How many terms should foundation trust governors serve?

This is a question that is asked quite frequently and while typically foundation trusts have been guided by the foundation trust code of governance provisions in respect of non-executive directors (NEDs), the code does not address the number of governor terms.

Our analysis looks at the key statutory duties for governors, which require an outside perspective and degree of independence. For governors, like their NED colleagues, independence is vital and while there is nothing specific in the code of governance, it is both good sense and good practice for trusts to seek to refresh their council membership from time to time by limiting the number of consecutive terms governors can serve.

We would contend that limiting the number of consecutive terms governors can remain in place to three is reasonable and constitutes good governance practice. Trusts might wish to allow former governors to return after a period of time, but there should arguably be a gap of at least one three-year term. You can read our full guidance in the briefing.


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