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 6 May 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
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  1. Who can write and approve the terms of reference?
  2. Download our template
  3. What should be in them?
  4. You can use it for panels, committees and link governors
  5. Does the full governing board need terms of reference?
  6. Review your terms of reference annually
  7. Specific terms of reference: examples

Hayley James, one of our associate education experts, helped us to write this article.

Who can write and approve the terms of reference?

There's no set rule on who can actually write 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/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 as it's important that responsibilities are delegated clearly and don't overlap.

If you're the chair of the governing board or chair of the committee, it'll probably be you who needs to download and use our template to write your terms of reference. Adapt it for any terms of reference you