There are about 370,000 governors in England and Wales. One in ten positions is vacant. Boards in most state, non-faith schools, consist of the head, staff members elected by their school peers, elected parents and members co-opted for a particular expertise.
Included in their responsibilities are:
* The overall strategic vision of the school. They are expected to act as a critical friend of senior management.
* The purse strings. All decisions regarding school finances have to be agreed by the board.
* The performance management of headteachers, with the close involvement of a professional adviser. The head carries out all other performance reviews.
Governors can over-rule the head's decision on individual pay increases, but only with sound, transparent reasons. Governors have no role in the professional monitoring of teachers - they need only know that such monitoring is taking place.
* Ensuring that in all its activities the school fulfils its legal duties.
* Setting academic targets and monitoring progress made.
* A role in disciplinary procedures, for both staff and pupils, including the first appeal.
* All governors have the same voting rights. They do not have to act solely for their constituency, but for what they see as the good of the whole school community.