Roles and Responsibilities of School Governors

The three core functions of a governing body, as reflected in Ofsted’s inspection criteria are:

  • Setting vision, ethos and strategic direction, engaging stakeholders, and ensuring statutory duties are met:
  • Holding heads to account for teaching, achievement, behaviour and safety: challenging and strengthening leadership: contributing to school self-evaluation
  • Ensuring financial solvency and probity with effective management of financial resources, including the Pupil Premium, to raise standards

They are also responsible for specific actions such as approving the school budget and appointing the headteacher.

School governors are drawn from different parts of the community and can be parents or staff from the LA, the community and other groups. This helps ensure the governing body has sufficient diversity of views and experience but does not mean governors of a particular category represent that group on the governing body:-  i.e. parent governors do not represent the parents at the school and do not report back to them.  Individual governors have no power or right to act on behalf of the governing body except where the whole governing body has delegated a specific function to that individual or where regulations specify a function is to be exercised in a particular way.

Instrument of Government

The Instrument of Government is the document that records the name of the school and the constitution of its governing body. It must be approved by the LA and comply with statutory requirements and principles.

The Instrument of Government at Burbage Primary School consists of:-

  • 1 Local Authority governors
  • 9 Co-opted governors
  • Headteacher
  • 1 staff governor
  • 3 parent governors

Types of governors at Burbage Primary School

  • Parent governors: selected by election (or appointment if insufficient people stand for election) and drawn from parents and carers of children at the school
  • Staff governors: selected by election from teaching and support staff paid to work at the school
  • Authority governors: appointed by the Local authority
  • Co-opted governors: appointed by the governing body to represent community interests
  • (Other categories of governors include foundation governors, partnership governors, sponsor governors and associated members)

The governing body must appoint a chair and vice-chair. Committees must appoint their own chair. Other specific appointments can be made for individual governors to lead on in certain aspects of the school (eg Health & Safety, Safeguarding, Inclusion). Sub-committees at Burbage Primary school are; Pay and Performance Committee (P&P)

Role of the chair and vice-chair           

The role of the chair (and vice chair in the chair’s absence) is extremely varied and can include:-

  • To make sure the governing body’s affairs are conducted in accordance with the law
  • To report any urgent action taken on behalf of the governing body, ensuring it is fully explained and supported. Chairs have no special power to take decisions on behalf of governors unless there has been a resolution of the whole governing body to delegate a specific authority. However, they do have the power to take action if the matter is urgent and if it concerns one of the functions that can be delegated. The Education (School Government)(England) Regulation 1999 Regulation 43 defines ‘urgent’ as a case where delay would be seriously harmful to the school or to any pupil or member of staff, and where it would not be reasonably practicable to hold a governors’ meeting to resolve the issue. Any urgent action the chair or vice-chair takes on behalf of the governing body should be reported at the next meeting
  • To ensure meetings are run effectively – that they start and finish on time, that agenda items are properly introduced, that people are encouraged to contribute and that decisions are taken where necessary and minuted
  • To help the governing body work as a team – by recognising and using people’s strengths, delegating effectively, clarifying objectives and using the whole governing body by creating committees and small groups to develop new ideas, work out plans of action and to cover contentious or difficult areas of planning. Define, with the governing body, a clear understanding of the roles of the chair, vice chair, the other governors and professionals within the school
  • To work with the headteacher- be available to the headteacher, make time to listen to concerns and give constructive advice, talk through disagreements before the governing body meetings, work together on effective school policies
  • To carry out any duties delegated by the governing body, be seen in school regularly, attend school functions or make sure another governor represents them, work with the local authority, be accessible to other governors, staff and parents, meet governors from other schools
  • To use time effectively, their own and other people’s- plan the year’s cycle of meetings and a timetable for action and reports, plan for effective meetings
  • To make it clear that all governors must accept collective responsibility for decisions taken at governors’ meetings

Specific roles within the governing body

Link Governor

The term ‘link governor’ best describes the relationship that a governor has to act as a link between the FGB and a specific subject, e.g. Safeguarding, sports provision, curriculum etc. It is not a statutory requirement, but is good practice. A good working relationship between the subject specialist within the school and the subject link governor will enhance the success of this initiative.

The subject link governor, in support of the subject co-ordinator or head of subject, should:-

  • Be informed about relevant documents and legislation; Ofsted criteria for evaluating the subject provision; local and national issues impacting upon the subject
  • Liaise with the subject co-ordinator or head of subject to become informed about staffing arrangements and training; the condition and availability of resources; curriculum and timetable arrangement; Inclusion provision; reference to the school development plan; assessment and recording procedures for the subject; which visits and visitors are planned
  • Establish and maintain effective lines of communication between the subject co-ordinator and the governing body; report back to FGB meetings
  • Help to keep parents informed via the school prospectus, newsletter and meetings
Inclusion governor

Inclusion is now the term given when referring to children with a Special Educational Need, disability or who are Gifted & Talented. A primary role for the inclusion governor is to ensure that children in this category have the help they need to access the curriculum and to participate fully in the life of the school. The inclusion governor is required to report back to the FGB on up-to-date matters within the school and information on provision for pupils. The inclusion governor should also know:-

  • How the school identifies children with a SEN, disability or who are G&T, and what happens once a child has been identified
  • Understanding of IEP’s, assessments and monitoring
  • How funding from the LA is allocated and spent
  • The school’s Inclusion policy
  • Meet regularly with the member of staff responsible for inclusion (previously known as the SENCo)
  • Have knowledge of support services used within the school


  • Attend training courses and in service training on Inclusion
  • Where possible attend Annual reviews
Safeguarding governor

Safeguarding is about protecting children. The governing body has a legal obligation to ensure that the school is run so that the welfare of the children is safeguarded and promoted. The safeguarding governor should:-

  • Be familiar with LA guidance and policy relating to Safeguarding and Child Protection and associated issues
  • To ensure that Governing Body puts in place a suitable Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and associated procedures.
  • To champion safeguarding and child protection issues within the school.
  • To remedy any deficiencies in the school’s safeguarding practices which may be brought to Governors’ attention by a member of school staff, a parent, an officer of the Authority or from any other source.
  • To meet regularly with the senior member of the school’s leadership team who has lead responsibility for Child Protection issues (CPLT), in order to monitor the effectiveness of the governing body’s Safeguarding and Child Protection policy.
  • To ensure that the governing body receives an annual report on the implementation of the school’s safeguarding and child protection policy
Health & Safety governor

The head teacher is responsible for the day to day management of the school’s Health and Safety policy and the communication of its requirements. The governing body has the responsibility to monitor the policy and, if necessary, to require additional actions.  The H&S governor should:-

  • Work with the school health and safety representative to ensure that the school has a health and safety policy and make regular health and safety inspections of the school premises
  • Decide appropriate health and safety procedures and practices to be undertaken by the school and ensure that the school complies with legislation and follows best practice in the management of health and safety
  • Keep the governing body informed of health and safety issues
  • Make sure that adequate health and safety resources are available to meet health and safety requirements
  • Ensure that staff and students are not exposed to unacceptable risks, and that significant risks are adequately controlled