There are over a quarter of a million volunteers governing in state schools in England. By joining them, you can make a valuable contribution to school leadership.

It is a rewarding role, working towards a shared goal of providing a high-quality education for children and young people in your community. It also provides an opportunity for personal development, building your skills and experience in areas such as project management, budgeting and working as part of a senior team. 

About the role

Governing boards meet regularly to look at the big picture and the school’s long-term goals. They set the culture and values of the school, responding to opportunities and challenges. Governors and trustees work closely with the headteacher, supporting them and challenging them.

Governors typically serve at schools that are maintained by the local authority whereas trustees serve on an academy trust board. They are responsible for:

  • developing a vision and strategy for the school
  • overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent
  • holding the school leader to account to ensure that every pupil has the best possible education
  • engaging with pupils, staff, parents and the school community to understand their views 

Activities can include:

  • attending governing board meetings: these normally take place around six times a year and may be held outside school hours
  • looking at information and evidence on the school’s progress and discussing with school leaders 
  • visiting the school to see plans working in practice, and listening to the views of staff, pupils and parents 
  • selecting and appointing a headteacher following the resignation of the current headteacher
  • making decisions about issues such as pupil exclusions and staff disciplinary matters
  • undertaking induction training and ongoing development

Watch this video to learn more about the role

Who can be a governor or trustee?

There are no specific qualifications or requirements for the role - every governing board needs a balance and diversity of knowledge, skills and experience. You don't need to be a parent or to have a background in education.

To be eligible to volunteer, you need:

  • the time to contribute (altogether, you can expect to spend 10-20 days each year on governance duties, with some meetings and visits taking place during the working day)
  • to be aged 18 or over
  • not to be disqualified under the relevant rules and procedures

Watch our webinar about who can become a governor or trustee

Apply to be a governor or trustee

You can use the website of your local authority or approach schools and trusts directly to see if they have any current or upcoming vacancies.

You can also sign up with either of the following free recruitment services. These services work with schools to help them find volunteers.

Further reading

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