What do Governor's Do?

School governors and trustees are people who want to make a positive contribution to children’s education.

Governors and trustees are one of the largest volunteer forces in the country and have an important part to play in raising school standards. The role of the governing board is absolutely key to the effectiveness of a school. Time and time again Ofsted (the national inspection body for schools) has noted that the most effective schools demonstrate effective leadership and management - including by the governing board.

Strategic leadership

School governors and trustees provide strategic leadership and accountability in schools. They appoint the headteacher and deputy headteacher. In some schools the site is owned by the governing board.  It is governors who hold the main responsibility for finance in schools and it is governors who work with the headteacher to make the tough decisions about balancing resources.

Each individual governor is a member of a governing board, which is established in law as a corporate body. Individual governors may not act independently of the rest of the governing board and decisions are the joint responsibility of the governing board.

The role of the governing board is a strategic one with three key functions:

  1. Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
  2. Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils.
  3. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction

Governors and trustees set the aims and objectives for the school, set the policies for achieving those aims and objectives, set the targets for achieving those aims and objectives, monitor and evaluate the progress the school is making towards achievement of its aims and objectives and act as a source of challenge and support to the headteacher (a critical friend).

The headteacher is responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the school and the implementation of the strategic framework established by the governing board.

Activities - as part of the governing body team, a governor is expected to:

Contribute to the strategic discussions at governing body meetings which determine:

  • the vision and ethos of the school;
  • clear and ambitious strategic priorities and targets for the school;
  • that all children, including those with special educational needs, have access to a broad and balanced curriculum;
  • the school’s budget, including the expenditure of the pupil premium allocation;
  • the school’s staffing structure and key staffing policies;
  • the principles to be used by school leaders to set other school policies.

Hold the senior leaders to account by monitoring the school’s performance; this includes:

  • agreeing the outcomes from the school’s self-evaluation and ensuring they are used to inform the priorities in the school
  • development plan;
  • considering all relevant data and feedback provided on request by school leaders and external sources on all aspects of
  • school performance;
  • asking challenging questions of school leaders;
  • ensuring senior leaders have arranged for the required audits to be carried out and receiving the results of those audits;
  • ensuring senior leaders have developed the required policies and procedures and the school is operating effectively
  • according to those policies;
  • acting as a link governor on a specific issue, making relevant enquiries of the relevant staff, and reporting to the
  • governing body on the progress on the relevant school priority; and
  • listening to and reporting to the school’s stakeholders : pupils, parents, staff, and the wider community, including local employers

Ensure the school staff have the resources and support they require to do their jobs well, including the necessary expertise on business management, external advice where necessary, effective appraisal and CPD (Continuing Professional Development), and suitable premises, and that the way in which those resources are used has impact.

When required, serve on panels of governors to:

  • appoint the headteacher and other senior leaders;
  • appraise the headteacher;
  • set the headteacher’s pay and agree the pay recommendations for other staff;
  • hear the second stage of staff grievances and disciplinary matters;
  • hear appeals about pupil exclusions.

The role of governor is largely a thinking and questioning role, not a doing role.

A governor does NOT:

  • Write school policies;
  • Undertake audits of any sort – whether financial or health & safety - even if the governor has the relevant professionalexperience;
  • Spend much time with the pupils of the school – if you want to work directly with children, there are many other voluntary valuable roles within the school;
  • Fundraise – this is the role of the PTA – the governing body should consider income streams and the potential for income generation, but not carry out fundraising tasks;
  • Undertake classroom observations to make judgements on the quality of teaching – the governing body monitors the quality of teaching in the school by requiring data from the senior staff and from external sources;
  • Do the job of the school staff – if there is not enough capacity within the paid staff team to carry out the necessary tasks, the governing body need to consider and rectify this.

As you become more experienced as a governor, there are other roles you could volunteer for which would increase your degree of involvement and level of responsibility (e.g as a chair of a committee). This document does not cover the additional roles taken on by the chair, vice-chair and chairs of committees.

In order to perform this role well, a governor is expected to:

  • get to know the school, including by visiting the school occasionally during school hours, and gain a good understanding of the school’s strengths and weaknesses;
  • attend induction training and regular relevant training and development events;
  • attend meetings (full governing body meetings and committee meetings) and read all the papers before the meeting;
  • act in the best interest of all the pupils of the school; and
  • behave in a professional manner, as set down in the governing body’s code of conduct, including acting in strict confidence.

Time commitment

Under usual circumstances, you should expect to spend between 10 and 20 days a year on your

governing responsibilities.  The top end of this commitment, which equates to about half a day per week in term time, is most relevant to the chair and others with key roles, such as chairs of committees.

Initially, we would expect your commitment to be nearer 10 days a year. However, there may be periods when the time commitment may increase, for example when recruiting a headteacher. Some longstanding governors may tell you that they spend far more time than this on school business; however, it is fairly common for governors to undertake additional volunteering roles over and above governance.

Under Section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, if you are employed, then you are entitled to ‘reasonable time off’ to undertake public duties; this includes school governance. ‘Reasonable time off’ is not defined in law, and you will need to negotiate with your employer how much time you will be allowed.

Foundation Governor Documents

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Gill Donohoe

Foundation Governor




Gill has been a school governor since 2007, a parent governor at a local primary school for six years and a foundation governor at St Mary's since 2009. She is Chair of the pupil welfare committee, Nominated governor for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), Safeguarding and Child Protection governor and Training Link governor. Mum of three children, Gill has a background in finance having worked locally for an international charity for over 30 years. Currently employed by the Archdiocese of Liverpool as the Governance Adviser. Gill is a qualified swimming judge and officiates at swimming galas throughout the north west.



John Cobham

Foundation Governor


John taught construction at Preston College (formerly W. R. Tuson College) and worked at the college for 25 years 'retiring' 10 years ago as Dean of Academy of Construction & the Built Environment. After a period of 12 months or so as an education consultant John set up a Construction Training Centre in Leyland from which he eventually retired from in July 2015. Married with three grown up children, all of whom attended St Mary's Leyland John enjoys shooting, going out with his dogs, spending time with his poultry and tending to his large garden. John has been a Governor of SS Peter & Paul, Mawdesley for over 30 years & has been Chair or Vice Chair for over 20 years. He joined the governing body of St Mary's in October 2013 and was invited to become a governor on the reconstituted board.


Helen Ormrod

Foundation Governor



Helen has 20 years’ experience working in local government, including roles in building and finance, and corporate governance. She is a qualified teaching assistant but, together with her husband, set up an I.T. company 10 years ago, where she is now a Director.  She has three sons, all of whom have attended St Mary’s and is involved at a local level volunteering at St Mary’s Catholic Church.  She has a keen interest in all kinds of music and tries to play piano and the saxophone in her spare time.  Helen also enjoys gardening and playing tennis as often as possible.



Cuthbert Culshaw

Foundation Governor



Cuthbert spent 40 years working in financial services, 20 of them running his own business as an Independent Financial Adviser. He was previously a governor of a local primary school for 12 years. He is a long standing active member of the Order of the Knights of St. Columba and for 16 years was a National Director of the Federation of Small Businesses. He has been married to Susan for 44 years and they have 2 daughters, who both attended St. Mary’s Catholic High School, and 4 grandchildren.



Paul Marsden

Foundation Governor



Paul is Headteacher at Saint Bede’s Catholic High School, Lytham, having earlier gained teaching and leadership experience in a variety of schools.  A former pupil of St Mary’s, he still lives in the town with his family. Paul joined the governing body at St Mary’s in 2020, after previously serving as a governor at another secondary school in Blackpool. Away from education, Paul enjoys operating as a Referee in professional football.




Nadine Turner

Parent Governor



Nadine has been a governor for 5 years in the primary sector and was recently re-elected as a parent governor at St Mary's Catholic High School.  Nadine has a 20 years background in Regulatory Affairs working in the medical device industry for over 15 years.  As a parent of 3 children, she is often very busy transporting the children to various sporting activities!   



Andrew Wiseman

Parent Governor




Andrew joined the board of governors in 2021, in the role of Parent Governor. He has over 25 years’ experience in research and data consulting, and is co-owner of a market research company based in Manchester. A certified mental health first aider, Andrew is also a Trustee for the Counselling and Family Centre, a charity which provides support for those in need of mental health counselling. He also supports undergraduate students at the University of Leeds via its ‘Nurturing Talent Mentor Scheme’. When not at work, Andrew is a long-time season ticket holder at Bolton Wanderers Football Club.



Rachel Ryan

Local Authority



Rachel is a Global Software Asset Manager for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and has worked in IT for large corporate firms for the last 25 years.  Her experience covers many aspects of IT and management. Another role she currently holds at AstraZeneca is the Diversity lead in IT and is member of the leadership team for Network of Women in the UK. In her spare time she enjoys the sport of CrossFit/Olympic weightlifting and also walking and hiking in the Lakes. Rachel has two daughters.


Claire Corris

Staff Governor



Miss Corris has been a teacher of mathematics at St Mary’s since 2003 and has progressed up the ladder from classroom teacher to Curriculum Leader.  She has seen the school change a lot in her time here, and despite brief forays into teaching geography, RE and drama, remains passionate about encouraging the mathematical ability of all pupils for both their future studies and their everyday lives. Before passing the mantle on, she helped produce ten school productions which included training pupils in the basics of stage combat.  Away from school, she loves all things theatrical but also football and parkrun.



Phil Thompson


September 2018


Phil has worked in Catholic education for the whole of his teaching career. He began his career working in Harrogate before moving to a secondary school in Burnley. In addition to being a trained History teacher, he has also worked in pastoral roles, whilst being involved in senior management positions for 15 years. He was appointed as headteacher of St Mary's in September 2018. Phil is a Foundation governor at a local primary school near where he lives, whilst also acting as a panelist for the Teaching Regulation Agency. Married with two children, he is a long-suffering season ticket holder at Blackburn Rovers.

Meeting Attendance

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DfE Financial Transparency


St Mary's Catholic High School has one member of staff who earns between £100,000 and £110,000 per annum.

Collecting and publishing Governing Board Diversity data


The governors of St Mary’s Catholic High School, Leyland believe it is important that boards reflect the diversity of the school communities they serve. Diverse boards promote inclusive school environments and provide diverse role models for staff and young people.

The governors are currently collecting data on the diversity of the board, including data on age, gender and ethnicity. They will use that data to inform their recruitment and training needs and ensure there is always a diverse range of perspectives around the table to support robust decision making.

Due to our relatively small governing board, we will not publish this diversity data online as individual governors could be identified and we have a legal obligation to protect their personal data.