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Last updated on 12 March 2018
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School types: Maintained · School phases: All

You should reconstitute your board if things aren't going well or to ensure you're fit for purpose in the future. Read more about when to reconstitute, terms of office, voting on new governors, managing surplus governors and electing a new chair and vice-chair.

When to reconstitute

You must reconstitute if you want to adjust the number of governors on your board. 

The Department for Education recommends reconstituting if things aren't going well. For example, if your school has a poor Ofsted judgement, or it's recommended by an external review of governance. 

You can also consider reconstitution as a proactive move to ensure you're fit for purpose for the future. 

Number of governors

You can read the rules about the required size and membership of the governing board here. 

Terms of office following reconstitution

The term of office for governors after reconstitution depends on whether they've transferred in the same category of governor as before. 

Governors who transfer in the same category as before (for example, they were a staff governor and they remain a staff governor) continue to serve out their original term of office.  

If they're appointed to a different category (for example, they were a staff governor and have become a co-opted governor), they begin a new term of office. 

This was confirmed by a representative of the DfE. 

Voting on co-opted governors

Only governors who have transferred to the new board in the same category are able to vote on any new co-opted governors that will be appointed during the reconstitution. (For example, if the board wants to appoint a former parent or staff governor as a co-opted governor.)

Any governors who have changed category are not eligible to vote on this. 

We confirmed this with a representative of the DfE. 

Electing a new chair and vice-chair 

Our associate education expert, Jane Edminson, said you should hold a new election for the chair and vice-chair after any reconstitution. 

You can read more about electing the chair and vice-chair here. 

Managing surplus governors

If you have more governors in a category than your new instrument of government allows, you must remove any extra governors if they don't offer to resign. This should happen after the new constitution has come into effect. 

The DfE advises that you make every effort to do this amicably and with care, by sensitive and honest negotiation about which governors are best placed to continue. 

If necessary, you should define the skills you require and conduct a skills audit of your existing governors. The Key has skills audits that you can use to do this. 

Any extra foundation governors must be removed by the person or body responsible for appointing foundation governors (which is often the diocese).  

In all other categories, the board must vote to decide which governors to remove. 

The vote must be specified as an agenda item which is sent out 7 clear days before the meeting. Governors are not allowed to vote in their own category, but may vote in other categories even if they've been voted to be surplus, as they don't cease to hold office until votes are cast on all categories where there's a surplus. 

This is set out on page 19 of the DfE's guidance, linked to in the first section of this article.


Jane Edminson is a national leader of governance and a governor support officer for a local authority.

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