This page offers advice to clergy who become governors because of their church office.
The responsibilities of an ex-officio governor
All foundation governors are responsible for preserving and developing the church foundation of the school. They act as a link between the school and the Church encouraging working together for the benefit of the school, the parish and the local community but otherwise their duties are no more than those of other governors. The ex-officio governor is a governor because of their office and so have a dual link with the school as both governor and linked clergyperson.
All governing boards are legally required to hold at least 3 meetings per school year, but most schools also have committees or hold more governing board meetings throughout the year.
On top of this is the time for reading and considering paperwork, visiting the school in line with the visiting framework of the governing board and attending training sessions.
A clergyperson is not expected to put in any more time than other governors, as a governor. However the school will undoubtedly have other expectations of a clergyperson (eg in connection with RE, collective worship and pastoral matters), which you will need to discuss with the Headteacher.
Becoming the Chair of Governors
The Diocesan Board of Education strongly advises that the clergy member is not the Chair of Governors as this role can conflict with the pastoral role that a clergy member usually takes..
The responsibility for appointing foundation governors
The school’s Instrument of Government shows who is responsible for appointing foundation governors.
The Diocesan Board of Education appoints Foundation governors in all schools and in some schools the PCC also appoints governors. Generally all appointments are done through the local church via the ex-officio governor. Foundation governors do not need to be members of the local congregation and if no suitable candidates can be found in the local congregation then the ex-officio may approach neighbouring Church of England parishes or other Trinitarian congregations in the local area.
All nominees, whether new or continuing, must complete and submit a foundation governor application form, which will be sent from the DBE office.
If for any reason a clergyperson is unable to take up an ex-officio governorship or feels that their skills are best placed elsewhere, it is the responsibility of the archdeacon to appoint a replacement or substitute ex-officio foundation governor at a school. This situation needs to be brought to the Archdeacon's attention, via the Deputy Diocesan Director of Education as soon as possible. It is acceptable for the clergy person or the school to suggest a suitable person who is willing to fulfil this role to the Archdeacon.
The relationship with the headteacher
Key to having a successful church school is developing a good relationship with the headteacher and indeed all who work in the school. This can be built up through regular visits and offering support for the school in ways other than governance.
RE lessons and Collective Worship
A clergyperson cannot tell the school how to conduct RE lessons and collective worship as this is to do with the day-to-day running of the school. However schools will appreciate support in RE through visits to the church and in teaching aspects of Christianity. Support for worship can be done by welcoming the school to hold worship in the church, by leading worship and being involved in its planning across the year.
Financial implication of the church to the school
Contributions are always welcomed, especially to support collective worship, for Christian materials or other areas.
Governors of voluntary aided (VA) schools have to pay 10% towards capital building work and some churches support the governing board by contributing to this, however it is not a requirement.
Being a trustee for the school
An incumbent is often a trustee of the school. Trustees and governors have separate roles and responsibilities. The trustees as a board may meet infrequently, usually to consider a request from governors or LA to extend or modify the school buildings. The trustees would usually support any request to improve facilities but could request modifications to the design of a project, or proposed building materials, if they consider the proposals to be detrimental or inappropriate to their building. Although trustees could refuse proposals by the governors or the LA, they would do so with great caution and always endeavour to find a compromise.
When a school closes or transfers to a replacement site the trustees have to determine the future of the premises in accordance with legislation and guidance from the DfE and Charity Commission. DBE Officers always support this work and trustees must consult the DBE over such proposals.
The trustees’ approval is required before a school can apply for academy status.
Support from the DBE
DBE officers are available to help and support. This is provided by telephone, email, visits and training sessions. If a clergyperson has a particular query or concern regarding their role or other matters to do with the school they should contact Sue Noakes in the first instance.