Accessibility statement

School Governance Network

Are you a school governor or trustee? Are you interested in getting involved in school governance?

School governors and trustees have the power to improve education for children. They work strategically as board members to support and challenge the school’s operational leaders.

Being a governor or trustee is a great development opportunity which we encourage colleagues from all departments and levels to get involved in. Our School Governance Network will support you with community leave, training opportunities, networking events and peer support.

What school governors do

School governors and trustees have three core functions:

  • Setting the school’s strategic direction
  • Ensuring financial probity
  • Supporting and challenging the headteacher

A strong and diverse governing board ensures robust debate, which is key to the effective running of a school.

Volunteering as a governor or trustee is a chance to develop new and existing skills, expand networks and see first-hand the difference you can make to education.

How you can help

Governing bodies need a broad range of skills to ensure they can support and challenge the school effectively. Skills and knowledge of education are important, but governing boards also need people with skills in areas including finance, data analysis, HR, and problem-solving.

You don’t need to be a parent or have previous board experience to get involved. It’s more important you are enthusiastic, committed, and want to use your skills to make a difference.

Why get involved in school governance?

Volunteering as a school governor or trustee is a rewarding role. You'll see first-hand how your work and decisions impact the lives of children in your school.

  • Make a difference in your local community, by supporting the education of children in your chosen school.
  • Enhance your CV with your voluntary experience, your commitment to the community and your own personal development as a member of a board.
  • Develop a range of professional skills, such as strategic leadership, decision making, risk management, data analysis, financial management and performance management.
  • Support the University of York’s public good mission by sharing your time and skills to support young people in our local area.

What support is available at the University?

The Access and Outreach team is eager to support our colleagues who are volunteering in the role of a school governor or trustee.

We work with schools, colleges and sixth forms to support people to understand their options and the ability to access and discover higher education.

That’s why we want to open the opportunities provided through the Access and Outreach team to you and the schools you support.

Community leave

The University grants colleagues four days of community leave to support volunteering in school governance roles. This is paid leave that can be taken in addition to your annual leave, enabling you to support your school during your usual working hours.

Find out more about the community leave policy.

Training and development opportunities

We know your role is essential to enable schools to run effectively and we know how valuable your time and support is to your school. To help you feel confident in your school governance role, we signpost training offered by our partners at the City of York Council and Governors for Schools, as well as other key providers.

Networking events

We provide regular events so you can meet other colleagues working in a similar role to you, share best practice and talk through any concerns you may have. We also offer spotlight sessions on key governance topics. 

Dedicated Slack channel

In between our networking events, you will have access to peer support when you need it, through our dedicated Slack channel.

This is a chat service used by University staff, and permits informal conversations between colleagues, whenever you want to.

You can access Slack for free as part of your University IT services, and you can even download a mobile app to keep in touch on the go, if you want to.

Buddy scheme

Being involved in school governance can sometimes be challenging, so it can be helpful to have that one-to-one support.

We organise a buddy system to pair new governance colleagues with more experienced colleagues to give you time to ask questions and learn from others.

We also aim to pair colleagues involved in Chairing roles with other colleagues in a similar role, so you can learn from each other about how to effectively lead your governing board.

Monthly school governance newsletter

We provide you with a monthly newsletter featuring all things school governance.

This may range from key policy changes, to upcoming training and events. We collate this especially for our network to ensure you are kept in the loop and never miss a thing.

Our partners

Governors for Schools

Governors for schools logo

The University of York is a proud partner of national charity Governors for Schools. They provide essential services, including placing volunteers in schools, and training for new and existing volunteers in the role of a school governor or trustee. Colleagues who apply through Governors for Schools will gain access to their comprehensive training facility, The Key, and a range of personal development tools, in addition to a wide range of placement opportunities.

City of York Council

City of York Council logo

The University of York is a proud partner of the City of York Council. They offer a traded service, providing essential training for new governors, and CPD training for existing colleagues, through a comprehensive training programme, with bespoke opportunities for colleagues involved in supporting academies or maintained schools. Their year-round training calendar features a variety of topics and includes virtual and in-person events.