Governing boards of all Local Authority maintained schools have a minimum of seven members, (12 members for a Voluntary Aided (VA) School) made up of a number of different categories of governor. There is no upper limit but they must include:
- two elected parents
- one member of staff
- the headteacher
- one Local Authority governor.
Regardless of their category and how they are appointed, all governors have equal status.
Governing boards can choose the size and composition that suits their working arrangements (provided it complies with legal requirements). Not all categories appear on every governing board as they vary according to the category of school. Governing boards should review their effectiveness regularly including the extent to which their size and structure is fit for purpose and their members have the necessary skills. Academies have greater freedom to choose the composition of their governing board but they too must have at least two elected parent places.
Each category of governor has a different appointment or election procedure and there are some restrictions on who may serve in a particular category.
Instrument of Government (IOG)
This is the legal document that records the constitution of the governing board of all maintained schools as well as the term of office for each category of governor and the name of the school. The governing board can request a change to the IOG subject to the approval by the LA.
The head teacher is a member of the governing board by virtue of their office but they can choose whether or not to be a governor. As a governor, the head teacher can attend all meetings of the governing board and its committees. If they decide not to be a governor, they still have the right to attend all meetings, but cannot vote and their position cannot be taken by anyone else.
Co-opted governors may serve on governing boards of all maintained schools. They are selected and appointed by the governing board and if, in the opinion of the governing board, they have the skills, experience and attributes needed. They can include parents and members of the school staff but, when counted the total staff including the head teacher and one elected staff governor and any staff members co-opted must not exceed one third of the total membership of the governing board.
Local Authority governors
Local Authority governors are nominated by the Local Authority but appointed by the governing board based on set criteria determined following a skills audit. There is one place for a Local Authority governor on every maintained school governing board. No one who is eligible to be a staff governor can be appointed as a Local Authority governor.
There are foundation governors at church schools and foundation schools that have a trust. They are appointed either by the relevant diocese (often from nominations from a local priest or vicar), or by the trust. In church schools, the vicar may be an ex officio foundation governor. They should have the skills to contribute to the effective governance of the school and seek to uphold the school’s character including religious character where it has one.
There is just one place for a staff governor who is elected by secret ballot. They can be either a teacher or a member of the support staff and must be employed by the school or the LA to work at the school under a contract of employment. Staff governors cannot be appointed if there are no nominations. They cease to hold office if they cease to work at the school.
There must be a position for at least two elected Parent governors on all governing boards of maintained schools and academies. Parent governors are usually elected from the parents of registered pupils at the school. Anyone who fits the definition of a parent can be nominated to stand as a parent governor: “Any individual who has or has had parental responsibility for, or cares or has cared for, a child or young person under the age of 18.”
If there are more candidates than vacant positions, an election will take place by secret ballot. If there are the same number of candidates as vacancies, then all candidates are elected unopposed. If insufficient nominations are received, a parent governor can be appointed by the governing board.
Associate members are appointed by the governing board to serve on one or more governing board committees. They may also attend full governing board meetings. They are not governors and therefore do not have a vote in governing board decisions, but may be given a vote on decisions made by committees to which they are appointed. Associated members should be appointed because of the specific expertise and experience they can contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.
There are partnership governors only at foundation schools. They are appointed by the governing board from nominations received from the local community and parents of pupils at the school and they must have, in the opinion of the governing board, the skills needed to contribute to the effective governance of the school. They cannot be members of staff or parents of pupils currently attending the school, elected members or people employed by the LA in connection with its education functions.
Academies do not have an instrument of government. Instead, the Company’s Articles of Association will determine the make-up of Directors of the Academy Trust and a Scheme of Delegation will determine the make-up of the Local Governing Body.