What new board members should know

Joining a school board can be quite overwhelming, especially at first.  It is understandably intimidating to be presented with huge pile of paper (or large digitised files) containing the board’s handbook of policies and procedures, minutes of past meetings, financial statements, organisational charts, and so on, together with your obligatory “welcome to the board” card (or e-mail).

Burdensome as these may appear, these documents are necessary because becoming a board member means accepting legal duties and potential liabilities.  Being fully informed is not a luxury; it is an expectation.

Let’s imagine that you have taken up your place as a new board member, you have received, read and understood the documents, and hopefully have had a tour of the school with the opportunity to meet key people, have some informal conversations and “sniff the mood” of the campus.  

You have realised that there will be more work than you had expected, more responsibility than you had been given to understand, and potentially more frustrations than you might have anticipated.  On the other hand, you can see real potential for making positive, substantial and lasting changes that will bring life-enhancing benefits to countless young people whose education has been entrusted to the school by their parents.

Wow!  What a joy, privilege and honour you have!

So what is next?  I suggest that there are ten things a new board member should know and understand.

-Dr Stephen Codrington

We can assist with board member orientation on an individual basis or through our board mentoring service.


Processes and requirements for board member induction are discussed in workshops such as OSG-S1 - Board Operations as well as in the book "Optimal School Governance", which can be ordered directly through Pronins.

You may also be interested in previous articles which are archived at https://optimalschool.com/articles.html.