School governors - what they do and how to apply

School governors are skilled, motivated people who are committed to making an improvement in our schools.

Every school in Bedford Borough has its own governing board which is made up of staff from the school, parents and members of the public who are committed to serving the best interests of the school and contributing to the school's efforts in raising standards.

The three core strategic functions of governors are:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff.
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

The Governance Handbook provides information about the role and legal duties of governing boards in maintained schools and academies (including free schools). 

Governors have particular responsibilities with regard to safeguarding. See our Safeguarding Children Partnership page for further information.

Becoming a school governor

Governing boards need skilled, motivated people who are committed to making an improvement in our schools.

We encourage participation from ethnic minorities and all spheres of life to create diversity on the board which reflects the local community. Bring your difference to make a difference.

  • Do you have an interest in education?
  • Would you like to give active service to the community?
  • Do you want to help our schools provide the best education for each child?
  • Would you like to be part of a team dedicated to achieving this?
  • Do you have the time to make a commitment to learn about the role, attend induction training and undertake ongoing professional development?

Apply to be a school governor

How much time does it take to be a school governor?

It is difficult to say precisely as each governing board operates in its own way. However, the full governing board must meet once a term and these meetings are of about two hours duration. In addition governors will be expected to join a committee and the committee will meet each term. Governors will be expected to make a visit to the school at least once a year.

Who can become a school governor?

Nearly all people over the age of 18 can become a school governor, although safeguarding checks will be made. A willingness to learn and to attend training is also important.

Governors must adhere to the Seven Principles of public life and the Code of Conduct for their governing board. New governors are expected to attend Induction training for new governors.

Governing boards are made up of several categories of school governors who are elected or appointed in different ways. These include staff governors, parent governors, co-opted governors, local authority governors and those appointed by religious foundations.

Some governing boards also have associate members who are appointed in the same way as governors but may be appointed for a particular skill or with a view to being considered as a governor when a vacancy becomes available. This is to help the governing boards reflect the communities that they serve and to enable the governing board to appoint to the skills they need.

In maintained schools the composition is determined by the instrument of government which has been agreed by the governing board. For an Academy the composition is detailed in the Articles of Association. Every school has a governing board which varies in size usually between 9-15.

Please complete the application form if you would like to be introduced to a school with a suitable vacancy which will normally be the co-opted category. If you are interested in a particular school you can also contact the head teacher to ascertain whether there are any vacancies.

How long do governors serve?

The Head teacher is a governor by right of their office. All other governors’ term of office is four years, although occasionally this can be less.

Governors are elected or appointed and can serve further terms of office if they are reappointed or re-elected.

What help is there for governors?

Many governing boards provide help for new governors such as a mentor.

Bedford Borough Council provides support for all governors, including new governors:

  • New governors receive a Welcome booklet with helpful information about governance
  • New governors Induction training
  • School Governor Annual Training Programme – available to all governors from all schools, academies and free schools across Bedford Borough
  • Resources provided through access to
  • Telephone and email assistance

Types of governors

Categories of governors vary between types of school, but all schools and academies have parent governors and the head teacher or principal has the right to be a governor. Governing boards may include:

  • parent governors
  • staff governors
  • local authority governors
  • foundation governors
  • co-opted governors
  • partnership governors

Governing boards may also have:

  • Additional governors – appointed by the local authority to schools causing concern
  • Associate members – not governors but appointed to the governing board because they provide an area of expertise

Governing board meetings

The governing board must meet at least three times in a school year. These meetings are usually after school or in the evening and generally last around two hours. Meetings are also informed by the work of governing board committees, to which most governors belong.

The governing board usually elect a Chair and Vice Chair of Governors annually. The Chair is responsible for leading and facilitating governing board meetings.

The governing board appoint a Clerk to the governing board. The Clerk is responsible for organising the business, sending relevant documents and information to governors in advance of the meeting and then taking minutes of the meeting. Clerks also provide procedural advice to the governing board.