On Board: a guide for members of statutory boards

Guidance for all those appointed under statute to be members of the boards of public bodies in Scotland.

Annex B Induction and Training for Board Members

Induction programmes, events and material should be a standard feature, with a public body providing information on a range of topics, e.g. policies, procedures, roles, responsibilities, rules and key personnel.

The following list of induction guidance and training is not prescriptive but is designed to give you an idea of the type of support that may be provided by your public body.


A one-to-one meeting should take place with the Chair immediately following appointment to discuss in broad terms what is expected of a Board member in the first year and any individual role he or she is expected to play. (The Chair and Board member should meet on a regular basis as part of the appraisal process.)

An induction session within one month of appointment should explain:

  • The legislative framework for the organisation and its remit
  • Organisational structure
  • The collective role of the Board
  • Arrangements, formats etc. of Board meetings including agenda planning
  • Details of any subsidiary Boards and committees (e.g. Regional Boards, Audit Committee) and their responsibilities
  • The long-term strategy of the organisation
  • The corporate planning system
  • The role of the Chief Executive as the Accountable Officer
  • Current priority areas of work
  • Budget and financial information, including the monitoring role of the Board
  • The public body's policies on openness - where appropriate, including the role of Board members in promoting the public body to the public and in the media
  • Links between the public body/Board and the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. This should include details of where the sponsor Directorate fits within the Scottish Government structure, details of sponsor Minister(s) etc
  • Links to other key partner organisations and an outline of who the key stakeholders and customers are
  • Arrangements for Board members' remuneration and expenses
  • The organisation's Code of Conduct for Board members and Code of Conduct issues, including policies on the registration and declaration of interests, gifts and hospitality, use of social media by Board members etc. This should include guidance on completing the Register of Interests
  • Whistleblowing procedures - how to raise concerns and how to respond to concerns being raised
  • Details of arrangements for monitoring and reporting on the performance of Board members
  • The Corporate Risk Register and approach to risk management

Ideally, this session should be attended by all new Board members and by some existing Board members to allow the latter to pass on experience. Some other members of the senior management team may also attend, including the Board secretary.

New Board members may require support in certain areas. The induction process should explore development needs for all new Board members and agree a development plan.

It may also be appropriate for a Board member to meet with other key staff in the organisation - for example the Chief Executive who will be able to advise of their role in their capacity as the Accountable Officer and, where the Board member is to sit on the Audit Committee, they may wish to meet audit and finance staff.

Obtaining feedback from new Board members on the induction they received will provide a useful source of information and will help ensure the process remains effective.


  • The latest Annual Report and Accounts
  • The latest Corporate Plan and Operational/Business Plan
  • The Corporate Strategy or similar strategic document
  • Any significant recent policy or consultation documents which the public body has published.

Written Material

  • Guide to any legislation under which the public body was established
  • Copy of the Budget Allocation and Monitoring letter from the sponsor Minister for the coming year
  • National Performance Framework
  • Strategic guidance from the Scottish Government
  • Copy of the public body's current Framework Document
  • Standing Orders for the conduct of Board meetings
  • Organisational structure, staff directory, office addresses etc
  • Biographical and contact details of other Board members (and, where appropriate, those in subsidiary Boards and Committees)
  • Summary of key roles and responsibilities within the organisation - Board, subsidiary Boards and committees, Chief Executive/ Accountable Officer, management team, other senior staff
  • Forward programme of Board meeting dates and any other key events (press launches, conferences etc.)
  • The organisation's Code of Conduct for Board members
  • The Standards Commission Guidance on the Model Code for Members of Devolved Public Bodies
  • Copy of the organisation's Data Protection, Freedom of Information and other relevant policies and procedures relating to corporate governance and accountability - and if they exist:
    • Policy for Board members in dealing with the media
    • List of acronyms relating to the public body's area of work, partner organisations etc.
  • The Corporate Risk Register
  • Schedule of Matters Reserved for the Decision of the Board and Scheme of Delegation
  • Action plan arising from most recent review of Board effectiveness
  • The Scottish Public Services Ombudsman model Complaints Handling procedure and briefing note for Board members
  • Minutes from at least the last four Board and Audit Committee meetings
  • Copy of Corporate Parent Plan (should the public body be classified as a Corporate Parent in Schedule 4 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Terms and Conditions

  • Guidance on claiming travel and subsistence expenses
  • Guidance on claiming other allowances where appropriate (e.g. child care)
  • Guidance on tax issues (e.g. for home to office travel)
  • Guidance on Register of Interests, and Gifts and Hospitality

First Board Meeting

Time should be included so that the new Board member can be formally introduced to all present. In advance of this meeting, the new member should be made aware of any protocols, for example in relation to making points at meetings, presenting information and overall expectations as to behaviour (being inclusive, respecting others etc.). At the end of the Board meeting, the Chair should spend a few minutes with the new Board member to allow them the opportunity to ask any questions or raise concerns that they may have.


The public body should consider providing any further training deemed necessary to assist the Board, individually or collectively, to carry out its duties, particularly covering areas such as their roles and responsibilities, the financial management and reporting requirements of public bodies, appraisal systems both for individual members and collective functionality, ethical standards and any other differences which may exist between private and public sector practice.

To complement the induction that a Board member will have received from their own public body, they will find it beneficial to also attend any induction workshops for newly appointed members organised by the Scottish Government Public Bodies Unit and the Public Appointments Team.

Induction for Board Chair

The induction of a new Chair is the responsibility of the sponsor division and the Chief Executive of the body in question.

When a new Chair is appointed, sponsor teams should ensure that an early meeting is arranged with the appropriate Director-General, Deputy or Deputy Director to ensure that there is mutual agreement about what is expected of the body. It may also be appropriate for an early meeting to be arranged between the Chair and the Minister.

The induction of the new Chair should cover all the topics already mentioned. In addition, there are some topics that are specific to new Chairs including:


The relevant Scottish Government Director or Deputy Director (as appropriate) is responsible for setting objectives for the Chair and conducting their appraisal. There is guidance on appraisal for Chair and Board members.


An important part of the induction process will be to explore with the Chair the experience they have, any training that is required and any development opportunities which may be appropriate for them.

Recruitment and Selection

It is likely that the Chair will be involved in the selection of other Board members. It is important to ensure that he/she has undertaken appropriate training in conducting interviews, including equality awareness training.


Email: PublicBodiesUnitMailbox@gov.scot

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