As a new governor or trustee, there would appear to be a lot to learn about governance and the education system. Governors and trustees take the strategic decisions about their schools and academies and ensure that the school is accountable to its community. Under the strategic leadership of the board the head teacher and senior leadership team are responsible for the operational aspects and the day to day management of the school.
Training for New Governors and Trustees
New governors are recommended to attend training on various aspects of governance and school management to assist them in their role. The Governance Services Team provides comprehensive training in these areas as part of their services to schools. The National Induction Programme for Governors is highly recommended for new governors to gain an understanding of their roles and responsibilities.
The Governance Services Team provides new governors with information, support, training and development to enable them to effectively carry out their role as a school governor. This, together with the Department for Education’s ‘Governance Handbook’, should help make governors feel well-prepared for the exciting and challenging role ahead. A copy of the handbook can be downloaded here.
It is essential that all new governors receive a comprehensive induction package covering a broad range of issues and topics. It is recommended that as a means of good practice, governing boards have an induction policy which details how individual governors are to be supported as part of their induction. The idea behind such a process is to lead to more effective governance and retention of governors. A model induction policy along with a suggested checklist for new governors may be downloaded below and adapted for your own governing board’s use.
Support from Governance Services
For those governing boards who have bought into the Governance Clerking and Support Service, the following documents will be forwarded to all new governors as part of the 'Welcome to Governance' pack:
- The school’s instrument of government which notes the composition of the governing board.
- Declaration of eligibility form (for completion and return).
- Register of business interest form (for completion and return).
- The governing board membership list.
- The governing board code of conduct and acceptance form (for completion and return).
- The governing board committee structure, terms of reference and membership.
- A copy of the most recent Governor Services Team newsletter.
- Minutes of the last full governing board meeting.
New governors should also expect to receive a number of documents from their school such as:
- The school prospectus (if applicable)
- Recent school newsletters.
- A calendar of school events.
- School improvement plan (SIP).
- The school’s latest Ofsted report.
- The school visits policy.
Top Tips for New Governors (to consider in the first year in office)
- Always consider the best interests of the school.
- Get to know your school, speak to the head teacher, the chair and the clerk.
- Remember you are equal to all governors.
- Remember decision-making is corporate, bring your view, but abide by the corporate decision .
- Ask for a mentor governor as a first point of contact.
- If you are a member of a committee be familiar with its terms of reference.
- Attend training where possible.
- Prepare well for all meetings.
- Find out about confidentiality.
- Remember you have no power, responsibility or liability as an individual.
- Your volunteer status means getting summaries - don’t allow governance to become a full-time job.
- Remember the governing board steers, the head teacher manages.
- Don’t be part of decision-making where a personal interest or occupation allows you to become biased - declare the interest and withdraw.
- If you don’t feel you have enough information to make a decision then say so - remember you can abstain.
- Don’t bring up issues about your own children at governing board level.
For further information about governor induction, please contact your clerk to governors or chair of governors.