The Role of the Chair and Vice Chair

The Role of the Chair and Vice Chair

The chair of governors plays a vital role in the work of the governing board.  A good chair increases the effectiveness of the team so that it can play a full role in the leadership of the school.  An effective chair works to create a climate in which the governing board is able to take decisions at a strategic level.

The chair and vice-chair of the governing board are elected in accordance with the governing board’s agreed procedure, taking into account school governance regulations and academy articles of association. The elections usually take place at the first meeting of the academic year in the autumn term.  The period of office is normally one year but can be up to four years depending on the schools procedure.  If the position of chair becomes vacant during the school year an election must be held at the next meeting of the governing board. If the governing board would like to change the appointment procedure for the appointment of the chair or vice-chair, then full discussion and agreement should be held at a full governing board meeting.

It is important to remember that governors who are employed to work at the school are not able to chair a governing board meeting. 

What is the role of the chair of governors?

The chair’s role is varied and the following list, which is not exhaustive, demonstrates the key responsibilities and attributes required for effective chairing:

  • Work effectively with the Head Teacher to establish a constructive relationship and become a critical friend providing appropriate challenge and support.
  • Assist governors to work as a team and develop their skills.
  • Co-ordinate the governing board’s role in Ofsted inspections.
  • Work in partnership with the local authority and/or diocesan authority, foundation or religious body by attending relevant briefings and events.
  • Ensure that the governing board operates strategically in raising achievement and driving forward school improvement.
  • Get to know their school, preferably by visiting when the school is in session and the pupils are in school.
  • Keep up to date on educational matters and policy affecting schools and children.
  • Undertake relevant development and training to effectively undertake the role.
  • Construct and agree the agenda for meetings together with the clerk and head teacher/principal.
  • Plan and keep good order in meetings, including summarising discussion and moving to a decision.
  • Ensure all decisions are understood and that any necessary action is taken.
  • Be prepared to delegate and encourage other governors to participate fully.
  • Ensure that governors know and adhere to the rules and codes of conduct that keep governing boards democratic.
  • Encourage the governing board to work collaboratively with other partners/agencies to support school improvement.
  • Represent the school at public events.
  • Involve the vice-chair so that they are in a position to act if the chair is not available.

What is the role of the vice-chair of governors?

The vice-chair of governors is an important role as they deputise for the chair in their absence. They may also take on additional responsibilities.

An effective vice-chair of governors should:

  • Take on responsibilities delegated to them by the chair and deputise for them in their absence.
  • Work closely with the chair of governors to establish a constructive relationship and share responsibilities.
  • Take on a specific responsibility for example become a mentor for new governors or chair a committee.
  • Get to know their school, preferably by visiting when the school is in session and the pupils are in school.
  • Undertake relevant development and training to effectively undertake the role.
  • Represent the school at public events.

The Governor Services Team understand the importance of the chair’s role in driving school improvement and therefore provide termly briefing sessions to assist them in their role.

The briefings are held early each term in order to prepare chairs for their forthcoming governing board meetings and to equip them with the knowledge, information and advice needed to effectively undertake their role.

For more information or to book to attend a chairs’ briefing session, please visit the ‘Chairs’ Briefings’ page on this site.