a commitment is being a school governor?

Volunteering as a school governor fits around your day job – most meetings are outside of working hours, and there are usually around 6 meetings a year.

You might be part of a committee as well as a member of the board, which is an opportunity for you to get more involved in a specific area. Often schools have finance committees to look in-depth at the budget, as well as a curriculum committee and safeguarding.

However, it’s important to prepare thoroughly for meetings by reading the papers the week before, making note of questions to ask, and occasionally visiting the school for learning walks.

There may be times that demand more of your energy – if your school is recruiting a new headteacher, for example, or if Ofsted are inspecting.

School governors are volunteers, and schools are mindful of this, but in order to get the most out of the role and support the school effectively, you must be able to commit to the role. Being a school governor is a responsibility, but offers you the chance to see first-hand the impact you can make in improving education for children in your community.

Who can volunteer as a school governor?

You don’t need to be a parent or teacher to become a school governor. While parents and those with education experience make great governors, neither are requirements to volunteer. Many schools want an outside perspective and rely on those with business acumen to bring challenge to the board.

If you’re interested in joining a school board, register to attend our upcoming webinar on 27th November where you can learn more about the role and how to apply.

Ready to apply?

Complete our application form and we’ll match your skills and preferences with a school in need.