Governor FAQs

What do governors do?

The National Governors’ Association (NGA) describes being a school governor as “a thinking and questioning role, not a doing role”. That means you won’t be involved directly with the day-to-day work of the school but will help to guide its strategy through governing body meetings. The sorts of things you can expect to do include:

  • Looking at data to monitor school performance and holding senior leaders to account;
  • Making sure the Harris Federation and school leadership are providing school staff with the resources and training they need to do their job well;
  • Sitting on panels to offer your support and challenge.

What is the difference between being a governor in a MAT compared to a Local Authority school?

As the Harris Federation is a multi-academy trust (MAT), its strategic direction is set by the trustees. Local governing body members then monitor its effectiveness. This means that the trustees hold more responsibility than the governing bodies. At Harris, responsibilities such as HR and finance are maintained at trust level.

What do we look for in governors?

We look for individuals who work or have experience in companies and sectors beyond the education industry. Volunteers who are passionate about education and have the motivation and enthusiasm to help our academies, can add significant value through their knowledge, expertise and network.


While they share our high expectations, our governors come from all walks of life and all backgrounds. Finance, Accounting, PR, Marketing, Public Sector and Local Government are just a few of the industries that make up a large proportion of our academy governing bodies. This diversity is a crucial component of the success of Harris, as our governors bring a wide range of perspectives into our academies.

To be a Harris governor, you need to be willing and able to dedicate some time to the role and you need to be a good team player.

What training do governors get with Harris?

Our outstanding Harris Teaching School provides a Governor Training Programme. This ensures you are trained and equipped to perform your role as a Governor.

We have expert trainers to help you with topics including understanding school budgets, curriculum, safeguarding, Ofsted, codes of practice, special educational needs (SEN) and the importance of effective data in assessment and evaluation. This means you can be sure you’re up to date with national changes in education and know what’s required to support academies in raising standards.

How long will I be a governor for?

When you are first appointed, this will be for a four-year term. You are welcome to reapply for another four-year term once this time period ends. We like to have long serving governors who work with our academies and communities over time, but we appreciate some may need to step back from their governor duties before completing this term.

What is the difference between being a governor at a primary academy and a secondary academy?

The number and age of pupils and size of budget will be different. However, the core responsibilities of a governor will be the same. For first time governors, we often suggest that you take your first appointment with a primary academy to help you settle into the responsibilities and expectations.

Can I choose which academy I want to support?

When we speak to you about a potential governor role, we will take into account the type of academy and location that is of most interest to you, or a specific academy if you have a strong preference. However, please bear in mind that there are not always vacancies at all academies, so it helps if you can be as flexible as possible so that we can consider you for the widest range of opportunities.

How much of my time will being a governor take up?

There is certainly a time commitment involved, but our governors are volunteers. We use their time carefully and respectfully.

You can expect four to five governing body meetings per year – often, but not always, these are in the evenings. Governors are expected to carry out a link visit at their academy three times a year and report on their area of the Academy Improvement Plan (AIP). You will also see first-hand how they operate and have the opportunity to speak to pupils and staff.

You will also be encouraged to attend academy events, such as parents’ evenings, school plays and sports days.

How far in advance will I find out about meeting dates and times?

All governing body meeting dates are agreed and arranged at the start of the school year (September). You should be sent an agenda one week before the meeting date.

What qualifications do I need to become a governor?

You don’t need any particular qualifications or experience – but you do need to be willing and able to dedicate some time to the role and be a good team player. Governors come from a wide range of backgrounds – they could be parents, staff or members of the local community, among many other types of people.

What sort of difference can I make as a governor?

You are likely to be involved with important academy projects during your term, where governor support is invaluable. You will also play a vital role in helping our academies in making rapid improvement, which leads to improved Ofsted results and, most importantly, improved outcomes for the children and young people in our academies.

Who should I choose as a referee?

We request references for all our governors. These would be the referees you should choose if you were applying for a new job – normally, your current and second most recent employer. Please note that we will also carry out an enhanced DBS check before you are appointed as governor.

What happens if I disagree with other governors about a decision?

If a decision does not have the unanimous backing of the governing body, you will be asked to vote on the issue. Governors are expected to publicly support the final decisions of the AGB, even if they disagree.