Getting new governors up to speed quickly with an engaging induction

Date Published


Reading time

4 minutes

New governors can bring new skills and a new perspective to a school, and it’s important that they’re able to add value as quickly as possible.

Here, I set out an induction to-do list that will help them to do just that. 

It’s always an exciting time when new governors join the board. They bring fresh ideas, new skills and a new way of thinking. They challenge the status quo and question why we do what we do.

However, for new governors who aren’t from education or the public sector, the protocols and bureaucracy involved can be challenging and, if they don’t follow them, this can cause tensions and frustration for their more experienced colleagues.

In industry, when someone starts a new job, they go through an onboarding process that gives them a thorough introduction to their role and the company.

In governance, this is called the governor induction and it has to be done effectively if new governors are going to use their skills and add value to the board quickly. It’s important that they feel part of the team, aren’t made to feel inadequate due to their lack of knowledge or try to do too much too quickly without knowing enough about their role.

So, what does effective Induction look like? Well, there are various processes and it’s a good idea to give participants a checklist so they can tick off tasks as they complete them. This way, they will feel engaged in their induction and aren’t just having it ‘done to’ them.

The first task is to assign a ‘buddy’ to a new governor. This is an experienced governor who acts as the first point of contact, checking in with the new governor regularly and sitting next to them at board meetings to explain what’s happening.

Next, we start to think about legal documentation. Has the new governor seen, read and signed the code of conduct? Have they given all their documents to the school bursar so that their Disclosure and Barring Service check can be completed? Have they given information about any conflicts of interest? Have they provided their personal details so that Get Information About Schools can be completed?

Now we can consider documents about how governance works generally. The new governor should be directed to the Governance Handbook, the DfE Competency Framework for Governors and, in academies, the Academies Financial Handbook. These are easily found on Google, so it’s quite easy for the chair of governors to email links.

That brings me on to the subject of emails. With GDPR now in force, it’s very important that all governors use school email addresses, not their personal or work ones. So, the new governor needs to have a school email address created.

While I’m still on the subject of how governance works, new governors need to see terms of reference for the board and any committees. This will help them to understand what work governors carry out and what subjects they discuss. It’s also important that they sign to confirm that they’ve visited the school website and that they understand the school’s vision and values.

As far as policies are concerned, it’s imperative that new governors are at the very least familiar with Keeping Children Safe in Education and the school’s safeguarding and whistleblowers policies. They must sign to say that they’ve read and understood at least Part 2 of Keeping Children Safe in Education.

When it comes to understanding how their own school works, the chair or the buddy should provide the new governor with a list of all key staff and the staffing structure, the term dates (including inset days), the latest Ofsted report (in church schools, the latest SIAMS or S48 inspection), the last set of statutory test results, the school development plan, the self-evaluation form, the current governor’s development plan, a list of current governors with their contact details, and a list of meeting dates for the current academic year.

Finally, the new governor should have had a meeting with the headteacher and the chair of governors, plus a tour of the school.

As I said at the start, it’s good practice to formalise the induction process and keep a record, signing and dating as tasks are completed. But the important thing is that new governors feel able to use the skills for which they were elected or appointed and add value to pupils’ educational experience.

Make an Enquiry

Contact us to enquire about our services
Send us a message
Or, call us on 0333 300 1900