Terms of reference: template and guidance

Find out what you should include in your terms of reference, what they can be used for and who can create them. Download our template so you can develop your own.

Last reviewed on 25 April 2023
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 31942
  1. There's no rule on writing them, but the full board should approve them
  2. Use our template terms of reference
  3. What to put in them
  4. Terms of reference for full boards
  5. Review your terms of reference annually
  6. Specific terms of reference

There's no rule on writing them, but the full board should approve them

Typically, either:

  • The board writes and approves terms of reference. The relevant committee formally adopts them and creates a related work plan, or 
  • The committee puts together terms of reference and the board approves them 

In practice, the chair of the governing board/chair of the committee will probably write the terms of reference. 

Involve the full board: don't consider terms of reference in isolation. Include the full board, because it's important that responsibilities are delegated clearly and don't overlap.

See our article on terms of reference for trustees and local governing bodies to understand which boards and committees do, and don't, need terms of reference in an academy trust. 

Link governors might benefit from having their delegated responsibilities set out in a formal document - this doesn't need to be long,