It is fair to say that there is some conflicting guidance about the appointment of this category of Governors. This is the science bit from the Guide to the Law, as published in May 2012 (current January 2013):
20. Sponsor governors are appointed by the governing body. It is at the governing body’s discretion whether they choose to appoint sponsor governors or not. If the governing body wants to appoint one or more sponsor governors, it must seek nominations from the sponsor(s).
21. The sponsor can be someone who gives substantial assistance to the school, financially or in kind, or who provides services to the school. The governing body can appoint a maximum of two persons as sponsor governors, or where the school is a secondary school, up to four sponsor governors.
So what is the uncertainty? You’d be surprised!
- Does the Governing Body have to have any sponsor governors? A: No, it is an optional category.
- How many sponsor governors can a school have? A: Up to two for a primary, or four for a secondary school. (Some quoted legislation and LA guidance refers only to two sponsor governors – this is at odds with the Guide to the Law 2010.)
- Can the Governing Body choose its own sponsor governors? A: No, it must seek nominations from its sponsor organisation. (Some advice incorrectly suggests that the GB can directly appoint someone who offers financial or other assistance or who provides a service, without going through a sponsor organisation.)
- Who appoints the sponsor governor? A: The Governing Body considers the nomination that has been put forward, and then appoints – presumably if there is no objection raised to the candidate who has been put forward.
- What happens if the GB does not wish to apppoint the nominated person as a governor? A: Don’t know. (There is provision for the Governing Body to reconstitute and remove the category of Sponsor Governor from its Instrument of Government.)
- Who can be a sponsor? A: The sponsor (note, this title has nothing whatsoever to do with the sponsors of academies) can be “someone who gives substantial assistance to the school, financially or in kind, or who provides services to the school“. This description refers to the sponsor (organisation), not necessarily the sponsor governor themselves, though it is quite possible that they would also provide the kind of assistance that the sponsor organisation do. “Services to the school” is a very general brief, and could conceivably include utilities (the Gas Board?), catering, grounds maintenance, educational consultancy, ….?? “Assistance, financial or in kind” – a local firm providing sports kit? Auditing the school fund? Another school providing mentoring?
- What kind of people or organisations can be the sponsor? A: Examples include a local supermarket, a bank, another school, a play group, a solicitor, a financial adviser, a building firm, the National Trust, named individuals.
- Another school? A: Yes, this would be one way of fostering links between local schools and providing some additional educational expertise to the GB. (Read more about links betwen Trust Schools.)
- Are there any organisations that cannot be named as a sponsor? A: Don’t know of any limitations, other than those who cannot fulfill the broad criteria of offering substantial financial or other assistance, or of providing services to the school. The Governing Body cannot be its own sponsor. Therre might be an expectation that the choice of any sponsor organisation for a church school should be in keeping with its ethos. (See Southwark Diocese Guidance for its Catholic schools)
- Do the sponsors have to be identified? A: Yes – they must be specifically named in the Instrument of Government: eg “The sponsor entitled to nominate a person for appointment as a sponsor governor under schedule 5 of the Regulations is St Custard’s Community Centre.”
- How long is a sponsor governor’s term of office? A: The default term is four years, unless the Instrument of Government specifies that this category of governor will serve a shorter term than this.
- Where can I find more information about Sponsor Governors? A: The Great Governance website gives general info, and some detailed advice on how to remove a sponsor governor.
- What do we do if we wish to have a sponsor governor category on our Governing Body? A: Update September 2012 – you can’t do this any more. If the GB reconstitutes after September 2012 for any reason, the new model of composition does not include any provision for a category of sponsor governors. (However, if the GB just carries on with an existing instrument of government, then current sponsor governors and ones appointed before any formal reconstitution will continue to hold office.)Old: Ask the clerk to add this an agenda item for discussion, (having discussed it first with the Chair, I suggest). The Sponsor (organisation or individual/s) would have to agree to take on the role. The Governing Body would need to amend its Instrument of Government to show that there were to be one or more sponsor governors (ie one, two, three or four) AND state who the sponsor was who had the power to nominate governors to this position. The amended Instrument of Government is then submitted to your Local Authority to be formally issued. Once the sponsor has put forward names for consideration, the GB could make the appointments.