Appoint a parent governor

Community, community special and voluntary controlled schools

Hampshire County Council is the appropriate authority for arranging and appointing parent governors. The County Council has delegated the responsibility of ensuring an election takes place to fill a parent governor vacancy to the headteacher.

When electing parent governors, headteachers must follow:

Voluntary aided, foundation and foundation special schools

The appropriate authority for arranging and appointing parent governors is the governance board. The governance board must follow the regulations. They may also wish to take these guidelines into account.

Who can stand and vote for parent governor

The definition of parent under education law covers:

  • all natural parents whether they are married or not
  • any person who has parental responsibility for a child or young person
  • any person who has care of a child or young person, such as lives with and looks after the child

The school will need to decide who comes within the definition of parent in respect of a particular pupil. Generally parents include all those with day to day responsibility for a child.

Disqualification criteria

A summary of the disqualification criteria that apply to school governors are listed in Annex A, section C of The constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools statutory guidance.

Seeking nominations

The headteacher should send a letter to parents inviting applications for the role of parent governor:

  • as soon as a parent governor resigns, or
  • at the beginning of the term in which a parent governor's term of office expires

See Appendix A for an example letter which includes the standard information you should send to all those eligible to be a parent governor. You should personalise it as you see fit to attract the right candidates for your school. For example list any skills, experience or attributes the governance board identified would help to strengthen governance within the school.

Send a letter to each address where a pupil has have more than one person with parental responsibility living at different addresses.

Where a vacancy arises at short notice, send out the letter as soon as possible. You can delay this process until the beginning of the next term if this situation arises near the end of summer.

Parents interested in standing as a governor must complete a school governor application form.

This will ensure that all potential candidates are aware of the current disqualification criteria and it gives them the opportunity to state:

  • their reasons for applying, and
  • the experience and personal skills they can bring to the role.

Use this information to form their election statement to go out with the ballot paper, if this part of the process is required.

The closing date for applications should be ten school working days from the date letters are distributed. The actual closing date and time should be clearly stated in the letter so that parents are aware of the timescale to submit their application form.

Processing applications

If the number of applications is equal to, or less than the number of vacancies to be filled, a ballot doesn't need to be held. The applicant(s) is automatically elected. The headteacher should notify the successful candidate(s), as soon as possible after the closing date. They should then complete the relevant section on the School Governor application form(s) to confirm they have elected the candidate(s) and checked their identity. The headteacher should then pass it to the clerk to update their records and the Governor Services’ membership database.

If there are more applications than there are vacancies, the headteacher will have to hold a secret ballot.

The ballot

Voting can be carried out by paper or electronically.

Using paper

The ‘Reasons for applying’ and ‘Experience and personal skills’ sections of the application form should be used as the election statement.

Allow ten school working days between the ballot papers being sent out and the last date for their return. The return date and time should be clearly stated on the ballot papers.

The election should be held by secret ballot. Ballot papers themselves should not be signed or the voter identified in any way.

We would suggest that they are printed on paper of a distinctive colour.

We recommend the use of the following election procedure.

Double envelope system

  1. send two envelopes with each ballot paper
  2. the voter seals their completed ballot paper in an unmarked envelope
  3. the voter should seal the unmarked envelope inside the outer envelope. They should write their name clearly on the outer envelope
  4. the voter should return the double envelope to the school
  5. on receipt of the ballot papers the headteacher, or their nominee, should check the name on the outer envelope against the list of those entitled to vote and tick off the relevant name
  6. the outer envelope is then removed and the inner envelope placed in the ballot box for counting at the appointed time

Electronic election guidance

Governor Services has produced guidance covering the key considerations for boards to consider and practical guidance for conducting parental elections electronically.


Each parent can vote once per vacancy. Some parents may have more than one child in a school. Therefore, the school will need to create a system to make sure no parent receives more than one ballot paper.

The headteacher should arrange to get ballot papers to and from parents by pupil post where possible. Post or deliver the ballot paper to the parent if:

  • a pupil does not live with a person who has parental responsibility
  • the pupil is absent from school when the ballot papers are issued

Treat a ballot paper as void if it is returned and it is not possible to confirm it is from a person entitled to vote. Ballot papers must be kept unopened and secure until the count.

Candidates have the right to attend the count. They must be advised of the venue, date and time of the count at the same time as the ballot papers are sent out. See example letter to send to candidates in Appendix C.

Counting the ballot papers

You should open the ballot box on the next school working day after the closing date of the ballot papers being returned.

The headteacher, or their nominee, will conduct the count. If there is a tie in the numbers of votes cast, the first step should be to recount the votes. If the votes are still equal for two or more candidates then the headteacher, or their nominee, should arrange for them to draw lots.

After the election

The headteacher should inform any candidates who were not at the count as soon as possible. Thank unsuccessful candidates for their interest, and encourage them to become a governor at another school. See example letter informing the candidate of the result in Appendix D.

The headteacher should complete the relevant section on the School Governor application form to confirm they have elected the candidate and checked their identity. They should then pass it to the clerk to update their records and the Governor Services’ membership database.

Inform parents and governors of the result within ten school working days.

'Ballot papers should be kept securely by the headteacher for six months in case the result of the election is challenged.

Candidate's start date

The successful candidate will start the day* after the present parent governor finishes.

* this refers to the next calendar day irrespective of whether it is a weekend or school holiday.

Where the post is already vacant the start date is the date of the count. If an election did not take place the start date is the day after the closing date for applications.

Remaining parent governor vacancies

There may still be vacancies after receiving applications from parents of current pupils at the school. The governance board can appoint people to the posts in line with paragraphs 10 and 11 of Schedule 1 of The School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012/1034. Governance board should only appoint parent governors who have the skills to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school.

All candidates must complete an application form, so they are aware of the current disqualification criteria.

At a full governance board meeting consider applications as a separate agenda item. The clerk should then complete the relevant section on the School Governor application form to confirm they have:

  • appointed the candidate
  • checked the candidate's identity

The clerk should then update their records and the Governor Services’ membership database. The candidate's start date will be the date of the meeting at which the appointment was made.

There may still be vacancies after the governance board has considered all candidates. In this case the governance board will need to make another approach to parents. For example a personal letter from the chair with positive comments from current parent governors can be successful. Governors should also use opportunities where parents will be in the school to encourage them to join the governance board. For example at parents’ evenings or new intake events.