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Last reviewed on 9 March 2021
Ref: 5327
School types: Maintained · School phases: All

Governing boards must publish a register of interests online. Use our template register to make sure you've got everything covered, and read up on the requirements.

What you need to do: in summary

  • Your board must keep a register of the up-to-date business and pecuniary interests of governors and the headteacher. This is to make sure your board is transparent and open
  • You must publish your register online, and say that you’ll do so in your code of conduct
  • The register should be in a "readily accessible form" with information available on a webpage "without the need to download or open a separate document"
  • Clerks usually manage the register, and ask governors to update it annually or when their circumstances change

The rules are set out in the statutory guidance on the constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools (see page 12).

Template declaration form and register

Collect the details of governors' interests using our template form: 

Use our template to help you publish your register on your website:

Examples from schools

Who should be included on the register?

All governors, including the headteacher and any associate members, must declare their interests. If your associate members have voting rights on any committees, state these.

If you’re on an interim executive board, these requirements apply to you as you’re standing in the place of governing board. Our expert Keith Clover, told us this.

Clerks are exempt.

Where people don't have any interests, it's up to you to decide how to address this on the register. You could list every governor and say they have no interests. Or, state that "all parties have declared interests, including where they have none. All interests that exist have been recorded on the register". Forbes Solicitors gave us this advice.

What counts as an interest?

Under the statutory guidance, you need to declare: 

  • A business interest in a company that could stand to gain from your position on the governing board (a supplier used by the school, for example)
  • Governance roles in other educational institutions
  • Interests arising from relationships with other governors (including spouses, partners and close relatives)
  • Interests arising from relationships with members of school staff (including spouses, partners and close relatives)

You'll probably also be asked to declare any relevant business interests that any member of your immediate family has (see section 4.9 of the DfE's guidance on schemes for financing local authority maintained schools).

It’s up to you to decide what else to declare. As a general rule, interests are things that would affect your ability to act impartially and influence your decisions – for example, this might be employment at the school, if you’re not a staff governor.

You don’t need to declare:

  • Business interests that are no longer current
  • Staff governors’ employment at the school – this is obvious by virtue of their position

If you’re not sure an interest counts, err on the side of caution and declare it. See more guidance here.

How specific should the register be?

You’ll notice our template declaration form asks for more specific details than the register – for example, the form asks for the name of the business you have links with, while the register just provides a description of the interest.

The clerk needs detailed information about each interest to make sure they can monitor conflicts of interest during meetings. The clerk and the chair should hold this information securely.

However, you don’t have to publish this level of detail online as long as it’s clear to the public that there’s an interest or relationship. In the register from West Byfleet Infant School, for example (linked to above), it says for one governor just that his wife is an employee at the school.

Our experts Fred Birkett and Brendan Hollyer explained this to us.

You're also not required to publish the business interests of immediate family members online – the statutory constitution guidance (linked to at the beginning of this article) only requires you to publish governors' and associate members' interests.

Data protection

If you do want to publish more detailed, personal information online as part of the register, such as the name of a spouse, weigh up whether this is necessary.

Your decision needs to balance the individual's right to privacy with the need for you to publish this information so the public are aware of the potential conflict of interests.

If you decide it’s necessary, make sure you get the person’s consent first.

The Information Commissioner’s Office provided this advice. Contact them directly if you’re not sure about your specific situation.

Sources

Keith Clover is a national leader of governance. He chairs two governing bodies within a multi-academy trust and is an academy consultant for a diocese.

Fred Birkett is an experienced teacher and education consultant. He has been a governor for 20 years in primary and secondary schools and a chair of governors for half that time.

Brendan Hollyer is the vice-chair of governors at a primary school and an all-through special school. He has been a national leader of governance since 2014 and provides training and support to schools in the south east. Brendan has also worked as the director of conversions and governance for a multi-academy trust.

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