Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Staff School Governors Research

Staff governors

Teachers and leadership team members who were School governors made a mixed contribution to the governing of the schools we studied. However, the contribution was typically beneficial. Even when they attended meetings as observers, members of staff could make a significant contribution.

There was also evidence where over involvement could lead to weak governance

One governing body in the Hidden Givers study were clear that staff governors “provided knowledge and insights that many of the governors lacked” (Headteacher).

A similar view was voiced by the Chairs of Governors and headteachers of two other schools.

The status of the staff governor was of interest in relation to membership and activity of teacher unions. The staff governor at one School was not a union member although she felt that the school had a strong National Union of Teachers (NUT). However, the NUT played no part in selecting her as staff governor. At another school, the staff governor was clear that she was “representative of the staff and was not the staff representative”.

Many schools did not need to hold elections for staff governors. Potential staff governors had to be persuaded to take on the responsibility.

• The staff governor of one governing body had held the post for a very long period largely because no other member of staff wanted to take on the responsibility. She was very active in the school, organising a number of formal and informal activities. This staff governor had agreed to join the governing body in the absence of other volunteers.

•Another School did not hold elections for staff governors; appropriate members of staff were asked if they would like to undertake the responsibility.

•At another School the staff governor was “appointed in essence by the headteacher” • The staff governor had taken up the responsibility because he “felt it would help his career progression”.

In one of the meetings the researchers observed, the interactions were unusually antagonistic.In this instance, the staff governors appeared to take up a ‘defensive-aggressive’ stance in relation to the lay governors especially in the face of particularly challenging questions of which there were a number. There were other instances however where staff governors helped to ‘bridge a gap’ between the staff and the lay members.

This gap was reported by one Chair of Governors as a potential problem. At one School, the headteacher was dynamic, much liked and respected. There was evidence that the teacher on the governing body did not step up to her governing role. She “was somewhat in awe of the headteacher”, as indeed were the other members of the governing body.

This research was taken from The full 'Hidden Givers' A study of School Governing bodies which can be found linked below.



  1. In my experience it is hard for staff governors to speak up if they disagree with the Headteacher, who is after all, their boss!

  2. I agree, staff governors are often pull in a difficult position. Many draw short straws to join the governing body in the first place or see it as a career path to headship. Personally I value the input of staff governors and a good chair will encourage them to speak their mind without glaring looks from the HT.

  3. I have just found out that the staff governor who is also a Teaching Assistant was simply given the role again when her normal term of office expired after 4 years. No attempt was made by the Head to invite other applications to contend the position. The TA population had changed dranatically since her first appointment, with an increase in TA staff. She is known to have the ear of the Head and will go straight to him for petty complaints instead of following procedures. She is also well known as a source of 'information' for the Head on comments or actions of the staff.
    Is her position as staff governor actually null and void because she was not re-elected as such, and how does that reflect on the Head?