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Governing Body Standing Orders

Agreed: Autumn 2023

Review: Autumn 2024


The core functions of a governing body are:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • Holding the Headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff; and
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.


1.Composition of the Governing Body

The governing body is composed of:

  • 3 Parent Governors
  • 1 Headteacher (ex officio)
  • 1 Staff governor
  • 1 Local Authority governor
  • 3 Co-opted Governors


As detailed in the Instrument of Government which was drawn up in May 2014 in accordance with the 2012 Constitution Regulations.


The term of office of a governor is four years.


2.The Skills Governing Bodies Need

The 2012 Regulations create an explicit requirement that all appointed governors have the skills required to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school. It is for individual governing bodies to determine what these skills are and be satisfied that the governors they appoint have them. “Skills” can be interpreted to include personal attributes, qualities and capabilities, such as the ability and willingness to learn and develop new skills.

All governors need a strong commitment to the role and to improving outcomes for children, the inquisitiveness to question and analyse, and the willingness to learn. They need good inter-personal skills, appropriate levels of literacy in English (unless a governing body is prepared to make special arrangements), and sufficient numeracy skills to understand basic data.

The governing body will identify and secure the induction and other ongoing training and development governors need to fulfil their role.


3.Election/Appointment of Governors

The Governing body will make every effort to help all prospective governors understand clearly the role of a governor by providing information on the role, the expectations of the role and the skills required. Published recruitment literature will include:


  • the core functions of the governing body and the role of a governor, and the induction and other training that will be available to new governors to help them fulfil it;
  • the expectations of governors, for example in relation to the term of office, the frequency of meetings, membership of committees and the willingness to undertake training; and
  • any specific skills or experience that would be desirable in a new governor, such as the willingness to learn or skills that would help the governing body improve its effectiveness and address any specific challenges it may be facing.


Before they are nominated for appointment or election prospective governors will be invited to observe a governing body meeting and to meet the chair, Headteacher and other governors. A code of conduct will be maintained and communicated to all prospective governors to set clear expectations of governors’ role and behaviour.


Co-opted Governors: When a vacancy occurs for a co-opted governor, the governing body is responsible for appointing a replacement.  The governing body should be notified of the vacancy in the agenda of the next full governing body meeting.  A candidate should be proposed and seconded and the governing body should approve the appointment. 


Parent Governors:  The election will be by secret ballot of parents/carers.  When a vacancy occurs, a letter will be sent informing parents and inviting nominations.  Nomination forms will be included and 10 school days allowed for their return.  If an election is required, ballot papers will be sent out as soon as possible and 10 school days allowed for their return to the school.  The count will take place that day and the result will be displayed on the school notice board and included in the next newsletter to parents.  The ballot papers will be held in school for 10 school days in case of a disputed result. 


Staff Governors:  The election will be by secret ballot of all staff.  When a vacancy occurs a notice will be posted in the staff room or a letter sent out to inform the staff.  Nomination forms will be available from the school office and 10 school days will be allowed for their return.  If an election is required, ballot papers will be circulated as soon as possible and 10 school days allowed for their return.  The count will take place that day and the result displayed in the staff room.  The ballot papers will be held in school for 10 school days in case of a disputed result.


Local Authority Governors:             

There is one place for a governor nominated by the local authority.  The governing body may detail and publish the skills that it requires of such a governor before an appointment is made.  These criteria will be clearly established with the nominating Councillor.  If the governing body does not regard the person nominated by the local authority as suitable, it can veto the appointment.  The local authority has the right then to nominate other people for consideration by the governing body. If the governing body has not specified any skills or eligibility criteria, then they are not able to veto the nomination.


 4.Election of Chair and Vice Chair

The governing body will elect from among its number a chair and vice chair.


The term of office of the chair and vice-chair is a minimum of 1 year and a maximum of 2 years. The term of office will be agreed prior to election and the end date specified.


The process for the election of chair and vice chair is:

  • Governors may self-nominate or may nominate a fellow governor for chair and/or vice-chair.  The permission of the nominee must be sought.
  • nomination forms should be submitted to the clerk by the date agreed at a full governing body meeting
  • the agenda for the next meeting will list the candidates for both chair and vice-chair
  • the second item will be the election of the chair
  • nominees for the position of chair may be asked to leave the room whilst the governing body takes a vote
  • the clerk will chair the meeting for the election of chair. 


The newly elected chair will then deal with the election of vice-chair: 

  • nominees for the position of vice-chair may be asked to leave the room whilst the governing body takes a vote.


 5. Chair’s Actions

The chair, or in his or her absence the vice chair, has authority to take certain urgent actions if a delay in dealing with the matter would be seriously detrimental to the interests of the school, a pupil at the school or their parents, or to a member of staff at the school. Any actions taken in such circumstances must be notified to the full governing body at the next meeting.


The following actions cannot be taken without reference to the full governing body:

  • matters relating to the alteration or closure of schools
  • change of school category or constitution
  • approval of the budget


 6. The Clerk to the Governing Body

The full governing body must approve the appointment of the clerk.


The clerk’s role is to:

  • convene meetings
  • draw up, with the chair and Headteacher, the agendas which must be issued together with all papers 7 days before the meeting
  • ensure that minutes of the proceedings of meetings of the governing body are drawn up and signed (subject to approval of the governing body) by the chair at the next meeting
  • issue minutes to the governing body within 2 weeks of a meeting (good practice)
  • maintain a register of members of the governing body, and of associate members, and report vacancies to the governing body
  • maintain a register of business interests of governors, associate members, senior leadership team and all staff.   
  • record attendance and any apologies tendered and accepted
  • provide advice and information to the governing body
  • chair the meeting pending the election of the chairman
  • provide advice on and clerk, if available, additional meetings as required e.g. exclusions, appeals and staffing
  • ensure that Part 1 signed minutes, agendas and any papers presented at a meeting are available for public inspection
  • ensure that all signed minutes, agendas and any papers are held securely in school
  • receive relevant correspondence
  • perform such other tasks as may be determined by the governing body from time to time.


 7. Committees

When establishing committees, the governing body should ensure that at least three governors are appointed to each committee and;


  • Agree the membership annually and the method of electing the chair of each committee
  • establish terms of reference, including delegation and review annually
  • allow working parties and committees to determine their own timetables within given limits


The membership of any committee of the governing body may include persons who are not members of the governing body.  These members have no voting rights. However, associate members of the governing body, assigned to committees, have such voting rights as the governing body wishes to assign them.


The Headteacher has the right to attend any meeting of the governing body or any of its committees or working parties subject to the statutory rules laid down in respect of exclusions, and staff disciplinary matters.


The governing body can set up committees to deal with pupil achievement, finance, premises, curriculum and any other areas of the school’s work as they deem appropriate.   


The governing body will review the membership and terms of reference of such committees at the first meeting in each academic year. 


A committee will provide minutes showing its decisions and actions, which will be presented to the next meeting of the governing body for information. The committee will approve the minutes of each committee meeting at the subsequent meeting and a signed copy, together with agenda and any papers presented, excluding any Part 2 documents, will be filed in school, for public view if requested.


 8. Working Parties

In order to ensure the most efficient use of time and resources the governing body can set up working parties to gather information and/or make recommendations to the governing body/committee.


If the governing body establishes working parties to make recommendations or provide information they will be discontinued when their work has been completed.


 9. Conducting Meetings

The chair will conduct all meetings of the full governing body except where, in his or her absence, the chair will be taken by the vice chair. 


If both the chair and vice chair are absent from a meeting or have resigned, the governing body must elect from its number a chair for that meeting.


If both the chair and the vice chair resign, the governing body must hold a special meeting as soon as possible to elect their successors.


It is the role of the chair to ensure that governor business is conducted in an effective and efficient manner.


 10. Calendar of Meetings

The whole governing body must meet at least three times a year.


The governing body will plan the dates and times of its meetings a year in advance, for publication at the end of the summer term.  The aim will be to limit each meeting to two hours maximum.


 11. Quorum

For meetings of the full governing body the quorum will be one half, rounded up to a whole number, of the complete membership of the governing body, excluding any vacancies. 


The quorum for a committee will be three governors who are members of the committee.


A meeting may be held if it is inquorate but no votes can be taken or decisions made.  If during the course of a meeting it becomes inquorate, no further decisions can be made.


 12. Alternative Participation & Voting

The governing body has agreed that all voting will be made in person at the meetings.


 13. Agenda

The agenda will be prepared by the clerk in consultation with the chair and Headteacher and circulated at least 7 days before the meeting.


Individuals or groups of governors may put forward items for the agenda by writing to the clerk at least 14 days before the meeting.


Supporting papers and other documents (including the Head teacher’s report) relating to the agenda must be sent to governors with the agenda. 


An item raised by an individual governor, once dealt with to the governing body’s satisfaction, should not normally be raised again within one calendar year. 


 14. Any Other Business (AOB)

AOB will not appear on any agendas although “items for the next meeting’s agenda” may feature at each meeting.


 15. Attendance

The clerk will keep a record of all persons attending a meeting of the governing body.


The minutes will also record the names of governors who have sent apologies, which have been accepted, and the names of governors who are absent (or whose apologies have not been accepted).


The time of arrival of any person attending the meeting late and departure of any person leaving before the end of a meeting will be recorded in the minutes.


If a governor fails to attend meetings without the consent of the governing body, for a period of six months, they will be disqualified from holding office as a governor.  The six month period commences from the date of the first meeting where the governing body does not accept the governor’s apology for absence.


 16. Governor Discussions

The chair will ensure that all governors have the opportunity to express their views and that debate is not dominated by a small minority of the governors to the exclusion of others.


It is the role of the chair to ensure a smooth and efficient meeting and at times it will be necessary to draw discussions to a point that a decision can be made.


Recommendations received from working parties will be recorded in the written minutes.


The governing body will receive, but not debate, decisions that it has delegated to a committee or to an individual.  Decisions will be recorded in the minutes.


The full governing body will not debate or discuss any matter that is likely, subsequently, to be the subject of a parental complaint or disciplinary hearing.


 17. Decision Making

Members of the governing body accept that only a full meeting of the governing body can make decisions unless an individual or a committee has been delegated the power to deal with a specific issue.


A simple majority through a show of hands will be made after full discussion and decision unless any one member, or more, requests a secret ballot.


If there is a tied vote at the end of a discussion, the chair of the meeting has a second or casting vote.


Decisions of the governing body may only be amended or rescinded at a subsequent meeting of the full governing body when the proposal to amend or rescind appears as a separate agenda item.

A decision of the governing body is binding upon all its members.  Any governor publicly dissociating themselves from a decision may be judged by fellow governors to:


  • Have acted in a way that is inconsistent with the school’s ethos/religious character
  • Have brought the school, or may be likely to bring the school into disrepute


and this could result in that governor being suspended for a period of up to six months.


 18. Minutes of Meetings

The minutes of meetings will be drawn up on consecutively numbered pages. 


A dissenting view may be recorded in the minutes of the meeting, if that is the wish of one or more persons present.


Copies of the draft minutes, checked for accuracy by the chair and the headteacher, will be sent to all members of the governing body within 14 days of the meeting.


The minutes of a meeting will be considered for approval or amendment at the next meeting of the full governing body. Each page initialled by the chair, signing them as a true record.


Actions will be undertaken, by individuals or committees, based on draft minutes and need not await the approval of minutes at the next meeting.


Those matters that must by law remain confidential or which the governing body decides shall be confidential will not be published in the main minutes of any meeting but will be classified as Part 2 minutes, available to governors only.


Minutes of meetings, together with the agenda, Head teacher’s report and supporting papers will be available for public inspection once the minutes have been approved by the full governing body and signed by the chair.  These will be available for inspection at any reasonable time, by arrangement with the school office.


 19. Access to Meetings of the Governing Body

Members of the governing body, associate members and the clerk are entitled to attend a meeting of the governing body.


When the Headteacher is absent the Head teacher’s nominee may attend the meeting but does not have voting rights.


If the governing body has agreed to hold open meetings, parents/the public will be given reasonable notice of the date and time.


Teachers may be invited to attend meetings of the full governing body as part of his or her professional development.


The chair, on behalf of the governing body, may ask a visitor to leave the meeting.  If the person refuses to leave when asked, that person is trespassing and the governing body has the right to have him or her removed.


The governing body may exclude an associate member from any part of its meeting, which the associate member is otherwise entitled to attend, when the business under consideration concerns an individual member of staff or pupil.


 20. Correspondence

Significant items of correspondence will be presented to each meeting of the governing body, including any which the chair has already taken urgent action on, so that the need for, and the nature of any action may be decided or confirmed.


The governing body will determine, by resolution, who should write letters, policy papers or discussion documents on behalf of the governing body.


No governor should write such a letter or policy paper without the delegated authority of a committee or the full governing body.


Governors will respond to emails within 48 hours (excluding weekends); priority emails will be responded to within 24 hours. Governors will inform the headteacher if they are due to be away on holiday during term time. The Headteacher will inform the Chair if she is due to be away from school.


Governors will avoid emailing staff at the weekend or during a school holiday; if an email is sent during these times, staff will not enter into correspondence unless it is an emergency.


 21. Head teacher’s Responsibilities

The Head teacher’s responsibilities include:


  • the internal organisation, management and control of the school;
  • the educational performance of the school.


The Headteacher is accountable to the governing body for the performance of the school and must comply with any reasonable direction of the governing body.


The Headteacher has a statutory duty to keep the governing body fully informed and will present a written report to each termly meeting of the governing body.


Where important information required by the governing body is given orally, it will be recorded in the minutes in appropriate detail.


Where information is required by the governing body but is not so readily available, reasonable time will be given for its production.


Where expertise or contribution to discussion is needed but not available within the governing body, the governing body may consider appointing an associate member from amongst pupils, staff or the community.


 22. Public Statements

Public statements e.g. to the press will only be made by agreement of the full governing body.


 23. Pecuniary and Personal Interest

The governing body will maintain a register of the pecuniary interest[1] of its members signed by the relevant member(s).


Members will also draw attention, as appropriate, to their declared pecuniary or personal interest in an agenda item at the start of each meeting of the full governing body.


A governor will be required to withdraw from a meeting if he or she (or a relative, to the knowledge of the relevant person):

  • Stands to gain financially from a matter under consideration
  • Has a personal interest in a matter under consideration
  • Is a relative of a pupil, a parent or an employee being discussed.


Governors who have declared a personal interest must be allowed to attend a meeting of a committee or the governing body to give evidence, if they have made an accusation or are witnesses in the case that is under discussion.


 24. Parental Concerns

The governing body must approve a Parental Concerns policy. 


 25. Staff Grievance and Discipline

The governing body must approve procedures for dealing with staff disciplinary matters and staff grievances.


 26. Review

Amendments to these Standing Orders may be made only by the governing body.


 27. Distribution

The Standing Orders will be made available to each member of the governing body, new governors when they join and the clerk.  An additional copy will be filed as part of the record of the meeting at which they are agreed or amended.  Once agreed the chair should sign and date the last page and initial those preceding.




[1] Schedule 1 of The School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013 explain the term ‘pecuniary interest’

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