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Maintained Schools - Instrument of Government (IoG): Guidance for new clerks

Section 20 of the Education Act 2002 requires all maintained schools to have an instrument of government that determines the constitution of the governing board. This briefing note outlines some of the considerations and actions that boards must take into consideration if they want to change or amend their instrument of government. 

The key pieces of guidance can be found in 

The constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools (publishing.service.gov.uk) dated April 2017

The School Governance (Roles, Procedures and Allowances) (England) Regulations 2013

The instrument of government can be amended at any time. All IoG must contain


The minimum requirements for the membership of the governing board are:

A minimum of seven governors in total - (higher minimum in some foundation and all voluntary aided schools) – there is no maximum.

If your school is within a trust please check the Articles of Association.

The National Governance Association does not think that there is an ideal size for a governing body; it must not be so large that it is unwieldy and a barrier to good decision making, but it does need to have enough people to ensure a diversity of opinion and to carry out the tasks required.

Foundation Governors

Further clarification is available from the Local Authority Governor Services team and the legislation is here.

Changing the IoG

If the board wishes to amend or change the IoG governors should give their approval at a full governing body meeting. This is a decision that should not be taken by the Chair using powers to act.

Foundation and church schools will also need the approval of their foundation or diocese. This will be done via Governor Services.

If the governing board determines to change the IoG there are several steps that must be followed.

Confirm that changing the IoG is the best solution by:

Clarifying why the board feels they need to change the IoG – is it because they are struggling to fill vacant co-opted positions for example? It is recommended that the board seeks advice on how to fill vacancies before they seek to change the IoG.

Consider the number of governors in each category and ascertain, based on the skills audit, if a parent governor could become co-opted for example. This is quite common when parent governors reach the end of their term of office and are no longer eligible to be a parent governor.

As a clerk ensure that;

1.       The board understand the process for changing the IoG

2.       The minutes fully reflect the decision made and the changes required are clearly outlined with reasons if possible.

3.       The minutes are submitted with any email request to governor services.



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