The ‘whys’ and the ‘whats’ of the School Governor Role

School Governors

Why be a school governor? Because the more our children succeed the better we’ll all be.

What’s needed? Time, enthusiasm, and the willingness to learn and work with others.

What else?

If you are a UK resident you will need to:

  • be over the age of 18;
  • be prepared to go through a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check;
  • value and be interested in education;
  • have time to invest in a school;
  • have common sense – a business or educational background would be a bonus, but is not essential (ideally governing bodies would like to have on board a mix of legal, financial, buildings and human resources expertise but in most cases this is just not possible);
  • have the ability to observe and learn, and the confidence to challenge where needed – the role of a governor is to become a ‘critical friend’ to the headteacher;
  • be willing to undertake the training recommended to build up the relevant knowledge to help the school plot a clear strategic direction – however grand your day job do not assume that you will add value just by being there;
  • enjoy working with a wide range of people;
  • have a home life flexible enough to support the odd hours and sudden demands;
  • have a laptop – not essential but it will protect you from a forest of paperwork.

For the first decade of the millennium I was clerk to over thirty different school governing bodies in the UK. I worked with governors from infant schools, secondary schools, interim executive boards, pupil referral units and special schools. Together we handled complaints, admission appeals, redundancy procedures, exclusions and thousands of committee meetings. It was busy.

Then I became a governor, and a chair of governors…and it got even busier.

We were trained and inspected, and then buried in papers, policies, curriculum reviews and data. We fretted about the law and considered all manner of confederations and academies, often on tiny chairs in cold classrooms late into the night. That was the hard work. The privilege was to work alongside staff, governors and parents, and to see pupils enjoying the best we could provide for them.

Was it worth it? I learned a great deal, I made new friends, and I felt I had been part of something important…part of helping a school to develop.

PS I haven’t been asked to write this…it’s just my own thoughts that I hope might be helpful for anyone wondering about the role. I wrote this first in 2012 and have updated it slightly.


Here are two links for further information:

2018 document on governance by the Institute of Directors

  • Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2019

One thought on “The ‘whys’ and the ‘whats’ of the School Governor Role

  1. Reblogged this on The Phraser and commented:

    Here’s an updated version of a piece I wrote when I first started to blog. At the time I still worked in the hectic world of schools, and saw at first hand the difference governors could make.


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