Recruitment - Governors, Trustees and Clerks
Additional resources for subscribing schools
We have additional resources available for schools which subscribe to the Governance Consultancy Team including:
- Clerks' Appraisal Toolkit
- Privacy Notice for governors or trustees
- New governor or trustee - information required checklist and consent form for use of information given voluntarily
- Recruitment and induction toolkit.
These resources are available to download from the governance microsite. Please contact your clerk, or the Governance Consultancy Team, for the link to the microsite.
There are several national organisations available to assist with your search for a new individual to join the board. All appointments must be made on the basis of the skills that individual will contribute.
Governors for Schools (formerly SGOSS)
An independent charity dedicated to recruiting volunteers to serve on school governing boards across England.
A free service that enables you to find appropriately skilled volunteers interested in becoming a school governors or trustees in your area, backed by the National Governance Association (NGA).
www.academyambassadors.org A not-for-profit organisation set up to support academies across England in the recruitment of skilled trustees.
Code of Conduct
The Governance Handbook explains that effective boards set out clearly what they expect of individuals, particularly when they first join. They suggest that a code of conduct should be put in place, setting out the purpose of the board and describing the appropriate relationship between individuals, the whole board and the leadership team of the school; making all members of the board aware of the expectations and their obligations.
The Governance Handbook states that explicit agreement to the code of conduct will mean there is a common reference point should any difficulties arise in the future.
The National Governance Association (NGA) provides a model Code of Conduct which can be adapted for use within your setting.
Governor and trustee recruitment
Seeking your new governor/trustee
We have a recruitment and induction toolkit available to download on the subscriber content area of this website. Many schools have asked us what methods they can use to help find appropriate individuals to join their governing board, without incurring large advertising costs, so here we share some ideas.
- Register your vacancy, free of charge, on the Inspiring Governors website: www.inspiringgovernors.org/ which is operated by the National Governors Association working in partnership with the charity Education and Employers on the Inspiring Governance programme to support the delivery of targeted governor and academy trustee recruitment across England
- Academy schools may also like to use the Academy Ambassadors website: www.academyambassadors.org who offer a free service and use a network of business leaders, major employers and partners as well as social media and executive search agencies to attract senior level professionals to academy trust boards
- Governors for Schools is an independent charity who also offer a service to match volunteers with identified skills and schools seeking those skills: www.governorsforschools.org.uk/
- Have a clear idea of the types of skills you need to add to your governing board, this will help you to target your search
- Raise the profile of your school governors/trustees, make sure that all members of the school and wider community know what the governing board do and how they can get involved. Consider a governor presence at open days and parent evenings. Publish your governing board minutes on the school website when they are fresh and valid, rather than months after the meeting
- Publicise the vacancy through not only your own school newsletter, and school website but also the local pre-school and the nearest secondary / primary school(s) as appropriate. Aim to reach both parents and staff
- Don’t forget the school social media accounts too. Existing governors and trustees may have social networks they could use, such as Twitter and LinkedIn to spread the message
- Utilise Parish newsletters for your own and the neighbouring Parishes; this is useful not only for foundation governors, but also to reach members of the local community
- Try to get a specific mention of your search in the local press or radio station, or add a mention of governance to an article about your school fete or visiting artist
- Get pupils involved in an activity about school governors, which could also involve parents and the local community. Activities such as a recruitment poster or an invitation to join the governing board could be designed and drawn by pupils. These can then be copied and displayed in school and in the local community
- Display a card (or your pupil designed poster) in local shop or post office windows. The library or nearest supermarket may also have a board for volunteer posts. Perhaps you could display some publicity in the local dentist / doctor / veterinary surgery waiting rooms?
- Existing governors and trustees may be able to use noticeboards or newsletters at their place of work to widen the net
- Email local small businesses, there is a wealth of evidence of the benefits to the employer that promoting the role of governor/trustee to their staff can have. You will find e-leaflets specifically to encourage businesses to participate available on the webpages of the governor and trustee recruitment organisations above
- Contact larger businesses in your locality, many will have a Corporate Social Responsibility policy, meaning that they encourage their staff to support local community work and volunteering. Governors and trustees are entitled to reasonable time off for their governance responsibilities, many of the big employers allocate paid hours for the role
- Be professional. Have a clearly written, friendly and informative pack available to give any prospective volunteers which includes information about your school and what the role entails. Be upfront and honest about the commitment you will expect; if governors/trustees need to serve on two committees, or meetings are held monthly then say so. Include the declaration of eligibility in the pack, along with your code of conduct, so people can be alerted at an early stage if it is not appropriate for them to apply
- Be very clear about practical details – where and when will meetings be held, what is the time commitment individuals are expected to give beyond attending board meetings, will they be excepted to undertake visits during the school day?
- Provide contact details for an existing member of the board (with their permission) if the prospective volunteer would like to learn more. Make sure the school office team are aware of your search and have details to give out.
Skills audit and matrix
The National Governance Association (NGA) has produced a useful skills audit and matrix. An individual governor/trustee is not expected to have all the skills listed in the audit, but the skills should be represented across the governing board as a whole. The matrix can be used to collate responses from the skills audit and is colour coded so it is easy to identify areas of particular strength (green) or weakness (red). Areas which are highlighted through this process can help boards identify the skills they are seeking as new individuals join the board, or to identify taining needs for existing governors and trustees.
Recruiting a clerk
Recruiting a clerk
When recruiting a clerk to governors, the process should follow that used for any other member of school staff. The post should be advertised to ensure equal opportunities and in maintained schools the agreed Local Authority Job Description should be used. The governing board needs to determine accurately what duties it requires the clerk to carry out and how long these are likely to take before advertising the post. The post holder should be expected to carry out the full range of duties within the Job Description, but the board will also need to bear in mind its own context and setting when deciding on the specific tasks that it requires the clerk to undertake; for example maintaining and uploading governor information on the school website and Get Information About Schools (GIAS).
'The Department for Education recognises the value of professional quality clerking to governing boards in maintained schools, academies and multi-academy trusts. As anyone who has experienced professional clerking will testify, it provides an invaluable contribution to the efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and compliance of the governing board. A professional clerk works in partnership with the chair to keep the board focused on its core strategic priorities, provides independent and expert advice and guidance to the board on its duties and functions, and delivers administrative support that makes everything work smoothly.' Sir David Carter, foreword to the Clerking Competency Framework.
|Task or responsibility||Hours||Total|
|Full governing board meeting (How many?)|
|Committee 1 (How many?)|
|Committee 2 (How many?)|
|Committee 3 (How many?)|
|Additional committees (How many?)|
|Allowance for additional meetings (e.g. HT recruitment, formal proceedings, Ofsted, action plan monitoring etc)|
|Statutory duties / other tasks|
|Training, development and research|
|Annual total of hours|
|Task or responsibility||Hours||Total|
|Full governing board meeting 1 each half term||8 - 10hrs per meeting x 6||48 - 60|
|Resources committee 1 each half term||8 - 10hrs per meeting x 6||48 - 60|
|Teaching & learning committee 1 each half term||8 - 10hrs per meeting x 6||48 - 60|
|Performance and pay committee 2 meetings a year||8 - 10hrs per meeting x 2||16 - 20|
|Ethos committee||8 - 10hrs per meeting x 6||48 - 60|
|Allowance for 3 additional meetings per year based on historical need||8 - 10hrs per meeting x 3||24 - 30|
|Statutory duties / other tasks (e.g. governor/trustee queries & emails, distributing information, parent & staff elections, skills audit, governor recruitment)||20hrs per term||60|
|Additional duties (e.g. school website information; GIAS; governor induction; policies; annual cycle)||15hrs per term||45|
|Training, development and research||15hrs per term||45|
|Example annual total of hours||382 - 440|
Clerks who work in school in another capacity
- For clerks who also work in the school in another capacity there are some areas which it is useful to consider and discuss during the appraisal process. An open and honest conversation can help to address any potential issues.
- If a conflict of interests arises between the two roles how would this be recognised, managed and addressed?
- If there are conflicting demands on the clerks’ time how are these managed? The clerk will have two line managers - the headteacher for their school role, and the chair of governors as the clerk. Are separate contracts in place for each role?
- Are the hours allocated to the clerking role sufficient, or are some tasks ‘slipping’ into the time allocated to the school role? If someone who did not work in the school took on the role would the hours still be appropriate?
- Is there a clear and agreed understanding of the clerks’ responsibilities if a confidential matter is discussed at a governing board meeting which may have an impact on school staff? How is the dual role communicated to others working in the school? Do people understand that the clerk may need to behave differently or respond differently according to which role they are fulfilling?
- Is the clerk able to compartmentalise the two areas of their work to keep them separate? Are they able to demonstrate objectivity, and clearly differentiate between their role and responsibilities as a clerk and their role as a member of the school staff?
- Do the chair, headteacher and clerk liaise to agree priorities and release the clerk from their school role in order to attend training as the clerk or to meet with the chair during school hours?
- Is there an agreed understanding of when the clerk will be available between meetings? Can governors contact the clerk at any time, or is clerking work carried out on specific days & times?
Clerks who work from home
For clerks who work from home there are some areas which it is useful to consider and discuss during the appraisal process. An open and honest conversation can help to address any potential issues.
- Is the clerk recognised as a member of staff and welcomed in school with an area in which to work if needed? Is the clerk expected to work entirely from home, only coming into school for meetings? Is the system working well?
- How is the working relationship between the clerk and the administration team in the school? Does each have a mutual respect for the pressures that the other may be facing? Examples could include the clerk experiencing difficulties accessing policies on The Source from home necessitating the administrator downloading them to a school computer, or a need to photocopy several hundred ballot papers for a parent election.
- Does the clerk have a school laptop, school email address and access to paper, printer cartridges etc? If a clerk is using their own IT equipment what measures are in place to protect the information?
- Is there an agreed understanding of when the clerk will be available between meetings? Can governors contact the clerk at any time, including evenings and weekends, or does the clerk work on specific days of the week / hours of the day? How quickly is the clerk expected to respond to queries from individual governors, the chair, or the headteacher?
- How will you know if the hours allocated for the role are appropriate?
- Is there any potential for a conflict of interests for the clerk if they are also a parent at the school, or involved in the local community in another capacity? How would any conflict be recognised, managed and addressed?
- How does the school and the governing board keep the clerk ‘in the loop’ if they are not regularly in school? How is correspondence dealt with which comes into school addressed to the governors?
Co-opted governors and trustees
Co-opted governors and trustees are co-opted by agreement of the board, based on the skills the individual will bring to the board. The term of office for a co-opted governor or trustee starts from the date of the meeting at which they are co-opted. The number of co-opted positions on the board will be defined in the Instrument of Government or Articles of Association. Not all boards have co-opted places within their constitution.
In a maintained school the total number of co-opted governors who are also eligible to be elected or appointed as staff governors (when counted with the staff governor and the headteacher/s) must not exceed one third of the total membership of the board. Model articles also stipulate that in academy schools no more than a third of trustees may also work at the school, but please check your own articles.
In an academy school co-opted trustees must be appointed by agreement of appointed and elected trustees. Model articles state that existing co-opted trustees do not vote on the co-option of additional trustees; please check your own articles.
The term of office for a co-opted governor or trustee commences on the date of the full board meeting at which they are co-opted.
Diocese Foundation governors and trustees
In the Diocese of Exeter Foundation governors/trustees are either:
- Appointed by the Diocesan Board of Education with a nomination from the school incumbent
- Appointed by the PCC
- Appointed by trustees (academy schools)
- The ex-officio governor/trustee, normally the incumbent, unless a substitute has been nominated and agreed by the Archdeacon.
Foundation governors are appointed on the basis of the skills they will bring to the board, but also have a particular purpose to safeguard the character of the school and ensure it is conducted in accordance with the founding documents. The governing board must however operate collectively, in the best interest of pupils, not as a collection of individuals lobbying for the interests of the constituency from which they were elected or appointed.
The board may consider approaching other ecumenical churches in the area; a Foundation governor/trustee can come from another christian denomination. The individual does not have to be member of the congregation (church), but they must be prepared to make a commitment to uphold the Christian ethos of the school and have an understanding of what is expected of a Foundation governor/trustee.
Within the resources at the top right of this page you will find the nomination forms for the appointment and reappointment of Foundation governors/trustees. If you have any questions or queries about completing these forms please contact Sarah Owen, Diocesan Education Adviser (Governance Support), on 01392 294938 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information is available on the Diocese of Exeter website: http://exeter.anglican.org/schools/governors/
The term of office for a foundation governor starts on the date the Diocese approve the nomination. They will inform the clerk (and the Governance Team) of the successful appointment.
Local Authority governors and trustees
Maintained schools will have one Local Authority (LA) governor position, as defined in the Instrument of Government.
Academy schools may have an LA trustee, either at Trust board level or, in a multi-academy trust, at local governing body (LGB) level. Please check your articles.
Within the 'Related content and Resources' section on the top right of this page you will find a nomination form for LA governors/trustees. LA governors and trustees are appointed on the basis of the skills they will bring. The potential LA governor or trustee will need to complete the nomination form, which should be sent to the Governance Consultancy Team, who will liaise with the Local Authority on behalf of the board. Once the nomination has been approved we will inform the board, usually via the clerk, and the individual can be appointed at the next full board (or LGB) meeting. Their term of office will commence from the date of the meeting at which they are appointed.
Parent governors and trustees
In maintained schools the constitution will have a specific number of places for parent governors. Federations (regardless of the number of schools in the federation) will have two (and only two) parent places. Standalone schools will have a minimum of two parent places, but may have more, as stated in their Instrument of Government.
Academy schools will have parent places, in standalone academies these places will be on the Trust board; in multi-academy trusts the places may be at Trust board level, local governing body level, or both. Please check your articles.
In maintained schools an election process is carried out in order to fill parent vacancies, many academy schools also use this process. Within the resources below you will find a parent governor election pack, with guidance on how to conduct the process, model letters and ballot papers. For elected positions the board cannot insist on a particular skill, but they can certainly inform the electorate of the skills they are seeking. The term of office for a parent governor commences on the date they are elected.
It is worth noting that the parent governor or trustee is not on the board to represent the stakeholder group which elected them. The governing board must operate, collectively, in the best interest of pupils, not as a collection of individuals lobbying for the interests of the constituency from which they were elected or appointed. Meaningful and effective engagement with parents, staff and the wider community is vital but it is not the role of governing boards to provide this through their membership. Boards need to assure themselves that specific arrangements are in place to understand the views of parents, staff and the wider community and that their feedback is listened to.
Staff governors and trustees
In maintained schools the headteacher, or principal, has a place on the governing board, unless they choose not to take it up. This place is 'ring-fenced' for the headteacher or principal, so cannot be filled by anyone else should theheadteacher or principal choose not to be a governor.
Maintained schools will also have one place available for an elected member of staff. The vacancy is open to both teaching and non-teaching members of staff. In a federation the vacancy is open to all the schools in the federation.
Many academy schools also have staff representation on the board, the number of positions will depend upon what is stipulated in your Articles.
The staff governor position in maintained schools must be filled through an election process, where the vacancy is publicised to all staff and nominations are sought from eligible individuals. If there is more than one nomination a secret ballot will be held, where the staff vote for the candidate they wish to elect. Many academy schools also follow this process. For elected positions the board cannot insist on a particular skill, but they can certainly inform the electorate of the skills they are seeking. The term of office for a staff governor commences from the date they are elected.
Within the resources below you will find a staff governor election pack, explaining the process, the required timelines and providing model letters and ballot papers.
It is worth noting that the staff governor or trustee is not on the board to represent the stakeholder group which elected them. The governing board must operate, collectively, in the best interest of pupils, not as a collection of individuals lobbying for the interests of the constituency from which they were elected or appointed. Meaningful and effective engagement with parents, staff and the wider community is vital but it is not the role of governing boards to provide this through their membership. Boards need to assure themselves that specific arrangements are in place to understand the views of parents, staff and the wider community and that their feedback is listened to.
Associate members are appointed by the governing board to serve on one or more governing board committee. They may also attend and participate in full board meetings. They are not governors and therefore do not have a vote at full board meetings, but the board can agree that associate members may vote on decisions made by the committees to which they are appointed.
Associate members should be appointed because of the specific expertise and experience they can contribute to the effective governance and success of the school. The governing board may appoint a member of staff, (even if this means that the one-third rule is exceeded), 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 board members, and/or help the board respond to particular challenges that they may be facing.
The board is free to set the term of office for associate members, their term will start from the date of the full board meeting at which they are appointed as an associate member.
Academy schools are also permitted to appoint associate members under recent model articles. Please check your own articles, as earlier versions did not include this wording. 'The membership of any committee of the Trustees may include persons who are not Trustees, provided that (with the exception of the Local Governing Bodies) a majority of members of any such committee shall be Trustees.' (Article 101)
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Devon Agreed Job Description for the Clerk to Governors
DfE Clerking Competency Framework
DfE Competency Framework for Governance
Form H, Devon LA Maintained Schools
Form H, academy schools and out of area schools
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