Election of chair and vice-chair

The board must elect a chair and vice-chair from among their number. Generally the elections take place at the first meeting in the autumn term, but it does not have to be the first item on the agenda. The election could be the last item, so that the present chair can conduct the meeting for which s/he has prepared and then a new chair can be elected. An election may also be required if the chair (or vice-chair) resigns, is removed from office, or their term of office as a governor or trustee comes to an end before the end of their period as chair.

Academy Articles usually specify that the chair and vice-chair are elected annually, but each academy needs to check its own articles.

In maintained schools the board must decide on the chair and vice-chair’s term of office before the election. Every governor is eligible for election as chair or vice-chair with the exception of the Headteacher/Principal, any governor who is also employed at the school, and any registered pupil.

The following is a recommendation only. There are currently no regulations to govern the election of chair.

Nominations

It is good practice for the clerk to ask for nominations in advance of the meeting, thus ensuring that every member of the board is fully aware of the impending election and has an equal chance to consider standing. Are governors able to nominate themselves, or should they be nominated by another governor (with the knowledge and agreement of the person being nominated)? The board should also agree a timeframe, so that the candidates’ details can be included with the agenda for the meeting. Those standing should be given the opportunity to submit a statement in support of their candidacy, but may also be given the chance to speak at the meeting (with a time limit).

Term of Office

The board should also consider for how many consecutive terms of office an individual may be the chair; the National Governance Association (NGA) recommends that no-one should hold the position for longer than six years.

Co-chairs

Is the governing board happy to accept nominations for co-chairs? In a co-chair model two individuals put forward one nomination, so the governors would cast one vote to elect both individuals, rather than choosing between the two.

Suggested process:

  • The clerk (or another) takes the chair and ensures the meeting is quorate
  • Each nominated governor or trustee could be invited to speak to the board (with a specified time limit) setting out their reasons for standing.  Alternatively candidates could be asked to submit a short written statement in support of their candidancy.  All candidates must leave the room while a discussion and vote takes place. This should be the case even if there is a single nomination
  • A vote by secret ballot takes place
  • The clerk will count the votes and announce who has been elected as chair. The successful candidate will be invited to take the chair and will oversee the election of the vice-chair
  • If there is a tie, the clerk does not have a casting vote. A second ballot could be held between any tied candidates.  If their original statement was supplied as a written submission the tied candidates could be given an opportunity to speak to the board at this point. If a second ballot fails to resolve the issue, the tied candidates would have to draw lots
  • If a candidate is not elected (or there are no nominations) then a governor elected for the purpose of the one meeting will chair the rest of the meeting and the election will appear again on the next FGB agenda
  • The newly elected chair would conduct the election for the vice-chair, which could also be carried out by secret ballot, but in the event of a tie the chair would have a casting vote.
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