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More than 500 people in Darlington and 300,000 people across the UK are school governors - the largest voluntary group in the country.

What do governors do?

Governors support and challenge headteachers by gathering views, asking questions and deciding what is best for the school. They normally serve for a term of office lasting four years.

The work of governors covers three main roles:

  • ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school
  • holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
  • overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent

Governing bodies sometimes have to make difficult decisions about individual pupils or members of staff, but governors are never expected to work without help and support from others, both from inside the school and out.

Who can be a school governor?

You must be 18 or over - but you do not need any special qualifications, or to be a parent or staff at the school. Interest, enthusiasm, commitment and fresh ideas are more important!

You need to be able to devote time to attend meetings and to read papers. The full governing body meets at least once a term, sometimes twice.

You would probably also sit on one or two committees dealing with matters relating to finance and premises or staffing and curriculum. Governors can also have responsibility for working alongside staff on how literacy or numeracy can be improved at the school.

The law requires employers to allow employees who hold certain public positions reasonable time off to perform the associated duties (although there is no obligation on an employer to make payment for time off).

To ensure that governing bodies operate within the law, there are a number of criteria preventing certain persons being appointed as a governor and identity and background checks are carried out to confirm eligibility.

If you are interested in becoming a school governor at a specific school you should contact the school direct or, if you wish, we can forward your contact details and a brief summary of the skills you can contribute to the local schools who may contact you if they have a vacancy. Alternatively you can apply at the .gov website [external link].


Training for governors is ongoing, with many schools and governing bodies ensuring that courses are run to develop governors, introduce them to their new roles and help them understand any specialist areas.

Each school year we run a comprehensive range of training courses, offering guidance, support, information on topical issues and important skills development to help you in your role as a governor. Courses are held at a central venue and time to suit the majority of governors. There are also are online and distance learning options available.

Governor training programme 2023 - 2024 [pdf document]

Training course information

Advice and support for new governors is available from schools and the Department for Education at [external link].

National Governors Association [external link]

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