In addition to statutory documents, colleges will have a portfolio of internal information that they share with new governors explaining how the governance processes work. The clerk of the Board is likely to be the best person from whom to obtain this and other introductory information.
Information a new governor can expect to be given by their college at the start of their time as a governor (not exhaustive)
You will need to be informed how, as a governor, you will access papers for each meeting you attend. In many cases, colleges are moving to e-governance and the electronic storage of documents, in which case you will need to be issued with passwords and any other access information.
Some colleges will operate a buddying or mentoring system for new governors. A more experienced governor can be a valuable source of advice and support; new governors may wish to ask their college if such a system exists locally.
The college will hold many events during the year, which new governors may wish to attend to build links with students and staff and become more involved with the life of the college. The college will have a calendar with the dates of these events or should otherwise notify you of forthcoming events.
A map showing the layout of the college can be very useful, especially where new governors are unfamiliar with the site or if the facilities are at more than one location.
The governing body will have a number of committees. New governors will need to be given a list of these committees showing the membership and chair of each.
New governors will also need to be given the contact details of other governors – their postal addresses, emails and phone numbers.
Consent to share data
New governors are likely to be asked to consent to share data with other governors, such as email, postal address and contact numbers. This may be incorporated into 'eligibility to be a governor' above.
Cycle of work – governing body and/or college
The college may produce a summary of the work completed by each committee throughout the year, explaining how their work addresses the requirements of the college. If this is available, such a document can be useful in setting the role of governor in the wider context of the college.
Dates of governor meetings
New governors will, naturally, need to be informed of the dates of governor meetings. These are likely to be set well in advance but may be subject to amendment if circumstances dictate it. All governors should be informed in good time of any changes of date, time or location.
Declaration of Interests
New governors will be asked to declare any interests that may potentially conflict with their role as governor and with the interests of the college. This is commonly asked at the start of meetings and a statutory annual return is required, the timing of which will vary from college to college but usually coincides with the academic year.
Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly CRB) check
Although this is not statutory requirement, the corporation may have taken the decision to continue to conduct these checks.
Eligibility to be a member of the corporation
There will be an annual return confirming that governors still meet the requirements to be a governor. This is linked to the Instrument and articles of Government.
New governors will need to be informed about the expenses they can claim and how a claim for expenses should be made.
It is possible that some governors may be linked to a particular curriculum area or statutory requirement such as health and safety or safeguarding. New governors should be informed of any colleagues who have such a role and given a clear definition of their responsibilities.
As well as common national acronyms, which can be found under other useful resources, the college is likely to have developed its own acronyms. It would be very useful if the college could supply a list.
Skills and experience audit
To ensure that there is a balance of skills on the Board, new governors may be asked to complete a form on induction and/or annually asking them to describe relevant skills and experience. This information will help the search committee (however titled locally) recruit future governors and address any gaps in the existing Board.
Terms of Reference
Each committee and the governing body will have its Terms of Reference (ToR) that (minimally) state its membership, quorum, responsibilities and delegated powers. New governors should receive or have access to a copy of the ToR for the Board and any committee which they are a member of. If can also be useful to have copies of the ToR of any other committees.
Tour of the college
New governors should be given or should request a tour of the college at their first meeting with the Chair and principal. This will give an overview of the facilities available to students and staff and also provide practical information, such as where meetings will be held, how to get in during the evening, where the canteen facilities and wash rooms are and so forth.
The college may provide induction training for new governors and development training for all governors. This may be arranged as part of a formal programme or be delivered on an ad hoc basis but you should be made aware of any relevant forthcoming events.