A commitment to governor development is an important aspect of being an effective governing body. The September 2014 Ofsted inspection handbook says that governors will be judged on “whether they hinder school improvement by failing to …. develop their own skills”.

The September version of the DfE Governors’ Handbook says:

1.8.2 Support and training for governors

Governing bodies have a challenging job to do. High quality induction and professional development is vital to equip governors with the skills they need, but we do not think that it is for government to make training compulsory. Our focus is on the outcome of effectiveness, it is governing bodies that understand best the training and development needs of their governors.

Good governing bodies set out clearly what they expect of their governors, particularly when they first join the governing body. The governing body’s code of conduct should set an ethos of professionalism and high expectations of governors’ role, including an expectation that they undertake whatever training or development activity is needed to fill any gaps in the skills they have to contribute to effective governance. If a governor fails persistently to do this, then they will be in breach of the code of conduct and may bring the governing body or the office of a governor into disrepute – and as such provide grounds for the governing body to consider suspension.

Good governing bodies also carry out regular audits of governors’ skills in the light of the skills and competences they need, and actively seek to address any gaps they identify – through either recruitment or training. They have succession plans in place and develop future leaders by identifying and nurturing talent and sharing responsibility. It is for governing bodies to identify training and development opportunities and select those that meet their needs.

Governing bodies should consider giving the vice-chair or another governor a specific responsibility for ensuring every governor develops the skills they need to be effective. Rather than simply track governors’ attendance at training courses, with administrative support from the clerk, this governor would be responsible for ensuring that every new and existing governor develops their skills to make an active and valuable contribution to the work of the governing body. Any persistent skills gaps across the governing body or for individual governors should be brought to the attention of the chair. (END)

Induction training for new governors gives an overview of the roles and responsibilities of the governing body, whilst other courses offer specific skills such as an understanding of school performance data, managing the budget or how to undertake the headteacher’s performance management. An audit of governors’ skills and expertise will help to identify the training needs of your governing body. In addition, there are statutory requirements, such as the need for at least one member of an interviewing panel to have undertaken safer recruitment training, which may determine the priorities for governor development. The National Governors’ Association (NGA) strongly believes that if governors are going to carry out their responsibilities effectively, then they need to be trained.

How do you evaluate the impact of training that has been undertaken? C2G has produced this Training evaluation for GBs sheet (Word doc). An interactive version of the form has kindly been produced and shared by Naureen Khalid: Training evaluation form 2.doc .
The TDA (Teachers Development Agency, now obsolete) said: It is essential that your colleagues identify their intended outcomes before planning and engaging in any CPD activity. This requires a clear picture of what things are like before the CPD takes place (the baseline) and a clear idea of how things should look when it is completed (the impact). From “Impact Evaluation of CPD” (2007)

Who coordinates the training and development of the Governing Body?

NB See the related post on the role of a Skills Governor (September 2014)

There may be a Training Liaison Governor, sometimes known as a “Link” Governor, who has the role of identifying training needs, accessing information about courses, making bookings and maintaining a record of the training that has been undertaken.  (NB Note that “Link Governor” is also used as the term for a governor who links with a specific subject or year-group in school)

View job descriptions from  Lincolnshire and Essex. A leaflet on the role of the Training Link Governor is here.

Click here for links to other Training and Development posts.

Training and development for the Governing Body can be accessed in various ways:
a) Courses and bespoke training provided by your own local authority Governor Services Unit / School Governance Team.
b) Online learning from Modern Governor and GEL
c) Distance learning from Educare: First Certificate in Governance
d) Other face-to-face training providers, such as C2G Training ( )
e) Collaboration between Governing Bodies to share expertise Please contact us if you have experiences to share of how this has worked
f) The Key for School Governors (previously known as Ten Governor) is a paid subscription service that provides researched answers to governors’ questions.( The Key)

Should training for School Governors be compulsory? Sean Whetstone’s School Governing blog summarises findings from Chapter 4 of the NFER report, Models of Governance.   The main benefit of a requirement for mandatory training identified amongst coordinators of governor services was that it would provide volunteers with a good level of knowledge and understanding in order to carry out their role effectively. For example, one coordinator expressed her frustration at governors having the option not to undertake training: “You would never expect a magistrate to start passing sentence on people if they hadn’t had the training, so why should we have people managing sometimes multi-million pound budgets and affecting the education of our young people without having had the training to do it?”

In the NFER report, the key findings included:

• The majority of governors who had accessed training and, in particular, face-to-face training felt that it was useful. Moreover, the clerk was considered a key source of support amongst most governors in order to help them fulfil their role. • Overall, there appeared to be some scope for improvement with regard to raising awareness of training opportunities and encouraging attendance amongst governors across schools to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake the role effectively. • There was some evidence amongst survey respondents that governors would welcome further information, advice and guidance, particularly in relation to new developments in education, self-evaluation, specific issues and statutory requirements, and legal responsibilities. • In the light of budget cuts, the most effective way of sustaining training and support for governors and clerks, related to sharing and dissemination of good practice and information, is through networking opportunities.