Some of your questions answered

What is a governing body?
Every school has a governing body made up of various members of the community. The governing body works closely with the Headteacher, who is responsible for the day to day management of the school. The governing body is part of the school leadership team, responsible for strategic planning and policy development. They work as a team to make sure the school provides a good quality education for all its pupils.

Are governors paid?
No, all governors are volunteers and there is no payment for carrying out the role. Some governing bodies operate schemes to reimburse governors for necessary expenses.

I don’t know anything about education so what could I offer?
It is important that governors come from a wide range of backgrounds. The school staff and many of the parents will have a knowledge of education. Governors from other areas of work or experience bring a vital outside view and can make suggestions and ask questions which might not be thought of by people closely involved with the school. Although schools may occasionally be looking for a governor with specific outside experience, finance or personnel for example, personal qualities, such as enthusiasm, tact and the willingness to listen and to ask questions are far more important than specific knowledge or experience. Individual governors will have different beliefs, values, views and experience to contribute to the work of the whole governing body.

What do governors need to do to carry out their role?
Governors attend meetings of the full governing body 6 times a year (once each half term). Most governing bodies have a number of committees or working groups and all governors are expected to join one or more of these. These usually meet once or twice a term.

Governors need to be able to read the reports and papers circulated for meetings and be prepared to ask questions about them. All new governors are strongly encouraged to attend new Governor induction training.

What is a quorum?
A meeting cannot start or make decisions until there is a minimum number of voting members, a quorum. Without a quorum the meeting is not properly constituted. The quorum for a Governing body meeting is 50% (rounded up) of the complete membership excluding vacancies. The quorum for any committee meeting is 3 Governors who are members of the committee.

Are school governors entitled to time off work to serve as a school governor?
Governors frequently ask about their entitlement to time off work to carry out their functions. Under employment law, employers are required to give ‘reasonable time off’ to allow employees who are school governors to discharge their duties. It should be noted, however, that this leave of absence can be with or without pay. This is at the employer’s own discretion and needs to be agreed between the employer and employee. What constitutes ‘reasonable time off’ is not defined in law and is an area for negotiation between the employer and employee.