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We are often asked what stands as a conflict of interest for a governor and how these should be dealt with.

Essentially a conflict of interests is when a governor is in a position where they are making a decision or contributing to a discussion in which they may not be able to make a decision in the best interests of the school because they have a personal interest in its outcome.  The conflict could be a personal one; related to their position as a staff member or parent in the school perhaps, or it could be a financial one; related to the outcome of a decision having some financial gain for the governor or a relative or friend of the governor.

It is important to note that a perceived conflict is as important as an actual conflict. If a governor doesn’t think that they are conflicted in their decision-making in a particular situation, but it could be percieved by somebody outside of the governing body that they are, this is as important as an actual conflict and should be treated in the same way. A example of this could be a situation in which, for example, a governor’s son-in-law’s company is tendering for a contract at the school. A governor may think that because he does not like his son-in-law and would never accept any cash from him, he is not conflicted in his decision making. However, it may well be perceived by other tenderers that the governor may vote in favour of his son in law’s company as they do not know the intricacies of their relationship. Therefore, this situation should be dealt with in the same way as an actual conflict.

If you are a governor and you think that you either have or could be perceived to have a conflict when voting on a decision for the governing body, you should declare your conflict and remove yourself from the vote in order to ensure that the decision is not put at risk later down the line.

Our advice is that in situations where you are not sure whether you have a conflict, it is better to be safe and remove yourself from a vote.

Penny Levack

Penny Levack

Penny has more than ten years’ experience in the classroom, in assessment design, and in leadership roles in both schools and universities. Her most recent role before joining Juniper Education was in governance, compliance, and communications in a multi-academy trust in South London. Penny is a governor herself and is passionate about school governance and the impact that it can have on school improvement. She has a degree in Education Studies from the University of Cambridge.