Types of school governor and governing boards
A governing board is made up of people from the school and wider community. We’ve outlined the types of governors you can expect to see around a governing board.
Co-opted (sometimes referred to as Community) – Maintained School
The majority of governors we place are co-opted governors. These volunteers don’t have to have a connection to the school, religion, or local authority. Co-opted governors, in the opinion of the governing board, have the skills and experience required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school. They are sometimes called community governors as they often (but not always) come from the community the school is in and know the needs of that community well. They will act in the best interests of the school and the wider community.
In a maintained school, co-opted governors will generally have more of a role to play in things like finance than governors who sit on the board of an academy.
Local Governor/Academy Council Rep – Academy school
Local governors/academy council representative governors sit on the board of a school that’s part of an academy trust. They need to have the skills and experience required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school and their appointment will either be agreed by the school board (who provide governance at school level) or the trust board (who provide governance across the whole academy trust).
Academy trusts have more flexibility than maintained schools in how they delegate responsibilities to governors at each academy in the trust and what they call those governors, so this can vary from trust to trust. Generally, governors at an academy don’t tend to have as much to do with finance as maintained school governors do, as the trustees (who provide governance across the whole academy trust) handle this.
If this is the kind of position you are interested in, the person from the school or board you meet with will be able to explain a little more about what responsibilities of a local governor look like at that academy.
Foundation governors are appointed to the governing boards of voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools to preserve the religious character of the school. There are foundation governors in every Church of England school and also in Roman Catholic schools. Together these schools make up more than one third of the state school sector.
Governing boards usually have between 2-4 parent governors, who are there to offer a perspective from the parent community on the board. If a school can’t recruit a parent governor, a proxy parent governor can join the board. A proxy parent governor is simply someone who has children of school age. Nurseries often have to do this given the short amount of time children spend in nursery. Parent governors have the same responsibilities as other types of governor.
A staff governor is elected as a representative staff member on the board. Their role is to bring a staff perspective to discussions held by the governing board.
A board may appoint associate members. When a school has no governor vacancies but is in need of someone with specific skills, this may be a helpful option. Similarly, if a governor is retiring, a governing board may decide to recruit an associate to bridge the gap. Often, schools will consider associate members first when any vacancies arise on the full governing board. Associate members have no voting rights on the full governing board, but may vote on any committees to which they have been appointed.
Governors who are nominated by the local authority but appointed by the governing board. We work with many local authorities to find volunteers for these roles. Often the requirement is simply someone who lives or works within the local authority but this can differ.
The chair, with support from the vice-chair(s) and the clerk, is responsible for ensuring the effective functioning of the board by keeping it focused on its core functions. The chair and vice-chair(s) should encourage the board to work together as an effective team, building its skills, knowledge and experience.
Sometimes schools have a very specific role in mind for new governors. For example, they may want someone who generally contributes to the board with their skills and experience, but also has expertise or knowledge on a particular topic or area. If we’ve suggested that you would be a good match with this school, there is something they need that we’ve identified on your application, and someone from the school or board will be able to talk to you in more detail about what this is when you meet them.
Similar to a company board, trustees are high-level governors who are both company directors and charity trustees. Trustees have legal responsibilities that governors don’t, as the trust is liable should anything go wrong.