Carwarden House Community School

Becoming a Trustee

Role of a school Trustee

To contribute to the work of the Trustee Board in ensuring high standards of achievement for all children and young people in the school by:

  • setting the school’s vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • holding the headteacher and leadership team to account for the educational performance of the school and its students;
  • overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.


As part of the Board, a Trustee is expected to

1. Contribute to the strategic discussions at Trustee body meetings which determine:

  • the vision and ethos of the school;
  • clear and ambitious strategic priorities and targets for the school;
  • that all children 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.

2. Hold the senior leaders to account by monitoring the school’s performance:

  • 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 link Trustee on assigned issues (i.e. literacy), making relevant enquiries of the relevant staff, and reporting to the Board on progress on the relevant priority;
  • listening to and reporting to the school’s stakeholders : pupils, parents, staff, and the wider community, including local employers.

3. 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 continuing professional development, and suitable premises, and that the way in which those resources are used has impact.

4. When required, serve on panels of Trustees 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 student exclusions.

The role of Trustee 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 Trustee has the relevant professional experience;
  • fundraise – this is the role of the PTA – the Trustee body should consider income streams and the potential for income generation, but not carry out fundraising tasks;
  • make judgements on the quality of teaching – the Trustee body monitors the quality of teaching in the school by requiring information 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 Trustee body need to consider and rectify this.

As you become more experienced as a Trustee, 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).

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

  • get to know the school and gain a good understanding of its strengths and weaknesses;
  • visit the school to carry out monitoring visits, usually once per term, necessary to observe and report on link priority themes;   
  • attend induction training and regular relevant training and development events;
  • attend meetings having read all the papers before the meeting;
  • act in the best interest of all the students of the school; and
  • behave in a professional manner, as set down in the Trustees Code of Conduct, including observing strict confidentiality.

Time commitment

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

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.


Trustees may receive out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of fulfilling their role as Trustee and we have an expenses policy for this. Payments can cover incidental expenses, such as travel and childcare, but not loss of earnings.

If you would like to become a Trustee at Carwarden House please contact Tim Stokes, Headteacher via email:

Carwarden House Community School is an academy and as such has Trustees who fulfil the roles of member, director and/or trustee.


The members of an academy trust have a different status from the trustees. The members are the subscribers to the trust’s memorandum of association, and any other individuals permitted to become members under its articles of association. Members have an overview of the arrangements of the trust and have the power to appoint trustees and remove trustees.

Information adapted from the National Governors’ Association document What Does a Trustee Do? (2014)

Academy Trust Handbook 2023