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You are here:Home > Services > Clerking matters > Clerk to governors > DfE Guidance and Policy > Statutory Guidance on the Constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools
“Statutory guidance” means that governing bodies (including governing bodies of federations) and local authorities must have regard to it when carrying out duties relating to the constitution of governing bodies in maintained schools.
This guidance is about the constitution of governing bodies and their size, membership and skills. It also explains the arrangements for the constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools constituted under the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012.
All governing bodies of maintained schools are required to be constituted under the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012 or the School Governance (Federations) (England) Regulations 2012, as appropriate, by 1 September 2015.
Review date This guidance will next be reviewed in January 2016.
What legislation does this guidance refer to?
The School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012 (the “2012
Constitution Regulations”) and the School Governance (Federations) (England) Regulations 2012 (the “2012 Federation Regulations”) as amended by the School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014.
Who is this guidance for?
This guidance is for:
It will also be of interest to school leaders and school staff in all maintained schools in England and governor support organisations
This section relates to the appointment/ election of the various categories of governor, and summarises the provision made in the Regulations for each. The categories applicable to each type of school are summarised at Annex B. Information about disqualification is in section C of this guidance.
A.1 Parent governors (regulation 6 and Schedule 1)
Parent governors are elected by other parents at the school. Any parent, or carer, of a registered pupil at the school at the time of election is eligible to stand for election as a parent governor. Parent governors may continue to hold office until the end of their term of office even if their child leaves the school.
Schools must make every reasonable effort to fill parent governor vacancies through elections. However, the Regulations make provision for the governing body to appoint parent governors where:
The method of appointment is set out in paragraphs 10 and 11 of Schedule 1 to the Regulations.
Governing bodies may only appoint as a parent governor a parent who has, in their opinion, the skills to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school.
Elected parent governors cannot be removed from office – even if it becomes apparent that they are unable to develop the skills to contribute to effective governance or behave in a manner befitting the role. Every effort should therefore be made upfront to avoid potential difficulties later by informing prospective candidates of the nature of the role and securing their agreement to a clear set of expectations for behaviour and conduct – as
set out in a code of conduct. The 2012 Roles, Procedures and Allowances regulations set out the basis on which governing bodies may suspend governors, including parent governors.
Teaching and support staff who, at the time of election, are employed by either the governing body or the local authority to work at the school under a contract of employment, are eligible to be staff governors.
Staff governors are elected by the school staff. They cease to hold office when they cease to work at the school.
It is important that prospective staff governors understand the nature of the role of a governor – and specifically that their role will not be to represent staff, nor to stand alongside the headteacher in being held to account by the governing body, but to operate as part of the governing body to provide strategic leadership and to hold the headteacher to account.
As with elected parent governors, staff governors cannot be removed from office. Clear expectations of role and conduct should therefore be communicated and agreed upfront.
If no candidates are forthcoming, the position on the governing body remains vacant and an election should be held as soon as an eligible candidate is identified.
The headteacher is a member of the governing body by virtue of their office.
The headteacher may at any time resign as a governor, and withdraw their resignation, in both cases by notifying the clerk in writing.
Local authority governors are nominated by the local authority but appointed by the governing body. The local authority can nominate any eligible person as a local authority governor, but it is for the governing body to decide whether their nominee has the skills to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school and meets any other eligibility criteria they have set. Local authorities should therefore make every effort to understand the governing body’s requirements and identify and nominate suitable candidates.
An individual eligible to be a staff governor at the school may not be appointed as a local authority governor.
Foundation governors are either appointed or take the role by virtue of an office that they hold.
Where appointed, the appointment is made by the person identified in the instrument of government (usually the school’s founding body, church or other organisation). A foundation governor is someone who, in the opinion of the person entitled to appoint them, has the skills to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school, and who is appointed for the purpose of securing:
In appointing a foundation governor, the person entitled to make the appointment should seek to understand and take into account the skills and experience the governing body identifies that they need.
If an ex-officio foundation governor is unwilling or unable to act as a governor or has been removed from office under regulation 21(1) then a substitute governor can be appointed.
Partnership governors are appointed by the governing body. Individuals are only eligible to be nominated as a partnership governor if the person nominating them believes that they have the skills needed to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school. Likewise the governing body may only appoint a person as a partnership governor if they believe that they have the skills needed to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.
The number of partnership governors required on the governing body is set out in the instrument of government.
The governing body must first try to appoint partnership governors from those nominated:
Where the governing body cannot fill all the vacant posts from among the nominees, either because there were not enough or because they rejected some of the nominees as ineligible, then the governing body can fill those posts from among persons nominated by governors.
Where the governing body makes an appointment having rejected nominees as ineligible then they must put their decision and reasons not to appoint in writing to:
Co-opted governors are appointed by the governing body. They are people who in the opinion of the governing body have the skills required to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.
Associate members are appointed by the governing body to serve on one or more governing body committee. They may also attend full governing body meetings. They are not governors and therefore do not have a vote in governing body decisions, but may be given a vote on decision made by committees to which they are appointed.
Associated members should be appointed because of the specific expertise and experience they can contribute to the effective governance and success of the school. The definition of associate member is wide. Subject to the disqualifications set out in the Regulations, the governing body may appoint a pupil, school staff member, 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 body members, and/or help the governing body respond to particular challenges that they may be facing.
Published: 09/06/2016, by Sam Henson
Last Updated: 09/06/2016, by Sam Henson