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Last reviewed on 23 March 2021
Ref: 37147
School types: All · School phases: All

High-quality induction ensures that new governors and trustees can hit the ground running. Understand what you need to do to prepare them for their role, and how you can provide ongoing support.

Over the course of the past year, remote governance has become the norm. As your board returns to business as usual, you may still find that some ways of working remotely are here to stay. The suggestions in this article are flexible and lend themselves to both in-person and remote induction.

The chair usually leads induction

The chair should lead induction for a new governor but can delegate the responsibility to the vice-chair.

Whoever's responsible, the individual should keep the headteacher and clerk updated on the new governor's progress.

Set up a meeting with your new governor 

If you're leading induction, arrange a video call with the new governor.

You don’t need to invite the headteacher to this meeting as they don’t need to be involved yet. Also, it’ll help the new governor understand that you’re responsible for providing the leadership and direction of the governing board, not the headteacher.  

During the initial meeting:

  • Present the vision for improvement and strategy for the future
  • Explain how the governing board and its committees function
  • Outline your expectations of governors
  • Introduce the new governor to key documents – explain what they are and that you'll send them over for the new governor to familiarise themself with

Send them key documents

Make sure you send your new governor the necessary paperwork so they've got an overview of:

  • The structure of the board
  • The school's context
  • What's expected of them in their role, including their conduct, commitment and contribution to the board

Try to provide relevant information and advice at a pace that will support your new governor rather than overwhelm them. Take a look at our governor pack which you can adapt and send to a new governor outlining everything they need to know.

Assign them their mentor

Make sure your new governor knows who their mentor is – the mentor will act as their first port of call.

Let them know that they can always contact you as well, but their mentor will be there for them to meet with frequently to answer any questions, discuss progress and identify any need for further support.

Their mentor will provide ongoing support

It's beneficial for the mentor to speak with the new governor regularly, especially before and after:

  • Full governing board meetings and committee meetings
  • Governor visits
  • Appeals panel

This'll allow the new governor to ask questions, and their mentor to provide any relevant feedback.

Help them prepare for their first board meeting

Remember, the first full governing board meeting will be quite daunting for a new governor.

Make sure they have everything they need at least a week before the meeting, including:

  • The agenda
  • Any reports and papers that will be considered
  • Minutes from the previous meeting
  • The information they need to access the video call if they're attending remotely (along with any ‘ground rules’ your board has for video call etiquette)

Remind them to:

  • Carefully read all documentation related to the upcoming meeting 
  • Focus on an agenda point that they're interested in or have prior knowledge/experience of as they'll be more confident to make a contribution. They won't be expected to understand everything all at once!
  • Ask questions or ask for clarification on matters they're unsure of. It may help if they prepare questions in advance

You can point them to this article which explains how new governors can contribute to meetings.

Invite them to observe a committee

Invite your new governor to attend and observe the meetings for any committees they’re interested in joining. 

Set them up with training

We now offer comprehensive induction programmes for maintained school governors as well as for academy governors on local governing bodies in multi-academy trusts. This is free with your membership.

Our on-demand courses will give the newest members of your board the opportunity to learn at a time and pace that suits them, in the comfort of their own home.

Our courses have been specifically designed by experts, and include:

  • Bitesize sections of video clips
  • Quick-read articles
  • Practical tasks that help participants put their learnings to the test in real-life scenarios

Getting started

Have your new governor register with The Key for School Governors. They'll require a personal login, which they can create online by doing the following:

To create their personal log-in, tell them to: 

  • Visit My Key (https://my.thekeysupport.com/register/)
  • Have your school's postcode to hand, they'll need this for registration
  • Fill in the short registration form, and select 'The Key for School Governors' when given the option

Once they register, they'll have access to more than just training. They can access our full range of resources, read up on the topics they're likely to encounter and keep up-to-date with changes in education.

Ask your new governor to complete a skills audit so you know what their training needs are.

Other sources of training

Check whether your local authority (LA) or academy trust runs any induction courses for governors – they might be putting on e-courses or webinars. If they are, encourage your new governor to sign up to them.

For other sources of training, take a look at our article.

Download our induction checklist

If you’re the chair or vice-chair leading induction, or a mentor to a new governor, download our checklist to help you keep track of everything you and your new governor need to do.

Keep in touch

Your new governor is likely to feel a bit isolated when joining the board, so make sure you check in on them from time to time, and let them know that you’re there if they have any questions.

Also give them the option for a one-to-one meeting or video call with you – emails are great but you can’t beat hearing someone’s voice or seeing their face!

Sources

Our associate education and governance experts Fred Birkett, Harry James and Kate Foale helped us to write this article.

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.

Harry James is a national leader of governance. He is currently chair of governors of a primary school in London, and is part of the steering group for an academic research project looking at school accountability and stakeholder education.

Kate Foale is an adult education lecturer with specialisms in effective communications, strategic planning and managing change. She has extensive experience as a primary and secondary school governor and is a national leader of governance.

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