The Role of the Governing Body

Governing Bodies

  • Schools’ Governing Bodies have existed in one form or another for many years.    
  • Membership now encompasses a wide range of people drawn from the School community and beyond.   
  • Every school is required by law to have a Governing Body. Typically, the Governing Body is made up of people who represent a variety of interests and hold a variety of skills and expertise that they offer freely to a school for the benefit of all.    
  • The one thing all Governors share is that their sole purpose in being a member of the Governing Body is to ensure that all the children in our schools receive the best possible education. They are not there to gain personally or financially from their involvement in schools.  
  • The Government recognises School Governors as the largest group of volunteers in the country and holds them in high esteem for the valuable role they play in society.   

One of them could be you!


The Governor Role at Chessington School  

Chessington School values its Governors’ breadth of experience and skills and recognises the contribution that Governors make to the success of the School. It also wants its Governors to feel that the job they do is rewarding and satisfying. The following description has been developed to help ensure that potential Governors have a better understanding of the role of our Governors and the type of person who may be suitable. The role of a Governor is voluntary and unpaid, although external training will be paid for.  

Who becomes a School Governor?  

People who have an interest in children’s futures and want to help them reach their full potential.  You don’t need to have children or be a parent of a child at the school to become a School Governor but you do need to be over the age of 18.  

What are we looking for in a School Governor?  

People who have time and energy and a desire to make a difference by bringing experience and fresh ideas. Governors should have a readiness to accept responsibility, be happy to ask questions, listen and learn and be able to work as part of a team. 

Governors are not required to act as educators nor do they need to be specialists in education. What is needed is the commitment to the well-being of the School, common sense, readiness to learn and personal qualities necessary to work with others and to take corporate decisions conscientiously with the help of professional advice.  For a general governor role the amount of time needed for the role is on average 4~5 hours per month.  

What is the role of a Governor? 

Essentially, the role of a Governor is a strategic one, offering support and challenge to the School in its role as a public provider of high quality, comprehensive 11-16 education.

Please refer to the National Governance Association (NGA) Website (please see web link below) for more information:

What is the composition of the Governing Body at Chessington School?  

The composition of the Governing Body at Chessington School is as set out in Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust’s (ECEDAT) Scheme of Delegation (please see the summary below), with Governors drawn from the staff, parents and the local community, all of whom give a commitment of their time and skills freely in the interest of the school and its community:   

The Local Governing Bodies in each school will have a minimum of five governors including the Head of School. Each school will take a skills based approach to getting the right Governors and this approach aims to increase the effectiveness of the Governing Body to ensure that it sets the vision and direction for the future and holds the School to account for its standards and conduct. The total membership of any Local Governing Body will not be less than 5 and will not exceed 15 (exclusive of Associate Members).

The membership of all Local Governing Bodies will include:

  • The Head of School 
  • At least one but no more than two elected Parent Governors
  • At least one but no more than two elected Staff Governors
  • At least one member, co-opted by the Governors and representing the local community
  • Other governors as the School decides based on required skills, professional expertise, local
  • connections or wider links.
  • At least one Trustee. 

The Local Governing Body may also appoint optional Associate Members to provide specific skills, knowledge and/or experience to the Local Governing Body. The scope and length of service shall be agreed with the Chair of Governors, but will not exceed a normal term of office of 4 years. Associates may attend, but not vote at, Local Governing Body meetings and may serve on committees.

Associate Members often provide specialist expertise to the School (sometimes remotely) and there is not the same requirement for Associate Members to attend Meetings as regularly as Governors. 

You can find out more about our current Governing Body members by following the link to Governor Profiles:

How are Governors appointed?  

The Head of School remains a Governor throughout his/her tenure. The staff at the school elect the other Staff Governor.  The parent body elects Parent Governors. 

Co-Opted external Governors are generally recruited by open competition, via advertisements on the School website, School newsletters, through the local volunteer centres or via the organisation Governors for Schools:

How do I become a Parent Governor?  

Vacancies for Parent Governors are advertised on the School website, in School newsletters and by letter to parents of children registered at the School. Parents including carers and step-parents, of registered pupils at the School are eligible to stand for election for Parent Governorship at their School.  If insufficient parents stand for election, the Governing Body can appoint parent Governors.  As a Parent Governor you are a “representative” and not a delegate and therefore vote according to your own views.  

How long would I expect to serve as a Governor?  

 All Governors serve a four-year term of office and Governors are eligible to stand again at the end of their term of office providing they continue to meet the relevant criteria applicable to their role.  Parent Governors may serve out their term of office, even if their child has left the school.  

What is the structure of the Governing Body and how many meetings are held each year?  


The Local Governing Body meets approximately six times a year. An annual calendar of meeting dates is agreed and published in draft each July for the academic year ahead.  


The Governing Body Committees (each with a Chair and Vice-Chair) are: 

  • Quality of Education (QE)
  • Finance and Business (F&B)
  • Behaviour & Attitudes and Personal Development (BAPD) 

Governors usually serve at least one Committee, each of which normally meets at least once a term and provides reports/updates at LGB meetings.  In exceptional circumstances the LGB or a Committee may arrange an extraordinary meeting to debate an important issue; Governors will be given as much notice as possible in such circumstances.  

LGB Meetings normally take place on a Wednesday evening from 6pm for around two hours.  On occasions, Meetings can last for up to two and a half hours.  Hot drinks are available. 

Committees meet at different times to suit the requirements of the School and Governor attendees.  

A number of special appeal Panels are convened from time to time to hear dismissals, or dismissal appeals, final grievance procedure appeals and student appeals or permanent exclusion hearings.  Appeal Governors are drawn from the members of the LGB and must have no vested interest in the matter under discussion.    

There are also Link Governor roles to specific responsibilities, as well as to School Development priorities. 

Do I need to attend every meeting?  

Governors should attend, wherever possible, all LGB Meetings and Committees to which they are assigned.  Meetings cannot take place if fewer than a certain number of the current membership is present (i.e. they are not quorate) so it is important to attend if you can.  You do not need to attend Working Parties if you are not a member, although you may choose to do so as an observer, at the discretion of the Chair.  

The Governance Professional keeps a record of Governors’ attendance at LGB meetings.  Apologies for absence and the consent of the meeting for the absence must be recorded in the Minutes. If any Governor does not attend any full LGB meeting for 6 months without the permission of the Chair of Governors, their membership of the LGB will be deemed to have automatically lapsed and they will be informed in writing of the situation by the Governance Professional.  

Will I receive any training?  

Yes. Training plays an important part in helping Governors become effective members of the Governing Body.  All new Governors undertake an Induction programme, which includes a tour of the School, a meeting with the  Head of School and Chair of Governors and receiving a Governor’s  Induction Pack.  They may also be assigned a mentor, who can act as a point of reference as they develop in their role.  The Chairs of Committees and  Governance Professional are also on hand to offer advice and guidance. Training is offered periodically through presentations at LGB meetings, external courses, mentoring, reading and online resources.  Resources are made available via the School, which meets the costs of any training.  

An annual audit determines the range and level of Governors’ skills and experience available to the LGB, as well as identifying any areas for development. The audit is also used as the basis of determining individual training needs.  The Chair of Governors and the Governance Professional will discuss this with Governors on an individual basis. 

Will I be paid as a Governor?  

School Governors work on a voluntary basis - they are expected to offer their professional or life skills pro bono (that is, free for the common good) so they do not get paid.   

You may be entitled to ‘reasonable time’ off work for public duties to go to Governor meetings or to carry out some of your duties if you are an employee and work in a qualifying occupation. The time must be agreed with your employer beforehand and your employer can refuse your request if it is unreasonable. A specific amount of time off is not laid down in law.   Your employer doesn't have to pay you while you take time off for public duties, although many do.  Your employment contract will normally say whether you are paid for this time off. 

How are meetings run?  


Chessington’s Local Governing Body has its own Terms of Reference, which are cascaded  down from Every Child, Every Day Academy Trust (ECEDAT). Membership of each Committee is agreed by the LGB, which seeks to strike a balance between Governors’ status, gender, skills and interests. 

Each meeting follows an Agenda, and is supported by discussion papers and regular reports originating from the school.  The Governance Professional ensures these are placed on the shared Governors’ Drive at least seven working days in advance of the meeting by email.  If a Governor wishes to put an item on the Agenda, they must notify the Governance Professional and  and Chair in order that the issue be included.  

The Chair of Governors leads the Meeting through the business, with contributions to the Meeting made through the Chair.  Every Governor should feel able to contribute and seek clarification on any issue they are uncertain about.  Decisions are reached through discussion and mutual agreement; a simple voting procedure determines the outcome of motions requiring approval.  The Governance Professional takes minutes and offers advice on procedural matters. 

How do you become the Chair of the LGB or Committee?  

The LGB elects a Chair and a Vice-Chair to lead its meetings, who are chosen from amongst those Governors who are not employed at the school.   They normally hold office for one year, with the arrangements confirmed by the first LGB meeting of each academic year within the period of tenure.  They can be reappointed for further years, but a maximum of 3 years is recommended.

The LGB determines the appointment of Committee Chair and Vice-Chairs as well as the leadership/membership of Committees. As with the Chair of Governors, Committee Chairs normally hold office for one year (with the arrangements confirmed by the first LGB meeting of each academic year), and are eligible for reappointment along the same lines as the Chair/Vice Chair role.

What type of skills are the Governing Body at Chessington looking for?   

School Governors are drawn from all walks of life. No specific educational qualifications are required. Enthusiasm, commitment and an interest in education are the most important qualities. The ability to act as a “critical friend” - someone who can offer both support and friendly challenge - is a key skill.     

The School has an inclusive approach and welcomes enquiries from all parents, professions and sectors of the community. It would particularly encourage applications from under-represented groups, including those with a background or interest in minority communities.   

The School endeavours to maintain a balance of skills and experience amongst its membership.   From time-to-time, as membership and priorities change, the Governing Body will assess the range of skills and expertise it has at its disposal and where there are evident gaps for which a particular skills set is required, it may actively seek these and will set these requirements out in the advertisement.  When vacancies arise we are interested in hearing from those with the following expertise: 

  • Financial Skills (Accountancy / Audit)
  • HR   
  • Marketing  
  • Community Engagement
  • SEN 
  • Specialist in Education

If you have skills and experience drawn from your employment and/or community activities, which you feel would be relevant and beneficial to the School we would be delighted to hear from you.  

The following generic skills are a guide to the qualities that are helpful when wishing to work as a team member on Governing Bodies, although it is recognised that no candidate will possess the full range of skills listed. 


Key skills  


Commitment to education  

Able to demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning and the role and mission of Chessington School in improving the community’s (and by implication the nation's) skills base.   

Commitment to Governance  

Ability to demonstrate or acquire a full understanding and appreciation of the principles of Governance, including the seven principles of public life*  

Interpersonal and team work  

Able to work positively with others and debate whilst maintaining a constructive atmosphere.  


Governors must honour their privileged position and not discuss any matters outside of the Governors’ meeting without the prior agreement of the Governing Body  


Able to listen actively to other views and express ideas/plans in a clear manner.  Able to communicate effectively.  

Planning and organisation  

Able to establish quickly an effective course of action for self and others to achieve goals that can be monitored by realistic performance targets.  To be visionary for the future plans of the school.  


Able to create the required energy/enthusiasm and commitment necessary to be effective and have the tenacity to overcome obstacles.  

Strategic perspective  

Able to develop a broad-based view of issues and events and perceive their long-term impact.  

Ability and willingness to learn  

Able to absorb sometimes complex information and rationalise appropriately.  Able to think laterally and arrive at a pragmatic solution. Willingness to listen and learn and committed to continuous improvement   


Able to demonstrate behaviour and skills that motivate others to achieve, inspire confidence in others to achieve objectives, and respect the views of others.  


Potential Governors should be able to offer some of the following attributes:  


  • A keen interest in the education sector and/or an understanding of the national context in which education operates.  
  • Experience of working in commerce, industry or public service at board or senior management level.  
  • Specialist expertise such as business planning, human resources management, estates management, community development, finance or law.  


Available to attend scheduled Meetings of the Governing Body and Committees and other panels, visits and monitoring duties as required.    

Equal opportunities and 

legislative requirements  

Committed to ensuring that legislative requirements are fulfilled, such as equal opportunities, disability, safeguarding, and health and safety.  


A person is not eligible to be a Governor if they have been declared bankrupt within the last 3 years or served a sentence for a conviction within the last 5 years or been removed from office as a member of a Governing Body within the last 10 years.  

All Governors are required to agree to enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and Section 128 direction checks on appointment and on reappointment.  

As Chessington School is part of an Academy Trust, Governors are required to provide evidence of their Right to Work in the UK on appointment and on reappointment.  If a Governor does not have the permanent right to work in the UK, an annual document  check must be made. 

What standards would I be expected to follow?   

The detailed duties of the Local Governing Body (LGB), Committees, senior post-holders and Governing Body members are enshrined in statute law.  

The key structures and business processes are summarised in the Governing Body’s Terms of Reference.  

All members are expected to sign up to the Governor’s Code of Conduct, which requires Governors to place the interests of the school and its students ahead of their own interests or those of any other group with which they are involved.  The Code provides a framework for Governors to work together cooperatively and share accountability for decisions made.  

Governors are required to declare any general personal interests so they can be recorded annually in a Register of Interests, updating them through the Governance Professional.  At the beginning of each meeting they will be asked to declare if they have an interest in any items on the agenda and may take no part in those proceedings.  Governors are required to complete another Declaration of Interest form, as necessary, should their circumstance change throughout the year.    

The Seven Principles of Public Life  

As a Governor, you will have a major impact on children’s life chances. You will also control significant resources. Underpinning all activities are the Nolan Committee’s Seven Principles of Public Life, which are as pertinent to Governors as to others in public life. 



Not allow the influence of bodies outside the school to affect your duties  



Submit to appropriate scrutiny  



Make choices on merit  



Only restrict information when public interest clearly demands this / data protection  



Declare any private interest  



Promote & support these principles by leadership and example  



Act always in the public interest, not for personal gain  

From the ‘Second Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life’, Nolan Committee 1996   

The Golden Rules  

  • Governors have a legal duty to help the school set and achieve high standards.  
  • Governors must ensure that the school is accountable.  
  • A Governing body is a corporate body. Individual Governors are bound by the corporate decisions their Governing body takes. Individual Governors have no power, unless delegated to them by the full Governing body.  
  • Governors do not intervene in day-to-day management. The Chair may do this only in exceptional circumstances.  
  • If you don’t understand something - ask.  
  • If you have a concern about your child, you must pursue that concern as a parent, not as a Governor.  
  • Observe confidentiality.  

How do I apply to be a Governor?  

If you wish to find out more about becoming a Governor at Chessington School or apply for a vacancy, please contact the Chair of Governors via the School Office 020 8974 1156 or email your CV to  If there is no vacancy, your name may be placed on a waiting list.   

Where can I find out more?  

GOV.UK website: 


UPDATED September 2023