Local authorities are allowed a single governor on the governing bodies of maintained schools in their area, with the intention being to provide a link between the two. While councils can nominate an individual of their choice, the final decision over whether or not to appoint a candidate rests with that school’s governing body.
Lancashire County Council is now set to establish a new “governor review panel” to assess applications for the posts.
The authority’s cabinet member for education and skills, Jayne Rear, told a recent meeting of cabinet colleagues that a revamped application form would provide “opportunities for the applicant to tell us as much about themselves as they possibly can”.
“The panel have been identified already and are good to go – and that will mean our job reverts to what it should have been – and that is to identify and encourage people from all walks of life to apply to become a governor,” County Cllr Rear added.
Under previous arrangements, applications should have been considered by a cross-party group, but papers presented to the cabinet meeting revealed that, in practice, nomination decisions were effectively being made by the lead member for schools.
According to the county council’s newly-revised governor application procedures, the authority “actively encourages applications from under-represented groups, and is committed to ensuring that all applications received will be considered equitably, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or disability”.
Governors can be appointed for terms of between one and four years, as determined by the school.
The process for a governor to apply to be reappointed after the end of their term will also be streamlined to make it “less onerous”, County Cllr Rear said.
Council leader Phillippa Williamson, who held the schools portfolio on the authority until last month, said that school governors are the “largest group of volunteers across the county”.
She added: “We owe them a great deal of thanks for all their efforts, so the easier and smoother we make the application process, the better.”
Rules drawn up by the Department for Education state that once appointed, local authority-nominated governors “must govern in the interests of the school and not represent or advocate for the political or other interests of the local authority”.