Developing Church of England Education

Governing Body Structure


Church school governing bodies vary in size, but the general composition does not vary much from school to school. Regulations govern the size and constitution of governing bodies and each school has an Instrument of Government which details the constitution.

A typical voluntary aided primary school governing body in the Diocese comprises the following:


 Foundation Governors   Non-Foundation Governors 
 Parochial Church Council x 4  Parent Governors x 2
 Diocesan Foundation Governors x 2       Staff Governor x 1
 Incumbent x 1  Headteacher x 1
   Local Authority Governor x 1
 Total - 7  Total - 5


Voluntary aided secondary schools usually (but not always) have a larger governing body with wider representation from the church.


 Foundation Governors   Non-Foundation Governors 
 Parochial Church Council x 2  Parent Governors x 3
 Diocesan Foundation Governors x 2       Staff Governor x 1
 Incumbent x 1  Headteacher x 1
 Deanery Governor x 2  Local Authority Governor x 1
 Other Foundation Body x 2  Co-opted Governor x 1
 Total - 9  Total - 7


Governing bodies may choose to vary their instrument of government, but must consult the Diocesan Board, trustees and foundation governors before sending their proposal to the local authority.

In 2012, new regulations provided for a slightly different model which includes co-opted governors. Any school wishing to vary their instrument of government must follow the new regulations.


The SDBE provides guidance for its schools on effective working practices for governing bodies. Model terms of reference for committees can be downloaded from the Members' Area.

Governors should decide what type of committee structure works best for them and are required to review the committees each year. The more usual model for most governing bodies is to have committees for personnel, finance, premises, curriculum, admissions and pupil discipline. This can be difficult for a small governing body to maintain, an option to reduce the number of committees by combining responsibilities has been tried and tested by several governing bodies. In determining the committee structure, governors should be aware of the work-life balance of the headteacher, both in terms of the number of meetings and the time they are held.

Foundation Governors

Foundation governors have a special responsibility for securing that the character of the school as a Church of England voluntary school is preserved and developed and that the school is conducted in accordance with the provisions of the school's Trust Deed and its ethos statement. The Trust Deed is a document which relates to the original foundation of the school, the ethos statement has statutory force and it is within this context that governors of Church of England schools carry out their responsibilities.

Ethos Statement

A copy of the ethos statement adopted by the majority of Church of England schools is reproduced below.

  • Recognising its historic foundation, the school will preserve and develop its religious character in accordance with the principles of the Church of England and in partnership with the Church at parish and Diocesan level.
  • The school aims to serve its community by providing an education of the highest quality within the context of Christian belief and practice. It encourages an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith and promotes Christian values through the experience it offers to all its pupils.

A more detailed summary of the foundation governor's role in a C of E School is given in the Board's Factsheet:

Governors' Code of Conduct

Governors accept far-reaching responsibilities and it is important to recognise that governors operate as part of a team. Many governing bodies choose to adopt a Code of Conduct so that there is clear agreement how governors should conduct themselves: