Welsh Government Complaints procedures for School Governing Bodies

Complaints procedures for School Governing Bodies in Wales

  1. What is a governor?
  2. What are the different categories of governor that make up a governing body?
  3. How long can a governor serve on a governing body?
  4. Can a governor take time off work because he/she is a governor?
  5. Can I be paid for being a governor?
  6. What is an instrument of government?
  7. Are the Minutes of governing body meetings confidential?
  8. How do I go about placing an item on the agenda for a future governing body meeting?
  9. How much notice do you need to give before the meeting?
  10. Can anyone attend a governing body meeting?
  11. What is the quorum for governing body meetings?
  12. Is the governing body obliged to automatically supply a copy of minutes of its meetings to its LEA?
  13. Should a clerk be appointed to every committee of the governing body?
  14. Do governing bodies have to hold an annual parents meeting?
  15. Do governing bodies have to produce an annual report to parents?
  16. If a governor has missed meetings for a continuous period of 6 months, although apologies have always been sent to the clerk in advance, can they be disqualified?
  17. How are LEA governors appointed?
  18. If you are a parent governor and your child leaves the school during your term of office, can you remain as a parent governor?
  19. Are teacher or staff governors eligible to stand for the position of Chair of the governing body?
  20. Is it a requirement that governors attend training sessions?
  21. I am a new clerk and not sure how the agenda should be organised?
  22. Can a Deputy Head regularly attend governing body meetings and take part in proceedings?

What is a governor?

A governor is someone who:-

  • is a volunteer;
  • cares about teaching, learning and children;
  • represents those people with a key interest in the school, including parents, staff, the local community and the LEA;
  • is part of a team which accepts responsibility for everything a school does;
  • has time to commit to meetings and other occasions when needed;
  • is willing to learn;
  • is able to act as a friend who supports the school but is still able to cast a critical eye upon how the school works and the standard it achieves;
  • acts as a link between parents, the local community, the LEA and the school.

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What are the different categories of governor that make up a governing body?

All governing bodies have a core group of governors consisting of:

  • parent governors;
  • teacher governors;
  • staff governors;
  • LEA governors;
  • the Headteacher (acting in the capacity of a governor where this is his/her choice);

Governing bodies will also consist of some of the following governors, depending on the type of school:

  • community governors;
  • additional community governors;
  • representative governors;
  • foundation governors;
  • Partnership governors;
  • sponsor governors

In addition, secondary schools will have associate pupil governors.

Further information about the different categories of governor can be found in the Governors Handbook, which can be accessed in the Download section on this page. Copies of the handbook will be distributed to governors in September/October.

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How long can a governor serve on a governing body?

The term of office for a governor is 4 years unless of course you are disqualified during this time. Once your term of office ends, you may be re-appointed or re-elected by the relevant body, back on to the governing body, subject of course, to the correct procedures being followed. You may resign at any time if you so wish.

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Can a governor take time off work because he/she is a governor?

The Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees the right to have time off to perform official duties, as long as 'time off' is reasonable in the particular circumstances. If a governor is in employment, they should clarify with their employer the conditions for releasing employees from work and whether this would be with or without pay.

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Can I be paid for being a governor?

No, although schools may pay expenses in addition to travel and subsistence. The funds for payment of expenses, etc, come from the school's delegated budget and must be shown in the annual report to parents. For further information, please refer to The Governors Allowances (Wales) Regulations 2005 and School Governors Guide to the Law.

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What is an instrument of government?

An instrument of government is a legal document which sets out the exact size and composition of the governing body.

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Are the Minutes of governing body meetings confidential?

The governing body must ensure that the agenda, approved draft minutes, signed minutes of meetings and any report or paper considered should be available for inspection at the school by any interested person. However, any item deemed confidential by the governing body, or items relating to a named pupil or member of staff would not be included.

Minutes are usually in two parts and the confidential items are in the second part. When the confidential part of the agenda is reached all non-governors, apart from the clerk and the Headteacher (if not a governor) should be asked to leave the meeting (as determined by the governing body). It is important however, to note that even the confidential part of the minutes must be made available if requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, although information will have to be blanked out to meet requirements in the Data Protection Act.

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How do I go about placing an item on the agenda for a future governing body meeting?

It is usual practice for a member of the governing body to ask the Chair to place an item on the agenda, provided adequate notice is given.

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How much notice do you need to give before the meeting?

The Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005 state that written notice of the meeting should be given "at least five clear working days in advance" of the meeting.

The notice of meeting should include an Agenda, minutes of the last meeting, any reports and any other papers to be considered.

Too many tabled documents reduces the ability of the governing body to make an informed judgement.

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Can anyone attend a governing body meeting?

It is up to the governing body to decide whether anyone who is not a governor can attend any meeting of the governing body, although they would be there as a visitor or observer and not take part in discussions or debate, unless asked.

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What is the quorum for governing body meetings?

The quorum for a meeting of the governing body is one half (rounded up to a whole number) of the governing body membership, excluding any vacancies.

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Is the governing body obliged to automatically supply a copy of minutes of its meetings to its LEA?

No, it is for the LEA to request a copy of the minutes

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Should a clerk be appointed to every committee of the governing body?

No, it is only necessary for the statutory committees.

A governing body may however, appoint a clerk to any other committee established by it.

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Do governing bodies have to hold an annual parents meeting?

The governing body must by law, write a report to and hold a meeting with parents once a year. However, if the school is established in a hospital or is a maintained boarding school where 50% or more of the pupils are boarders, the governing body can decide that it is not practical to hold an annual parents meeting. There are also other exemptions to the requirement to hold an annual parents meeting which apply for one year only, for example:

  1. if a parents' meeting has been held after a school inspection, to discuss the inspector's report prior to the governing body producing its action plan:
  2. if the governing body has held a meeting or meetings where all parents have been invited and which has been attended by three or more governors;
  3. if fewer than 5% of parents respond to a notice sent out accompanying the annual report asking parents if they wish the governing body to hold the annual meeting. Further information can be found in The Annual Parents' Meeting (Exemptions) (Wales) Regulations 2005. 

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Do governing bodies have to produce an annual report to parents?

Yes, it is a statutory requirement. Governing bodies must produce a full annual report, although it is not necessary to distribute the full report. Governing bodies may if they wish, distribute a summary report containing the required information, together with details of how the full report can be requested if required.

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If a governor has missed meetings for a continuous period of 6 months, although apologies have always been sent to the clerk in advance, can they be disqualified?

No, provided that the governing body has consented to the non-attendance by accepting the apologies, and this is recorded in the minutes.

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How are LEA governors appointed?

The LEA is responsible for appointing LEA governors. LEAs should publish the process and criteria for identifying candidates for appointment as LEA governors. The LEA is also responsible for removing LEAgovernors if considered necessary.

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If you are a parent governor and your child leaves the school during your term of office, can you remain as a parent governor?

Yes, you can continue to serve as a parent governor, until the end of your four year term of office, even if your child leaves the school during this time.

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Are teacher or staff governors eligible to stand for the position of Chair of the governing body?

No, teacher or staff governors cannot become Chair or Vice-Chair of the governing body or Chair of a Committee.

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Is it a requirement that governors attend training sessions?

Training provided by LEAs and Diocesan authorities is free of charge and is not compulsory to attend. However, it is highly recommended regardless of whether you are a new or experienced governor. Training will assist you with the roles and responsibilities of the governing body and will certainly help you in carrying out your role more effectively. LEA training programmes can be accessed on the training section on this website.

New governors should be encouraged to attend induction training offered by the LEA.

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I am a new clerk and not sure how the agenda should be organised?

There are different ways of doing this and there is no right or wrong approach. The main thing is to try and ensure that the agenda reflects the GB's key role in raising standards/achieving school improvement. The creation of a basic or core agenda which makes sure that those matters which always need to be covered are addressed can be useful and save time.

Here is an example of how an agenda might be organised. Other examples can be found in the Handbook for Governors of Schools in Wales, pages 39–49.

  1. Apologies for absence
  2. Minutes of the last meeting
  3. Matter Arising
  4. School Improvement Issues 
    * Headteacher's report
    * Working Party reports
    * Chair's Report
    * Link Governors' Reports
    * Attendance
  5. Staffing Matters 
    * New Appointments 
    * Other
  6. GB Matters
  7. Procedural Issues
  8. For information
  9. Any other urgent business (the chairperson to allow items to be discussed or to defer to next meeting if further research etc, needed)
  10. Items deemed to be confidential
  11. Date and time of next meeting

Governing bodies, who do not purchase the services of the LEA, will be forwarded items for inclusion on the Agenda every Term.

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Can a Deputy Head, who is not a Governor, regularly attend governing body meetings and take part in proceedings?

The Government of Maintained Schools (Wales) Regulations 2005 (Reg 44) state that the following persons are entitled to attend any meeting of the governing body (subject to any restrictions on persons taking part in the proceedings as noted in Regulation 63 and Schedule 7) –

  • subject to regulation 49, a governor;
  • the head teacher of the school, whether or not he is a governor;
  • the clerk to the governing body; and
  • such other persons as the governing body may determine.

From this it is clear that the Deputy Head should be invited to attend by the governing body and should not attend otherwise – they would be there as a visitor or observer and not take part in discussions or debate, unless asked.

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Key Roles and Responsibilities of Governing Bodies

The purpose of Governance is to help provide the best possible education for learners. School governors are a team of people who work closely with the Headteacher to make key decisions that directly affect the education and well-being of the children. Individual governors contribute to the work of the governing body in raising standards of achievement.

The powers and duties of a governing body include:

  • Providing a strategic view – setting the framework within which the head and staff run the school; setting aims and objectives, agreeing policies, targets and priorities for achieving these objectives; monitoring and evaluating
  • Acting as a critical friend – provide support and challenge to the headteacher and staff, seeking information and clarification
  • Ensuring accountability – explaining the decisions and actions of the governing body to anyone who has a legitimate interest

The execution of these powers and duties are critical to the successful running of a school and being a school governor is an important position.

What is expected of a Governor?

Education is all about continually changing things for the better and as governors you play a very important part in bringing about those changes. You don’t need any formal qualifications – schools need volunteers with a wealth of life experiences.

To be a governor, you must:

  • be willing and able to prepare for meetings
  • be able to attend meetings: the governing body must meet at least once a term, but you will probably be asked to serve on more than one committee. How often this meets will vary, but it is not unusual for one committee to meet each half- term
  • be available for meetings which will be during the early evening mainly or during the day
  • have the time to prepare and participate. If you cannot prepare for, and attend, meetings, you will not be able to help the school effectively
  • take an active part in meetings and question the Headteacher appropriately to ensure the strategic running of the School
  • monitor and evaluate the schools performance, providing constructive and supportive challenge to the Headteacher and school leadership/management team

Term of Office

All governors serve for a term of four years from the time of their election or appointment, but may resign at any time by giving written notice to the Clerk of the governing body. A governor may be re-elected or re-appointed for a further term. However, parent governors should be aware that they can only stand for re-election or re-appointment if they are a parent of a registered pupil at the school. The Local Authority requests particular Governors to be DBS checked in line with their policy.

Time off from Work

Under employment law, employers must give employees who are school governors "reasonable time off" to carry out their duties. The employee and employer have to agree on what is reasonable time off.

Don’t worry or be overwhelmed; the support and training provided will give you the understanding and confidence to play your part in ensuing that our schools always strive to provide our children with the best education possible.