School governors

Use this guide to learn more about what a school governor’s role is, and apply to become a school governor.

What do school governors do?

All governing boards, whether in the maintained or academy sector, and no matter how many schools they are responsible for, have three core functions:

  1. ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  2. holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
  3. overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.

Governors work with the headteacher and senior leadership team to drive the strategic development of the school and raise standards of achievement. Duties include setting the school’s vision, aims and objectives, approving the school budget and appointing the headteacher.

Governors are there to provide oversight and accountability - they don’t get involved in the day-to-day management of the school.

See 'What do Governors do?' for more information. Governors must have the necessary skills and/or experience to be able to support and challenge the headteacher, and need to gain an understanding of the school’s overall performance in order to explain its decisions and actions.

Legally, governing boards are corporate boards, so responsibility and the power to take action and make decisions lies with the board as a whole, not its individual members. Governors work as a team and make collective decisions.

The governing board should have an ethos of high expectations of everyone in the school community, including high expectations for behaviour, progress and attainment of all pupils, and for the conduct and professionalism of both staff and governors.

Governors need to be committed, have the inquisitiveness to question and analyse, and the willingness to learn. They need good interpersonal skills, an appropriate level of literacy and be sufficiently numerate to understand basic data.