The Role of Chair & Vice-Chair

The chair of the governing or trust board plays a vital role in the work of the board. A good chair increases the effectiveness of the team so that it can play a full role in the leadership of the school or academies. 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 board are elected in accordance with the governing or trust 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 is not limited and should be noted within the board’s own agreed procedures. If the position of chair becomes vacant during the academic year an election must be held at the next meeting of the board. If the 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 board meeting.

It is important to remember that governors who are employed to work at the school are not able to chair a board meeting in order to reduce possible conflicts of interest.

What is the role of the chair of the board?

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 executive leader to establish a constructive relationship and provide appropriate challenge and support.
  • Assist governors or trustees to work as a team and develop their skills.
  • Co-ordinate the board’s role in Ofsted inspections.
  • Work in partnership with the local authority, diocese or trust by attending relevant briefings and events.
  • Ensure that the board operates strategically in raising achievement and driving forward school improvement.
  • Get to know their school or academies, 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 executive leader.
  • 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 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 vice-chair of the board ?

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

An effective vice-chair should:

  • Take on responsibilities delegated to them by the chair and deputise for them in their absence.
  • Work closely with the chair of the board 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 or academies, 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 Governance Services Team understand the importance of the chair’s role in driving school improvement and therefore provide training sessions and termly briefings to assist them in their role.

The Chairs’ 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.