Ratifying the decision of the headteacher recruitment panel

Understand your role and the process for ratifying the panel's decision. Find out what questions to ask to hold the panel to account.

Last reviewed on 8 February 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 3804
  1. What does it mean to ratify a decision?
  2. Is the governing board required to ratify the decision?
  3. Ratifying the decision
  4. Notifying the successful candidate

Thanks to education experts Jacqueline Baker, Brendan Hollyer and Harry James for their help with this article. 

What does it mean to ratify a decision?

Broadly speaking, 'ratify' means 'give formal consent to something, making it valid'. When going through the recruitment process, your board will select some members to be part of the selection panel.

It's the selection panel’s job to present a recommendation to the rest of the board, and there must be a majority vote in favour of appointing the selected candidate. This process is referred to as ratification.

Is the governing board required to ratify the decision?

Maintained schools

For a headteacher to be appointed, the full governing board must ratify the decision of the selection panel to appoint that candidate.

This is set out in regulations 15 and 27 of the School Staffing (England) Regulations 2009.


Although you have more freedom to determine your recruitment processes, it's recommended that you have a selection panel and that the full board ratifies the panel's decision. 

Check your funding agreement, articles of association and scheme of delegation in case these set out a particular process you need to follow.

You can find out more about the selection panel in our article about requirements and eligibility.

Ratifying the decision

You'll ratify the appointment during a meeting of the board.

Note: staff governors in maintained schools can attend and vote at this meeting (the Department for Education told us this). 

At the meeting:

The selection panel will present their preferred candidate

Ask questions to hold the selection panel to account

Vote to accept or reject the candidate

Notifying the successful candidate

The chair of governors should make an offer once the board has ratified the selection panel's decision. This should be a conditional offer, subject to the necessary checks. Note: in a multi-academy trust, it might be the CEO who makes the offer.

Don't forget to notify unsuccessful candidates of the outcome of their application, and provide them with feedback, too. 

Although the verbal offer and acceptance are binding in law, they're followed by a written offer and a formal contract of employment. This is done by the employer, which depends on the type of school:

  • If your school is a community, voluntary-controlled or community special school, the local authority is the employer. You'll need to notify them of the ratified decision so that they can appoint the successful candidate
  • If your school is a foundation, voluntary-aided or foundation special school, the governing board is the employer, and the chair of governors will usually make the appointment
  • If your school is an academy, the academy trust makes the appointment

This is explained on page 29 of the Department for Education's guidance on recruiting a headteacher


Jacqueline Baker is an education consultant who specialises in senior leadership recruitment. She supports schools through the recruitment process and helps them develop leadership capacity. Jacqueline also has experience as the chair of a governing body.

Brendan Hollyer is the chair of governors at 2 primary academies. He's also a trustee at another MAT which covers all phases of primary and secondary education. He's a former national leader of governance (NLG) and is a founding member of Independent Governor Services (IGovS). Formerly, Brendan worked as the director of conversions and governance for a multi-academy trust.

Harry James is a chair of a multi-academy trust of special schools and is a former national leader of governance advocate.

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