Types of school governors

Local Authority (LA) governors are nominated to stand for a vacancy on a Governing Body by an Elected Member of the Council and appointed by the Governing Board. Along with other disqualification criteria shown in the Constitution Regulations, a person is disqualified from appointment as an LA Governor if they are eligible to be a staff governor of the school (for example, paid to work at the school).

Co-opted governors are appointed by the governing body to represent community interests. These governors can be people who live or work in the community served by the school, or people who do not work or live close to the school but are committed to the good governance and success of the school.

Members of the school (or federation) staff may be appointed as co-opted governors, as long as all staff (when counted with the Headteacher) who sit on the board, make up no more than 1/3 of the total membership.

Parent governors are parents (including carers) of registered pupils at the school and are elected by other parents at the school (or federation). If insufficient parents stand for election, the governing body can appoint parent governors. 

“Parent” is defined for the purposes of the Constitution Regulations as including “any individual who has or has had parental responsibility for, or cares or has cared for, a child or young person under the age of 19”.

Schools must make every reasonable effort to fill parent governor vacancies through elections. If insufficient parents stand for election the governing body can appoint:

  • A parent of a registered pupil at the school, or if that is not possible
  • A parent of a former pupil at the school, or if that is not possible
  • A parent of a child of, or under, compulsory school age.

This also applies to community special schools and foundation special schools, but for these schools the appointment criteria are:

  • A parent of a registered pupil at the school, or if that is not possible
  • A parent of a former pupil at the school, or if that is not possible
  • A parent of a child of or under compulsory school age with special educational needs for which the school is approved, or if that is not possible
  • A parent with experience of educating a child with special educational needs.

A person is disqualified from election or appointment as a parent governor of a school if they are an elected member of the council, or if they work at the school for more than 500 hours in any consecutive 12-month period (at the time of election or appointment).

Staff governors are elected by the school staff and must be paid to work at the school –  both teaching and non-teaching staff are eligible, volunteers are ineligible. Any election that is contested must be held by ballot.

The Headteacher is a separate category of governor. If the headteacher decides not to be a governor, he or she must inform the clerk of that decision in writing. The headteacher’s place remains reserved for him or her and cannot be taken by anyone else.

Foundation governors are appointed by the school’s founding body, church or other organisation named in the school’s instrument of government. They may hold their governorship in an ex officio capacity if they are the holder of an office specified in the instrument of government, for example a parish priest. If the school has a religious character the foundation governors must preserve and develop this. They must also ensure compliance with the trust deed, if there is one. If there is more than one body that has the right to appoint foundation governors, the instrument of government specifies the bodies concerned and the basis on which appointments are made.

If the school has no foundation or equivalent body, the foundation governors are replaced by partnership governors appointed by the governing body after a nomination process. The governing body must ask parents of registered pupils at the school, and others in the community it considers appropriate (for example community organisations and other local bodies), to provide nominations for partnership governors.

Parents of registered pupils at the school, staff eligible to be staff governors, elected members of the LA and those employed by the LA in connection with education functions are not eligible to be partnership governors. 

Associate members can be appointed by the governing body to serve on one or more committees and attend full governing body meetings. The definition of associate member is wide and  pupils, school staff and people who want to contribute specifically on issues related to their area of expertise (for instance, finance) can be appointed as associate members.

Associate members are appointed as members of any committees established by the governing body. They are appointed for a period of between one and four years and can be reappointed at the end of their term of office. Associate members are not governors and they are not recorded in the instrument of government.