Governor's frequently asked questions

Here are our most commonly asked questions. If you can't find the answer to your question contact Governance on 01438 843082 or governance@hertsforlearning.co.uk

Changing the name of your school

Governors contemplating changing the name of their school* need to be aware that there is more to it than just agreeing a change at a governing board meeting; though that is the indispensable first step!

A school's official name is the one recorded on the Instrument of Government and so to change the name requires a new Instrument to be drawn up and issued.

A proposal to change a school name must be determined by a unanimous vote of the governing board - including any governors not at the meeting. A governor who is unable to be present when the vote is taken will be able to vote by proxy. The proxy must be a governor or associate member whose appointment as a proxy is in writing and signed by the governor unable to attend. This is the only occasion where a proxy vote can be accepted.

The clerk then needs to notify Governance of the desired new name. Governance informs Planning so consultation can take place with the local County Councillor, the emergency services, Royal Mail, etc.

In due course, if there are no objections, a new Instrument of Government will be issued by the County Secretary. The
name of the school formally changes on the day that the Instrument comes into effect.

* This includes even minor changes (e.g. adding 'and Nursery' or replacing 'JMI' with 'Primary').

Committee terms of reference

These terms of reference are applicable whatever committee structure the governing board has adopted.

Election of Governors (Parents and Staff)

These procedures for the election of parents and staff governors apply to all Community and Controlled schools
in Hertfordshire.

In Aided and Foundation Schools the governing board is responsible for determining the procedure to be followed but may adopt that for Community and Controlled schools if it wishes. The information includes the procedures which must be followed, model letters and associated documentation.

Can a parent governor choose to continue for a further 4 year term?

Q. A parent governor's term is coming to an end and they have expressed an interest to remain on the governing board for a further 4-year term.  Can the governing board just re-elect them?

A. No, an election must be held so every parent/carer has opportunity to stand for nomination.  Parents elect, not the governing board. (note: this also applies to staff governor vacancies, although staff elect).

Can we hold off inviting nominations?

Q. A parent governor's term ends on 30th June, can we wait to run elections in the new academic year when we have new parents on board?

A. This is considered a good approach as it will attract new parents, and likely to get more interest.


Exceeding the word limit on a personal statement?

Q. A statement has been returned with more than the requested 80 words.  Can we remove the additional words?

A. Providing your letter seeking statements includes 'words exceeding 80 will be deleted', you can delete any in excess.

No one stood for the position of parent governor, what should we do now?

Q. We ran parent election but no-one stood.  What do we do?

A. If unsuccessful the governing board can appoint (in this order):

  • a parent of a registered pupil at the school
  • a parent of a former pupil at the school
  • a parent of a child of, or under, compulsory school age (with SEN for which the school is approved)
  • a parent with experience of education a child with SEN

(items in bold relate to Community/Foundation Special Schools)

Parent Governors child or children have left the school?

Q. Our current parent governor's children have now left the school, can they see their term out?

A. Yes they can complete their term but will not be eligible to stand for election in the next round.

Personal statements exceeding the 80 word limit have been sent, what should I do?

Q. Four parent/staff statements were sent out with voting papers and one of the statements had 93 words (13 over).  That parent/staff received the highest number of votes and was elected, however two of the other parents/staff have since complained an unfair process was applied as the elected parent/staff statement is longer.  What should I do?

A. If the statement 'no more than 80 words' was in the letter inviting parents/staff to stand, it is recommended the election is re-run.

What if a parent also works at the school?

Q. A parent works at the school but has stood for the parent governor vacancy - is she eligible?

A. If the person works at the school for more than 500 hours in any consecutive 12-month period (at the time of election of appointment), or is an elected member of the local authority, they are disqualified from election or appointment.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

CDM Regulations 2015

Who has revised the CDM Regulations and why?


The regulations have been revised by the Health & Safety Executive and takes account of the need to ensure that no-one is harmed during any construction work and that buildings are safe to use and maintain.  This includes strict compliance requirements to be undertaken at various stages of a building project of any finance value, and planned maintenance works and any construction work.

How do we as a Governing Board ensure compliancy?

Compliancy should be in place through the Health and Safety policy* which in turn ensures monitoring of the H&S management systems, and adheres to CDM if relevant. Governing Boards of Roman Catholic schools are required (instruction of the Westminster Diocese not a legal requirement) to sign an understanding annually at the beginning of each academic year (ideally September)  and a signed copy maintained at the school.

*Herts County Council has updated the H&S policy (September 2016) which contains a summary of changes on page 4. The model policy can be downloaded on Herts Grid for Learning (public access not permitted - access via school network only)   

Does the form have to be presented at FGB for signing off? (Roman Catholic Schools only) 

The form can be presented at the committee overseeing premises, or the full governing board. The minutes of the meeting where the form is signed off should reflect the action.

Eligibility to be Chair of Governors or Chair of Committee

Who is eligible to stand for election of Chair of Governors, and Chair of Committees?

In terms of full governing board, staff governors (including headteacher) are not eligible to be Chair, all other categories are eligible to stand.  However, staff governors (excluding headteacher) can be Chair of a committee, although this would not be appropriate for a staff governor to Chair a committee overseeing finance or personnel.

Enhanced DBS checks on governors 

DfE statutory guidance ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ includes details on DBS checks within education

Amendments to ‘School Governance Regulations’ came into effect in March, one of which requires all schools to have an enhanced DBS check in place for governors.  Schools/governing boards must ensure new governors are made aware a check must be undertaken within 21 days of their appointment/election.

How do I arrange to get my enhanced DBS check started?

Please check with your Chair of Governors/Safeguarding Governor regarding procedure.  You will need to arrange to meet with the person at the school who processes the check to arrange a convenient time (note timeline above) and confirm what ID you need to present.

Do we have to renew DBS certificates?

Whilst we recommend these are carried out to align to an individual governor’s term of office (e.g. every 4 years) it is the decision of the governing board.

I have a standard DBS certificate/CRB certificate, will that suffice?

No, school governors must have an enhanced DBS certificate in place. 

I already have an enhanced DBS certificate as a Scout Leader.  Do I need another one for my governor role?

Another enhanced DBS is not necessary, however it is up to the governing board to decide if they will accept a current DBS in a different capacity or if a new one is required. If the current DBS is accepted, the original certificate must be presented – not a photocopy.

Why do I have to present my original certificate to the school?

The information must be added to the single central record which is maintained by the school and holds information of all staff and volunteers working with the school. This is a statutory requirement.

I sit on a local governing board within a Multi Academy Trust, am I required to have an enhanced DBS?

Yes, all governors including those on local governing boards should have an enhanced DBS certificate.

I have joined a second governing board so have a current DBS certificate. When I present it for adding the details to the single central record, do I still need to show supporting documents?

Yes, you should present the original certificate in person and also take along original photographic ID and proof of address (latter should be dated within last 3 months).

Governor panel for appeals/exclusion/complaints

Can we use governors from other governing boards to sit on such panels?

We would always recommend you use your own governors as they know the school best, however, if you don't have any 'impartial' governors we can seek other governors for appeals (staff disciplinary/grievance/admissions) or complaints. This does not apply to exclusion hearings, the panel of governors must sit on the school's governing board and cannot be borrowed from another school.

How can I find out if governors have attended training?

A training history can be sent by return. Email your request to governance@hertsforlearning.co.uk quoting your school name and school number.

Useful tip: Include "To receive an update on Governor Training" as a regular item at meetings to allow governors to report on training courses.

When arranging a hearing there is a requirement to convene the hearing within a certain number of days.  When calculating the days, are school holiday dates included in calculation?

You should check your own policy (please note there are different policies for each area) in the first instance. HCC model policies do stipulate 'school or working days', therefore you do not count such days when looking to arrange a hearing.  (e.g. Formal complaint hearing must be convened within 28 school days if the HCC model policy applies - formal complaint lodged on Monday, 3rd June must be convened by no later than Wednesday, July 10th.  However, if a Bank Holiday fell within that period, the latter date would move to Thursday, July 11th).

Governor references

We are currently recruiting to fill vacancies on our governing board. Is it a legal requirement to interview potential candidates?

First and foremost it is essential to identify the skills, knowledge and experience of current governors and identify any gaps in skills. When advertising or promoting vacancies, it is important to ensure that the role of a governor is very clear (e.g. time commitment; training etc.) and specifically highlight any particular skill(s) you are looking for. To assist with making an informed decision, an interview or detailed discussion will need to take place with prospective candidates and should include references (oral or written) to be taken as necessary and appropriate.

For more detailed information on "priorities in deciding the membership of the governing bodies", refer to updated statutory guidance "The constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools" - governing boards of maintained schools, including federations and local authorities.

Governor training FAQ's

Governors' allowances and expenses

The School Governors' Handbook sets out the procedures to be followed with regard to paying governors' allowances and expenses Section 7 (7.6).


Who is responsible for setting up an allowance/expenses scheme?

Governing boards should make provision from within their delegated budget if they anticipate expenditure.


Am I entitled to claim allowances/expenses as a governor or associate member?

There is no legal requirement for allowances/expenses to be paid, however where a governing board elects to pay allowances/expenses to governors/associate members a policy should be in place. Check with your governing board in the first instance.

What type of allowances/expenses can I claim?

Your policy, where applicable, should stipulate what is covered but can be relative to childcare, car travel, telephone charges, disability etc. It cannot be claimed to cover loss of earnings for attending meetings.

A policy for paying governor allowances and expenses is statutory, unless the governing board has elected not to pay them.

Governor's liability insurance

Do governors have to ensure the school arrange liability insurance for the governing board?

No, all Hertfordshire governors and governing boards of Local Authority schools are covered by the County Council's Corporate Liability insurance.  However, this does not apply to Academies or Free schools who are required to arrange their own insurance.

For details of cover provided please email insurance@hertfordshire.gov.uk or call 01992 555480.

Quorate meetings

How many governors should be in attendance to make a meeting quorate?

For a governing board meeting, there must be 50% (rounded up if odd number) of governors in post at a meeting to be quorum (i.e. there are 12 places on the governing board but 9 governors in post, therefore 5 must be in attendance).  For a committee, the quorum for any vote should be 3 who are members of that committee.

Self-declaration form for governors (new and re-appointed/re-elected)

Previously, governors were required to complete a ‘governor pre-appointment check’ form which is now obsolete.  In its place is a governor self-declaration form. Please ensure the form is completed and signed before handing to the school office for keeping on file. 

Note: Do not send to Safe Staffing or Governance – the enhanced DBS has replaced this form so we no longer process these checks.

What happens if no-one is prepared to be Chair?

We have election of Chair coming up but no nominations have been received. What happens if nobody stands, who leads the meeting thereafter?

In the event of no nominations, the Vice-chair will step up as Acting Chair for the remainder of the meeting. The item "To elect Chair" should be included on the agenda for the next Full Governing Board meeting. 

Governing Boards should never let this happen.  Succession Planning is a key strategic issue for all governing boards and training is available.  

When someone becomes Chair they need to consider this immediately. There are other models of chairing and leading a governing board which may need to be applied.

Both courses - "Becoming an Effective Chair" and "Succession Planning and Strategy" reflect on future school leadership and developing sound structures for the future.

Where Can I Access Information on Health and Safety?

All schools are required to have a Health and Safety Policy.

The responsibilities vary between Community, Controlled, Voluntary Aided, Foundation schools and Academies. It is important that all governing bodies are aware of legal requirements.

A range of Health and Safety information for schools is available on the Hertfordshire Grid for Learning.

What is the role of an Associate Member?

An Associate Member is not a governor so is not counted in the total number of governors constitution.  They are often appointed to bring additional skills to the GB.  The majority of Associate Members are staff members such as Deputy Heads or members of the SLT, or in some cases an external person who cannot commit to the full time role of a governor but brings a skill (e.g. finance; health and safety) which supports the governing boards effectiveness.  Associate Members do not have voting rights on the governing board, but they can be delegated voting rights on a committee which should be reflected in the terms of reference for that committee.  

What is GIAS (Getting information about schools) and who is responsible for inputting information?

GIAS is a register of educational establishments in England and Wales, maintained by the Department for Education. It provides information on establishments providing compulsory, higher and further education.  In summer 2016, schools were brought in line with academies in terms of accessing and inputting information of governing board members.  Each school will have a registered approver who will keep the information updated and this person will be on school payroll (it cannot be a clerk who is employed through other channels – e.g Herts for Learning Ltd).  The DfE website  (type ‘Getting information about schools’ in the
search engine).

 

What is the difference between a Hertfordshire Leader of Governance (HLG), National Leader of Governance (NLG) and a Strategic Leader of Governance (SLoG)?

An HLG is a local version of the NLG, the only difference is HLGs are employed by and report to Herts for Learning Ltd (Governance Services) and NLGs are selected by and report to National College for Teaching and Learning (NCTL).   In Hertfordshire, they are known as Strategic Leaders of Governance (SLoG) and ultimately they are experienced Chairs who offer a consultancy service to Chairs of governors on governance issues.  The role includes guidance and mentoring on a range of different issues and may include attending governing board meetings to give feedback.  Any new Chair has a right to a coach or a mentor via the Becoming an Effective Chair training course, offered through Governance Services.

We seem to have so many policies in place it is difficult keeping on top of them in terms of what is statutory, review dates and delegation. Where can we find information on exactly which policies we need?

There is a useful DfE Statutory Policy list which gives advice on what policies should be in place, guidance on delegation and suggested review timelines – the document can be downloaded from www.gov.uk.

 A model governor reference template can be obtained by contacting the Governance Helpdesk on 01438 843082 or emailing your request to governance@hertsforlearning.co.uk.