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Mentor to a new governor: role
Find out what you, as the governing board, can expect from mentors supporting a new governor. Share this article with any mentors on your board.
Thanks to Fred Birkett, one of our associate education experts, who helped us with this article.
Who should be a mentor
- The chair/vice chair of the board or a committee chair
- An experienced member of the governing board
- Someone who has the capacity to carry out the role
As chair, you should promote and facilitate the mentoring and support of your new governors. This is outlined on page 26 of the competency framework.
The mentor should:
- Provide ongoing support and information to the new governor
- Develop a committed member of the governing board
- Reinforce the value of governors asking probing questions, even those that may seem obvious
Contact with the new governor could include face-to-face discussions, phone calls and email/text discussions - both parties can agree to this. Whichever it is, make sure that it isn't onerous for either individual.
Direct the mentor to our resources
Be clear on how to induct new governors effectively in our article.
Make sure you, or the mentor, use our checklist for new governor induction as a basis to help:
- Determine the tasks you need to carry out
- Pull together the paperwork you need to pass on to your new governor
Direct new governors to use our free governor induction e-learning module.
Meet with the new governor
The mentor should set up a meeting with the new governor (preferably before the first general board meeting) to discuss:
- General expectations of governors
- The governing board’s code of conduct, if there is one
- The meeting schedule, to reinforce expected time commitments and to demonstrate how the governors work with the school during the year
- A typical full governing board meeting agenda, to demonstrate how this normally works
- National standards and expectations, alongside the school’s performance, to clarify aspirations
- Committees and their contribution to the function of the governing board, to identify any areas where the new governor’s skills can be put to use
Maintain the support
The mentor should speak with the new governor before and after:
- Full governing board meetings and committee meetings
- Activities such as governor visits
- Appeals panels
This will allow the new governor to ask questions, and the mentor to provide any relevant feedback.
The competency framework (on page 25) outlines that self-review is for everyone on the board, and that all governors should obtain feedback from various colleagues for their own development.
Example of a policy
Henley College in Henley-on-Thames has a policy for the mentoring of new governors.
It outlines what the new governor mentor will do on page 2. The clerk oversees the mentoring arrangements.
See examples of governor induction policies in our 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.
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