Guidance for new governors

Being a new governor can be a daunting experience, so on this page we have some tips on how you can get settled in to your new role quickly.

Training and induction

We automatically book all new governors on our induction training sessions, which are free to attend. We also send all new governors an induction pack, which contains the following:

  • a welcome letter from the director
  • disqualification regulations – who can serve as a school governor
  • new governor induction training information
  • instrument of government for your school (which shows how many governors the school should have) and details of the membership of the governing body
  • contact details for the Governor services team.

You can also read more about the role in the DfE (Department for Education) handbook for school governors.

Get to know your school

It is important that as a new governor you aim to find out more about your school and to get first-hand experience of school life through visits. This will enable you to contribute confidently and effectively to discussions and decisions made by the governing body. However, if you can’t get in to school early on in your governorship, then it is worth doing as much research as possible on the school online, via the school’s own website and from sources such as OFSTED, who externally assess schools.

What is the commitment?

Governors are expected to attend meetings of the full governing body as a minimum requirement. However beyond that, it is up to individual governors to decide how much time you wish to commit to visiting the school or being involved in other ways.

How will I know meetings are taking place?

Each governing body must meet at least three times a year, usually once every term. Governing bodies will often meet more often. As a governor you will receive, by post or email, an invitation to your first meeting, normally at least seven days in advance. The letter will give you the time, date and venue of the meeting. Meetings are normally held at the school, usually after school or in the evenings, and last around two hours.

What will I have to do at meetings?

It is likely that the chair will ask you, as a new governor, to introduce yourself to the other governors, so be prepared to do this. If you have not been to a governors’ meeting before, it is advisable during your first meeting to get a feel for how the meeting works. Make notes on anything you think is important, particularly anything which you think you might need to refer to later. You will receive a formal record of the meeting produced by the clerk, the minutes, that will record all decisions reached by the governing body.

Who can help me with day-to-day issues?

There's a range of people who may be able to help with problems or other issues which might arise. Other governors, particularly the chair of the governors, are important contacts and may be able to help. It is worthwhile making informal contacts with other governors and the headteacher and staff of the school, since this will help in building up a picture of who does what on the governing body and in the school. In some schools, new governors are allocated a ‘mentor’, an experienced governor, already on the governing body, who makes contact with the new governor and helps them through the first few months of being a governor. If you have a mentor, this person may be the right person to start with if you have something you need to know.

If the matter is connected with the working of the school, the headteacher would be the appropriate person to approach. If the issue is about the work of the governing body, contact the clerk to the governors. In most schools this will be a member of the governor services team. Whatever the problem, it is always possible to contact governor services for advice.