Statutory duties for school governors

The three core functions of a governing body as indicated in Ofsted's inspection criteria are:

  • setting a strategic direction for the school
  • creating robust accountability
  • ensuring financial probity.     

Governing bodies have a duty to ensure that key policies have been approved and reviewed on a regular basis. The key policies can be found in the Department for Education (DfE) list of statutory policies

As a key reference tool you can also use the DfE Governance handbook.


View the COVID-19 guidance for school governors and training programme.

Safeguarding and child protection

Governing bodies are responsible for safeguarding children and child protection. Their responsibilities are outlined in the DfE guidance - keeping children safe in education.

In addition all local councils have a Local Safeguarding Board (LSCB) with an independent chair and a governor member. The LSCB is an independent statutory body who has responsibility to ensure people work together to keep children and young people safe. This is implemented through the provision of training, policies and guidance, and learning. The LSCB brings together the voluntary sector, education, health, social care, services who work with adults, probation, police and housing.  For more information, visit the Harrow LSCB website.


Governing bodies have a strategic responsibility for the progress of pupils in schools and ensuring that all pupils receive the best possible education. Governors monitor and evaluate performance through analysing data. For more information view Understanding your data: a guide for school governors and academy trustees.

In addition governing bodies can monitor and evaluate performance through the information that Headteachers present in a regular report.  Headteachers may wish to base their report on the London Co-ordinators of Governor Services (LCOGs) - Headteachers report template.

Monitoring and evaluation can also be carried out by governors when they ask key questions. The key questions to be asked by governors are known as the 20 key questions.   

Financial probity

Governing bodies ae required to ensure that financial resources are spent and managed effectively. The framework for monitoring this is through the Schools Financial Value Standards (SVFS). It is the responsibility of the governing body to ensure that schools meet the SFVS Framework.

In addition governing bodies are responsible for monitoring how schools spend the Pupil Premium. In particular they will determine if the funds are allocated to disadvantaged pupils to secure educational achievement. For further information refer to the Pupil Premium guidance.


There is an expectation that governing bodies delegate the majority of functions relating to staff employment to the Headteacher.

The governing body has a strategic responsibility for:

An overview of the core functions and the direction of national policy for school governance can be found in the Wellcome Trust pilot for governance.