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Governor types and eligibility (maintained)
What are the eligibility rules for the different types of governor? We explain who is eligible to be a parent, staff, local authority, co-opted, foundation and partnership governor. We also link to a further article on being disqualified from holding office as a governor.
- Parent governors
- Staff governors
- Local authority governors
- Co-opted governors
- Foundation governors
- Partnership governors
In this article we set out the requirements from the Department for Education (DfE)'s statutory guidance on the constitution of governing boards in maintained schools.
Another article from The Key looks at the disqualification criteria for governors in maintained schools.
All parents or carers of registered pupils at the school at the time of a parent governor election are eligible to become parent governors, unless they are:
- An elected member of the local authority (LA) or
- Paid to work in the school for more than 500 hours in any consecutive 12 month period (at the time of election or appointment)
Parent governors can continue until the end of their term of office if their child leaves the school, or if they become a member of staff after the election, but they would be disqualified from standing for re-election.
Definition of parent
For the purposes of parent governors, parents are (page 4):
- All natural (biological) parents, whether they are married or not
- Any person who, although not a natural parent, has parental responsibility for a child or young person (this could be a step-parent, guardian or other relative)
- Any person who, although not a natural parent, has care of a child or young person. This means they are the person with whom the child lives and who looks after the child, irrespective of what their relationship is with the child
Grandparents would only be eligible to be parent governors if they care for the child on a full-time, settled basis or if they are the legal guardian of the child.
All staff who are employed to work at the school at the time of the election are eligible to stand for election as the staff governor.
This includes teaching staff, support staff, senior leaders and part-time staff. Staff governors should be elected for the skills they can bring to the governing board, rather than their position within the school and no member of staff takes priority over another.
Staff are disqualified from continuing as a staff governor if they cease working at the school.
Local authority governors
Only staff are specifically disqualified from becoming LA governors, but LAs are able to set their own eligibility criteria.
LA governors who start work at the school are able to continue until the end of their term of office, but cannot be reappointed.
The LA can nominate any eligible person as an LA governor, but it is for the governing board to decide whether the nominee has the skills to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school and meets any other eligibility criteria that they have set. The governing board appoints the LA governor.
Anyone is eligible to become a co-opted governor and governing boards are free to decide which skills they are looking for.
Staff can become co-opted governors, but the number of staff members on the governing board must not be more than 1/3 of the total membership of the governing board (when counted with the staff governor and the headteacher).
For example, if you have 12 governors, you cannot have more than 2 staff members appointed as co-opted governors.
There aren't any restrictions on who can be a foundation governor. It's up to the appointing body to decide who to appoint. This is usually the diocese, school's founding body, or a trust.
Some foundation governors are ex-officio, i.e. they're appointed by virtue of their office. Their role is the same as any other foundation governor.
Parents of registered pupils at the school are disqualified from being partnership governors.
Partnership governors have to be nominated. Individuals are only eligible to be nominated if the person nominating them believes that they have the skills needed to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.
The governing body must first try to appoint partnership governors from those nominated by:
- The "appropriate diocesan authority in the case of a Church of England or Roman Catholic school
- The "appropriate religious body" in any other case
- The parents of registered pupils at the school and "such others in the community served by the school as they consider appropriate" where the school doesn't have a religious character
This article was updated in response to a question from the chair of governors of a large secondary school in London.
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