Role of Staff Governor

Luton Governor Services produce a handy leaflet outlining the Role of the Staff Governor(pdf), one of a series of useful and colourful resources that can be distributed to your Governing Body. See sections below for what the law says about the role, and how elections are carried out.

You will also find useful posed situations that staff governors face in this post from Dughall McCormick.

Why have staff governors?

• As an employee, the staff governor has a unique insight into the activities of the school.

• The staff governor brings to the governing body an understanding of the school’s ethos and culture as well as a close, professional knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses.

• Staff must have a voice on the governing body so that they can contribute, in partnership with other governors, to the strategic development of the school.

• The staff governor serves as a useful link between the staff and the governing body.

• Staff are key stake-holders in the school and as such must have mechanisms for their views to be included in school evaluation and improvement.

How can the staff governor be a useful member of the governing body?

Staff governors are representatives of the staff but do not have a mandate to put forward a particular point of view. Your role is to present the views of the staff reasonably and faithfully. You should seek colleagues’ views and make them known to the governing body, but be free to act in accordance with your own conscience and in the interests of the pupils as you see them. It is crucial to remember that, as a governor, your first responsibility is to the school and the governing body.

The staff governor also brings specialist knowledge and skills to the governing body, which can help in several ways. This includes:

• Contributing to discussions by:

- explaining the likely effect of any proposal on pupils’ learning or wellbeing;  

- drawing attention to the likely effect of a proposal on the staff.  

• Developing mutual understanding by:

- reporting back and explaining the reasons for the governing body’s decision to colleagues and improving staff’s understanding of the role of the governing body;  

- contributing up to date, regular and robust information to broaden governors’ understanding of the curriculum and pupil achievement;  

- helping staff and governors get to know one another better;  

- assisting the headteacher to ensure that governors are informed about special achievements by individual members of staff and encouraging fellow governors to acknowledge these.  

• Supporting the governing body’s monitoring and evaluation processes by:

- encouraging the headteacher and other staff to supply information about the school’s progress in clear language;  

- encouraging the governing body to ask questions that enable it to measure progress;  

- responding positively, constructively and honestly to questions from colleague governors.

• Focusing on important issues by:

- bringing staff opinions to the attention of the governing body;  

- keeping the classroom and children’s learning at the heart of discussions by the governing body.  

What works well?

Here are some examples of good practice in school:

  • During elections, and on appointment, ensure that all members of staff understand the role of the staff governor. This can prevent members of staff attempting to use you as a channel for concerns. Many staff governors introduce themselves and their role at a staff meeting.
  • Attend induction training. You may feel that you already know a great deal about schools in general, and your school in particular, but governorship brings new and different responsibilities.
  • It is helpful to form an understanding with the headteacher as to how you will act in cases where your views may be different from the headteacher.
  • Get to know as many members of staff as possible. This is easier in a primary than a large secondary but do your best.
  • Encourage governors to take opportunities to get to know the staff.
  • Include an agenda item at some staff meetings for staff governors to hear the staff’s views on subjects to be discussed by governors.
  • Represent all staff views and not just particular friendship or work groups.
  • You can give your own view and explain that others hold different views. You do not need to canvass staff to get exact numbers or the complete range of opinion but try and give the governing body an impression of the balance of opinion.
  • Inform new staff of your role – ensure this is covered at their induction.
  • Make sure that, once agreed, minutes (except confidential minutes) are posted in the staff room or in an accessible file.
  • Use notice boards to publicise governing body activities.

Conduct and Protocols

  • Governing bodies need the full participation of staff governors in order to be well informed about the implications of their decisions. A few specific points need to be understood by all members of the governing body:
  • Staff governors may participate in all activities of the governing body, including the selection and recruitment of staff, as long as they have no greater interest in the matter than other staff in the school. In common with all governors, staff governors also need to consider whether there is reasonable doubt as to whether they can act impartially within the principles of natural justice.
  • Staff governors must withdraw from the meeting when considering an agenda item in which they have a personal interest greater than that of other staff e.g. a promotion or possibly a situation where he or she has been involved in a particular issue relating to an individual pupil or parent.
  • The Regulations prevent people employed at the school being present during the discussion of, and decision on, any matter concerned with the pay and appraisal of individuals also employed at the school. It is, however, advisable for staff governors to be present when policy matters are discussed such as pay or performance management.
  • The chair and the governing body should create a climate where staff governors can speak freely even on occasions when they disagree with the headteacher. However, internal disputes that ought to be settled by the senior management of the school should not be brought to the governing body until internal procedures have been exhausted.
  • Where an issue arises which may be an area of conflict with the headteacher, you are advised to discuss this with him/her before the governors’ meeting so that s/he knows that you may be putting an alternative view at the meeting.
  • Remember the importance of not disclosing confidential information or details of voting. Most governing body business is conducted openly and can be shared with colleagues.  However, there may be occasions when an item on the agenda is deemed by the governing body to be confidential. This is usually because it involves an individual pupil or member of staff. In these cases, you should not disclose or discuss any information relating to the matter.
  • You must stay loyal to the decisions the governing body makes, unless you have requested that the minutes record your dissent.

Acknowledgements to Milton Keynes School Improvement Division

Guidelines on the election of staff governors, including template letters and suggested timings, are available from Hampshire CC. See also this guidance from Essex (pdf) The election process in most schools is a matter for the LA, invariably delegated to the headteacher, to arrange. In VA schools, the GB is the appropriate authority. See also information from:

The following information is based on the now obsolete “Guide to the Law” as published in May 2012.

This post will be updated in due course, as the Guide to the Law has now been replaced by a new Governors’ Handbook, published 14th May 2013.

Note that a staff governor’s term of office ends when they cease to work at the school. They could stand for appointment as a community governor if they wish to continue on the governing body, and if a vacancy exists and the governing body agrees to the appointment.

STAFF GOVERNORS

Chap 3 Para 9: Both teaching and support staff paid to work at the school are eligible for staff governorship. Staff governors are elected by the school staff and must be paid to work at the school – volunteers are ineligible. Any election that is contested must be held by ballot.

10.     At least one staff governor (in addition to the head teacher – see paragraph 11 below) must be a teacher, but if no teacher stands for election, a member of the support staff can be elected to take that place. If a governing body has three or more staff governor places, at least one staff governor must be a member of the support staff, but if no member of the support staff stands for election, a teacher can be elected to take that place.

11.     The head teacher is a member of the governing body by virtue of their office and counts in the member of the staff category. If the head teacher decides not to be a governor, he or she must inform the clerk of that decision in writing. The head teacher’s place remains reserved for him or her and cannot be taken by anyone else.

12.     School staff that are eligible for election as staff governors (i.e. who are paid to work at the school) are not eligible to serve as Authority governors or community governors at their school. If they are paid to work at the school for more than 500 hours in any consecutive 12-month period they are not eligible for election or appointment as parent governors. However, staff can vote in parent governor elections if they are parents. They can also be governors at other schools. Their employment status will not affect their qualification for governorships in these categories at another school.

27.   N.B. The governing body may not remove any staff governors.

PROPORTION OF GOVERNOR PLACES BY CATEGORY AND TYPE OF SCHOOL

24.     This table shows the proportion of places that should be allocated to a governing body, under the constitution structure that applies. Reconstituted GB’s (ie from September 2012) will have different proportions.

Category of governor
Type of school Parent

Staff

LEA Community Foundation/Partnership
Community, community special, maintained nursery school  At least one­third At least two, but no more than one ­third, including the headteacher One­fifth At least one­fifth
Foundation, foundation special (without a foundation) At least one­third At least two, but no more than one­ third, including the headteacher At least one, but no more than one­fifth At least one­tenth At least two, but no more than one­quarter
Foundation, foundation special (with a foundation) but not qualifying foundation schools At least one­third At least two, but no more than one ­third, including the headteacher At least one, but no more than one­fifth At least     one-tenth At least two, but no more than 45%
Qualifying foundation schools At least one, but enough to total at least one-third when counted with foundation governors who are eligible to be parent governors At least two, but no more than one­ third, including the headteacher At least one, but no more than one­fifth At least     one-tenth They must outnumber the other governors by up to two
Voluntary aided At least one, but enough to total at least one­third when counted with foundation governors who are eligible to be parent governors At least two, but no more than one ­third, including the headteacher At least one, but no more than one­tenth They must outnumber the other governors by two
 Voluntary controlled At least one-third At least two, but no more than one­ third, including the headteacher At least one, but no more than one­fifth At least     one-tenth At least two, but no more than one­quarter

Proportions and percentages must be rounded up or down to the nearest whole number.

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