How to encourage parents to become governors

The Key
The Key
If you're in a maintained school or single academy trust, you must elect at least 2 parent governors or trustees. We spoke to Governors for Schools to get some tips on putting together an advert that appeals to parents and encourages them to stand for election to your governing board.

Explain what the role involves and who can apply

You should create an advert that sets out:

  • Who can apply (check the eligibility requirements in our articles for maintained schools and academies)
  • The role and functions of the governing board
  • The expectations of new governors, particularly regarding their attendance at meetings and membership of committees
  • The skills and experience that you want new governors to have, based on your board’s self-evaluation
  • What training and development opportunities there will be

Highlight the benefits

Explain that school governance allows you to develop your skills, both personally and professionally, and that parent governors could add the following skills and experience to their CV:

  • Strategic planning
  • Experience on a board
  • Holding senior leaders to account
  • Finance, and maintaining oversight of potentially multi-million pound budgets
  • Human resources and performance management
  • Project management
  • Marketing
  • Communication and teamwork
  • Decision making

In addition, you should explain that they’ll get to see things from the school’s perspective and see how the school is managed. They’ll also gain an in-depth understanding of how decisions are made and the pressures on school leaders, while playing an integral part in deciding what happens.

Encourage a wide range of people to apply

If your board has historically lacked diversity or not represented the school community accurately, you can’t require applicants to be from certain backgrounds or put quotas in place, but you can make it clear that you want a wide range of people to apply. Use a sentence like:

“We encourage applications from all members of society, regardless of background, gender, ethnicity, disability or age (as long as you’re over 18).”

Publicise your vacancy in the right places

To publicise the vacancy more and increase your chances of reaching more potential applicants:

  • Create a poster and put it up on the school noticeboard
  • Put the advert in the school newsletter, or send it via the school’s parent communications system
  • Create a page for the advert on the school website
  • Post it on the school’s social media profiles, for example Twitter or Facebook
  • Create a flyer and hand it out at the school gate or at events like parents evenings, school fairs or sports days
  • Tap your ‘friends of the school’ society or PTA for interest (you may prefer to keep these separate, but if you’re struggling for interest, use this already-engaged group of parents)

Host an open evening to explain what the role involves. As an extra step, our governance expert Jackie Beard advised you to run an information evening after school one day where the chair and vice chair set out:

  • What school governance involves
  • The time commitment required
  • The make-up of the governing board
  • What parent governors are required to do, and not do (e.g. they hold the headteacher to account, but do not have to ‘represent’ the views of the parent body)

You could also allow parents to shadow a governing board meeting or training session so they can see what actually goes on.

Members of The Key for School Governors have access to a range of resources on governor recruitment and a range of other subjects at www.thekeysupport.com/gov

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