Types of governor

Co-opted governors

Co-opted governors are appointed by the governing body. They are people who in the opinion of the governing body have the skills required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.

The number of co-opted governors who are eligible to be elected or appointed as staff governors must not, when counted with the one staff governor and the headteacher, exceed one-third of the total membership of the governing body.

Parent governors

Parent governors are elected by other parents at the school. Any parent, or carer, of a registered pupil at the school at the time of election is eligible to stand for election as a parent governor. Parent governors may continue to hold office until the end of their term of office even if their child leaves the school.

Schools must make every reasonable effort to fill parent governor vacancies through elections. However, the Regulations make provision for the governing body to appoint parent governors where not enough parents stand for election. Governing bodies may only appoint as a parent governor a parent who has, in their opinion, the skills to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school.

A person is disqualified from being a parent governor if they are an elected member of the Local Authority or paid to work at the school for more than 500 hours.

Local authority governors

Local authority governors are nominated by the local authority but appointed by the governing body. The local authority can nominate any eligible person as a local authority governor, but it is for the governing body to decide whether their nominee has the skills to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school and meets any other eligibility criteria they have set.

Local authorities should therefore make every effort to understand the governing body’s requirements and identify and nominate suitable candidates.

An individual eligible to be a staff governor at the school may not be appointed as a local authority governor.

Foundation governors

Foundation governors (at voluntary aided, voluntary controlled and some foundation and foundation special schools only) are usually appointed by the school's founding body, church or other organisation named in the school's instrument of government. Some are governors as a result of being the local priest. These are ex-officio governorships which must be specified on the instrument of government.

All foundation governors are appointed to secure compliance with the trust deed and preserve and develop the religious character of the school, if it has a religious character.

Headteacher

The headteacher is a member of the governing body by virtue of their office.

The headteacher may at any time resign as a governor, and withdraw their resignation, in both cases by notifying the clerk in writing.

Staff governors

Teaching and support staff who, at the time of election, are employed by either the governing body or the local authority to work at the school under a contract of employment, are eligible to be staff governors.

Staff governors are elected by the school staff. They cease to hold office when their employment at the school ends.

It is important that prospective staff governors understand the nature of the role of a governor, and specifically that their role is not to represent staff, nor to stand alongside the headteacher in being held to account by the governing body, but to operate as part of the governing body to provide strategic leadership and to hold the headteacher to account.

As with elected parent governors, staff governors cannot be removed from office. Clear expectations of role and conduct should therefore be communicated and agreed upfront.

If no candidates are forthcoming, the position on the governing body remains vacant and an election should be held as soon as an eligible candidate is identified.

Partnership governors

Partnership governors are found only at foundation and foundation special schools which do not have a foundation of trustees.

These are former county grant-maintained and grant-maintained special schools. Partnership governors must be members of the community served by the school who are committed to the good government and success of the school.

The governing body is responsible for seeking nominations for partnership governors, and for appointing them. Parents of pupils currently at the school, people employed to work at the school, or elected members or local authority employees connected with education cannot be appointed as partnership governors.

Associate members

Associate members are appointed by the governing body to serve on one or more governing body committee. They may also attend full governing body meetings. They are not governors and therefore do not have a vote in governing body decisions, but may be given a vote on decision made by committees to which they are appointed.

Associated members should be appointed because of the specific expertise and experience they can contribute to the effective governance and success of the school. The definition of associate member is wide. Subject to the disqualifications set out in the regulations, the governing body may appoint a pupil, school staff member, or any other person as an associate member so that they can contribute their specific expertise.

This can help to address specific gaps identified in the skills of governing body members, and/or help the governing body respond to particular challenges that they may be facing.