Top tips to get your governors on school visits

Boost your board's engagement with school life with these simple ways to encourage them to go on school visits.

Last reviewed on 19 March 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 36316
  1. 1. Make school visits an expectation
  2. 2. Have a visit schedule
  3. 3. Give each governor a responsibility
  4. 4. Make visits easier using our resources
  5. 5. Offer mentoring to newer governors
  6. 6. Organise a governor day each year
  7. 7. Include informal visits and events in your schedule
  8. What to do if governors still aren’t participating in school visits

1. Make school visits an expectation

Visits are the bread and butter of a governor's role. Get your governors on board by explaining how valuable visits are for your work as a board, and for supporting school improvement. 

Include it when you recruit new governors

Have school visits as an expectation in all role descriptions when you recruit a new governor. Use our templates to help you do this, and store them in a folder on GovernorHub so they're easily available for your governors.

Make it clear as part of induction

Be upfront about what you expect from the start. Explain that visits allow you to develop a meaningful understanding of the day-to-day running of your school, which allows you to ask better questions and to monitor effectively. 

Find out more in our article about how to induct new governors effectively.

Get all governors on board 

For all of your governors, have a code of conduct and/or written commitment statement so that they're all on the same page and understand what's expected of them.

Consider having a school visits policy to keep your governors on track during visits. 

2. Have a visit schedule

Plan this with the headteacher, ideally in the last 6 weeks of the school year for next year’s dates, or at the start of the school year. This will give your governors plenty of time to plan their visits. You could also use your board's GovernorHub calendar to set your school visit schedule and help governors keep track.

Plan in the purpose of each visit

Link visits to the school improvement plan (SIP) so governors are directly supporting the school's plans for improvement. You'll find everything you need to help you with this, including a template visit schedule, in our chair's guide to governor visits.

You could try having a designated appointment week: set a week where governors are expected to make appointments to meet with relevant members of staff (e.g. subject/faculty heads). This gives governors some control over how to schedule their visits.

3. Give each governor a responsibility

Encourage more engagement by empowering them to take ownership of monitoring their area, which should include school visits. 

Do this by linking each governor, either to:

4. Make visits easier using our resources

Share our how-to guide with your governors so they:

  • Get up to speed with different types of school visit
  • Feel ready with questions they can ask
  • Understand how to report back to the board 

5. Offer mentoring to newer governors

Pair up newer or less confident governors with those who are more experienced, to act as mentors. They'll feel more comfortable if they've had someone show them the ropes of school visits in person.

6. Organise a governor day each year

Do this mid-academic year around the spring term, but check with senior leaders to see when’s best.

The day can include:

  • A tour of the school
    • All governors, new and experienced, should go on the tour, as schools change all the time and it will give governors a chance to meet different staff
    • Depending on the size of your school you may visit every class, every year group, or every faculty
  • Staff room coffee break
    • This is so your governors can chat with staff and get a feel for what school life is like
  • Lunch with the pupils
    • Governors can queue with the children and sit with them at lunchtime, so they have the chance to chat with pupils
  • Lunchtime duty
    • Pair up a governor to a member of staff so they can see what lunchtime supervision is like 
  • Bus duty
    • Pair up a governor with a member of staff to go on bus duty
    • This tends to be a source of complaints from the local community/parents so it’s a good idea to see how your school’s system is managed

Examples of governor visit days

St Mary’s Church of England primary school in Cumbria has a governor day to monitor the school improvement plan. The day also includes governors meeting parents on playground duty in the morning.

Bernards Heath Infant and Nursery school in St Albans sets aside a whole day for governors to get involved with the school’s everyday routines.

7. Include informal visits and events in your schedule

Explain to your governors that informal visits are a great way to get known and involved in the school community, with no formal admin. It’s at these events that governors are a much-needed extra pair of hands and source of support.

Include the following as part of your visit schedule, so governors can plan to attend:

  • Listening to pupils read (primary)
  • Attending whole-school assemblies and awards assemblies or, for a link governor, subject-specific assemblies
  • Attending school productions
    • Make sure governors are available beforehand for opportunities to chat with students and the leadership team
  • Festive events, e.g. the Christmas fair
  • INSET days/focus weeks, e.g. anti-bullying week or art week
    • This might include helping children with projects in the classroom
  • Parents evening
    • Governors can walk around and talk to parents and staff
    • If you’re in a secondary school, you might want a governors' table where parents can come and chat about any concerns
    • Ask senior leaders to include a governor appointment slip in pupils' appointment forms, so that governors can be another point of contact for parents

What to do if governors still aren’t participating in school visits

Have a conversation with the governor to find out if there’s a reason they don’t visit the school.

Lack of confidence? Consider:

  • Using the buddy system so the governor doesn’t visit on their own for a while. This is so they can build confidence before going it alone
  • Making sure they have our how-to guide so they feel more prepared

Lack of time? Consider:

  • Making sure governors are aware of their right to time off work
  • Changing their link governor role if they can’t get in to monitor their subject. Give them something else to observe and monitor

If you’ve tried everything

Have a 1-to-1 meeting about whether being a governor is right for them. Explain how important visits are as part of the role, and that without visits the board can’t do its job properly.


Jackie Beard is a governance consultant and former National Leader of Governance. She also sits on an independent appeal panel for exclusions and admissions for a local authority.

Keith Clover is a national leader of governance. He chairs 2 governing bodies within a multi-academy trust and is an academy consultant for a diocese.

Jane Owens is a chair of governors at primary, secondary and special schools, and chairs a multi-academy trust board. She is a National Leader of Governance and conducts external reviews of governance across all sectors.

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