Becoming a governor

‘Effective governance begins with effective governors’

  • Governance and school leadership needs to blend into a powerful force for school improvement and high pupil outcomes.
  • The Ofsted inspection framework means that governors must demonstrate shared responsibility for challenge and support for the school leadership team and also recognise that they themselves are part of that leadership team.
  • Governing bodies are a collection of individuals who bring different skills, knowledge and expertise to governance but with a common motivation to be involved.

There are more than 2,500 governors involved in 166 schools in East Sussex. Maybe you could join them?

This is a challenging and rewarding role for anyone who wants to help children do better at school, cares about the education children receive, and wants to strengthen links between schools and their community. To find out what would be expected of you, see our page what do governors do?

Every maintained school has a governing body which is made up of:

  • parent governors, elected by other parents with children at the school
  • staff governors, elected by school staff
  • Local Authority governors, recommended or appointed by the Local Authority
  • community or co-opted governors, chosen by the governing body from the community, including local businesses
  • foundation governors in church schools and some other types of schools, appointed by the church or related organisations.

What qualifications do governors need?

There are no formal qualifications. Schools need volunteers with experience of life. The one essential requirement is an interest in, and commitment to, the education of children. Governors are ordinary people, drawn from many areas of society. They need to be able to devote time to getting to know the school well and be available to support and challenge it.

A governor must be a good listener, and someone who is able to read and take in information easily. A governor must be able to:

  • raise questions and take part in discussion and decision-making
  • be discreet, open minded and fair
  • be a source of ideas and a good communicator
  • be enthusiastic about the work of the school
  • be prepared to work as part of a team.

Whilst schools are keen to welcome applications from all areas of society, there are certain criteria that have to be met before your application can be accepted. Find out more about school governor disqualification criteria.

How long do governors serve?

The usual term of office is four years. However, governors are volunteers who can leave at any time and can similarly be re-appointed or re-elected.

What help and support is available?

A great deal of professional advice and support is available to help governors with their duties and responsibilities.

  • East Sussex Governor Services provide a comprehensive programme of support including induction training.
  • Governors are also supported by the headteacher, the chair of governors, other governors and the clerk to the governing body.
  • National Governor organisations run by governors for governors, including a wide range of advice and guidance for governors online.

How do I apply to become a school governor?

School Governors’ One-Stop Shop (SGOSS) is a charity that recruits skilled volunteers to be school governors in England, funded by the Department for Education and other trustees.

They work with any school or Local Authority that has governor vacancies and services are completely free to everyone involved.

Please see our page on applying to become a school governor.