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Be a governor 

We're looking for volunteers to join our governing body.

Being a school governor is a challenging but hugely rewarding role. It will give you the chance to make a real difference to young people, give something back to your local community and use and develop your skills in a board-level environment.

Governors are the largest volunteer force in the country: there are over a quarter of a million people governing state funded schools in England, most of whom started being a governor initially with no experience!

Schools need governing bodies that have a balance and diversity of knowledge, skills and experience to enable it to be effective.

Click on the questions below to learn about becoming a governor.

Who can become a school governor? 

Contrary to what many people think, you don’t have to be a parent, or connected to our schools in some way to be a governor. Anyone aged 18 or over can be a governor (there are some exceptions) and there is no requirement for you to have an understanding of the education system - just the necessary skills, character and time to contribute. There is plenty of training available to help you learn about education.

For us, the main advantage of having you join our governing body is the expertise and experience you can bring to the role. This may be your knowledge of finance, human resources, legal, marketing and public relations, property and estates management, organisational change, data analysis or education. The knowledge and skills you already have is what we value on our governing body and is what will greatly improve our effectiveness and have a positive impact on the education of our pupils.

As a governor, you will be able to:

  • use your own experience of education and life beyond school to inform conversations
  • develop and utilise your skills in a board-level environment
  • make a valuable contribution to education and your community
  • support and challenge the Federation so that it improves for pupils and staff
  • bring your unique experiences, perspectives and insights in to decision-making in the interests of our school communities

What do governors do?

Governing bodies provide strategic leadership and accountability in schools. As a Federation Governing Body, we have strategic oversight of both schools in the Federation; we are made up of 16 governors from a variety of backgrounds.

The governing body is responsible for:

  • ensuring there is clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
  • holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils and the performance management of staff
  • overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent
  • ensuring the voices of stakeholders are heard

We are passionate about education and committed to continuous school improvement to ensure the best possible outcomes for our pupils.

Governors set the aims and objectives for our schools and set the policies and targets for achieving those aims and objectives. They monitor and evaluate the progress our schools are making and act as a source of challenge and support to the executive headteacher.

In action, this means:

  • Appointing and performance reviewing the executive headteacher and heads of school, including making decisions about pay
  • Managing budgets and deciding how money is spent
  • Engaging with pupils, staff, parents and our school communities
  • Sitting on panels and making decisions on sensitive areas such as pupil exclusions and staff disciplinary
  • Addressing a range of education issues within our schools including disadvantaged pupils, pupils with special needs, staff workload and teacher recruitment
  • Looking at data and evidence to ask questions and have challenging conversations about our schools.

Governor role description 

What will be expected of you?

The average time commitment is sixteen hours per school term, although it will vary depending on your role. This includes meetings (generally in the evening), background reading and occasional school visits during the day. As well as full governing board meetings, we have two main committees and link governor roles.

Like magistrates or members of a jury, school governors have a right to reasonable time off work for their public duties, although this may be unpaid. Your company’s HR department will be able to tell you about its policy (often called Corporate Social Responsibility) and how they encourage volunteering among their employees.

The term of office for our governors is four years. Many people choose to serve multiple terms, however as a volunteer you can resign before your term is finished if your circumstances change.

Each individual governor is a member of a governing body, which is established in law as a corporate body. Individual governors may not act independently of the rest of the governing board; decisions are the joint responsibility of the governing board. 

Governance is a voluntary role and therefore it is not paid. We have a Governor Allowances Policy, which ensures that governors can receive out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of fulfilling their role as governor. Payments can cover incidental expenses, such as travel and dependency care, but not loss of earnings.

Governors not only make a difference to our schools, but also gain much personal and professional satisfaction from the role.

What can we offer you?

Governors not only make a difference to our schools, but also gain much personal and professional satisfaction from the role.

If you join Castle Federation as a governor, we can offer you experience of leadership in primary state education.  It's great work experience for your CV (provided you’re over 18) and provides a board-level opportunity that people may not encounter in their normal career paths for a long time.

You will work in a team that is ambitious and sets high expectations. You will have the opportunity to develop new skills while in the role including: 

  • 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
  • High-level decision making

Joining Castle Federation as a school governor is also a great way to ‘give back’ to the local Berkhamsted community, by helping our schools become an essential part of our town and by positively influencing the success of future generations.

What training and support is available?

There is no requirement for you to have any specific training before you become a governor. We have our own induction programme to help you get up to speed, and follow the Herts for Learning GREAT development pathway for governors.

We also assess annually the range of skills we have on the board, and identify new training and development opportunities for individuals and the group. We assign new governors a more experienced ‘buddy’ and signpost you to training and support opportunities.

Over time, this training and experience will enable you to develop your skills – personally and professionally.

Ready to get involved? What happens next?

Have a conversation with us! We can arrange for you to have a chat with an existing governor, hear why they were initially interested, how they came to be involved, what training and support they’ve received and what they’ve done to make a difference.

You can find out more about being a governor here:

You may be interested in observing a governing body meeting, or putting yourself forward as an Associate Member of our governing body. (Associate Members are not full governors and would enable you to ‘try before you buy’!) These are opportunities for us to ensure you are right for our governing body and for you to decide that we are right for you – helping us all make an informed decision.

We will take up references (so be prepared to provide these) and carry out an enhanced DBS check before confirming our decision to appoint you. You will need to complete a declaration of interests to declare any conflicts of interest you will have including conflicts of loyalty and financial interests – this information must be published by law by Castle Federation on its website.

Thank you for your interest!

School governors make a significant contribution to children’s education, opportunities and futures.

We hope that you might be interested in becoming a governor.

We encourage interest from all members of society, regardless of background, gender, ethnicity, disability or age (as long as you're over 18). We particularly welcome people:

  • from a black, or Asian or ethnic minority background
  • at either ends of their careers (eg recently retired, and people under 30)
  • who regularly attend a Church of England church, and may be suitable Foundation Governors (a type of governor, appointed by a church community or the St Albans Diocesan Board of Education, to support and promote our Christian foundation

Don’t assume there'll be a better candidate: you could be just the person we’re looking for! We’re happy to talk with anyone, or arrange a visit to our schools. If you’d like to find out more please contact either of our schools.