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Governor meetings: attendance, voting rights and conflicts of interest
Read about who has the right to attend and vote at meetings of the governing board, committees, board of trustees, and local governing bodies. We also help you to understand the rules around when people are required to withdraw from meetings and not vote.
- Right to attend meetings
- Voting rights
- Conflicts of interest: withdrawing from meetings
- Viewing the minutes
Right to attend meetings
In maintained schools, the following people are entitled to attend any meeting of the governing board:
- A governor (unless they've been suspended)
- The headteacher of the school (whether or not that person is a governor)
- The clerk to the governing board
- An associate member
- Any other person if it's agreed by the governing board
You can exclude associate members from any agenda items which concern individual members of staff or pupils.
This is set out in Regulation 12 of the School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013.
The following people are entitled to attend committee meetings:
- Any member of the committee (unless they've been suspended)
- The headteacher, whether or not they're a member of the committee
- The clerk to the committee
- Any other person that the governing board or committee determines
This is according to regulation 25 of the School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013.
You should check your articles of association for rules around who can attend meetings of the board of trustees, committees and local governing bodies.
The Department for Education (DfE)'s model articles don't set any restrictions on who can attend these meetings.
You can download the latest version of the model articles of association from the page linked to below:
In maintained schools only governors (including the headteacher if they are a governor) may vote in meetings of the full governing board. Only members of the committee may vote in committee meetings.
All governors have equal voting rights, but the chair has a casting vote if there's a tie.
Associate members have voting rights on committees, but not at full governing board meetings.
This is set out in regulation 14 of the School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013.
You should check your own articles of association, but the model articles give the right to vote to all trustees who are present at the meeting.
Non-trustees cannot vote at the full board meetings, but may be given the right to vote at committee meetings.
Procedures for local governing bodies are decided by the trustees.
The chair's casting vote
When a vote is tied, the chair of the board has the casting vote.
The exceptions to this are when:
- The vote is tied in a committee and the chair is an associate member, rather than a governor
- The committee has been established to exercise functions relating to the appointment, grievance, conduct and discipline, capability, suspension or dismissal of individual members of the school staff
This is set out in regulations 14(4) and 26(6) of the School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013 and article 121 of the model articles of association for academies.
The DfE confirmed that this still applies even if the chair didn't vote in the initial election, as long as they are eligible to vote on the decision.
The chair can use the casting vote as they wish and is not expected to vote for the status quo.
Conflicts of interest: withdrawing from meetings
Governors, trustees, local governors and associate members must withdraw from meetings and not vote when:
- There may be a conflict between their interests and the interests of the governing board
- A fair hearing is required and there is any reasonable doubt about their ability to act impartially, or
- They have a pecuniary interest
If there's any dispute as to whether they're required to withdraw from a meeting and not vote, the rest of the governors at the meeting must vote on it.
A clerk may have a conflict of interest or pecuniary interest but is not required to withdraw from a meeting unless the clerk's appointment, remuneration or disciplinary action is being considered. However, where a conflict of interest or pecuniary interest occurs they must only act in the capacity of a clerk.
This is required under regulation 16 of The School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013 and article 97 of the model articles of association.
Our associate education expert, Jane Edminson, said at the beginning of each meeting, those present should be asked if they have any personal or business interests in any of the items on the agenda.
Any interests should be recorded in the minutes.
Members of staff who are governors
Members of staff who are governors (including where they are foundation or co-opted governors) shouldn't be present at any meeting where the pay or appraisal of individual staff members is discussed. They can remain in meetings where the quality of teaching is discussed in general terms, for example, "two of our teachers are at target and we have concerns about one", but not where they could identify the staff members being discussed.
This is set out in schedule 1, paragraph 3 of The School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013 and the model articles.
Otherwise, staff members only have a conflict of interest if their interest is greater than that of other staff. For example, if it's a discussion about a restructure of the senior leadership team, the deputy headteacher would have a conflict of interest, but if it's a discussion about restructuring the office staff, they wouldn't.
Viewing the minutes
The governing board must make the following available to any interested person, as soon as reasonably practicable:
The agenda for every meeting
- The signed minutes of every such meeting; and
Any report or other paper considered at any such meeting
The board may exclude any material relating to:
- A named person who works, or who it is proposed should work, at the school
- A named pupil at, or candidate for admission to, the school; or
- Any other matter that, by reason of its nature, the governing body is satisfied should remain confidential
This is set out for academies in articles 124 and 125 of the model articles of association.
Jane Edminson is a national leader of governance and a governor support officer for a local authority.
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