Angela O’Neill who sits on our Chamber Exec Committee writes… With some help from fellow governors – I started out being (a bit too) clever, writing lots of fancy words and phrases and presenting a well-argued case for being a governor. But after many lines of (very good) prose, I hit the delete button. Because, at the end of the day, the message is simple: schools need governors – good governors, and business people can make good, if not excellent, governors.
This is, simply an appeal for you – and your colleagues – to consider becoming a school governor. I am one, and I am proud to be one. I have skills that don’t exist within the school body, so I can provide practical help and advice. I am impartial – I am not paid by anyone to be a governor – so I can provide challenge. And I am not afraid to challenge, and present a different way of thinking, which can help the school think about approaching things in a different way, to the benefit of the community they serve (staff, students, parents and carers).
It’s hard for schools to recruit new governors – people have the misconception that you need to ‘understand’ the education system (you don’t) or be a parent (you don’t, in fact it makes you more impartial if you’re not), or that you need to give up loads of time (again, not true). School governors make up the largest volunteer force in the country, with over 250,000 volunteers on governing boards in England’s state schools. They’re really important, and they need to be joined by people like you.
Here’s a bit more information about some of the misconceptions that people have about being a school governor:
- You don’t need special qualifications or a background in education
Governing boards are looking for people with a wide range of skills, from accountancy and financial planning to human resources, facilities management, ICT and beyond.
- You don’t need to be a parent to be a governor
There are several ‘types’ of governor; a co-opted governor is elected by the governing board (this could be you!), a local authority governor elected by the local authority, or a parent governor elected by the parent body. Governing boards are all made up of a mix of these; a board cannot just be made up of parent governors.
- It doesn’t take up a lot of time
Governors spend on average 5 hours a month during term time, mostly outside of normal office hours. It is usual to have 6 full board meetings each year, lasting around 1 to 2 hours each. There is also the option to join a committee or working party which may meet occasionally throughout the year. Governors conduct a few monitoring visits in school hours each year. Businesses will often allow staff to have time off for volunteering work, too.
- You don’t need to have knowledge of the education system
You will learn as you go. New governors are given induction training to get started. If you want to learn more about areas of interest, courses are also available, both in classroom and remotely using video conferencing or online materials.
- Your skills are transferable
There are many skills from the business world that benefit a school governing board, including strategic leadership, budget control, data analysis, effective teamworking, building relationships, problem solving and communication.
Being a governor gives you the opportunity to make a difference in our community, and The Value of Volunteering report, published by Education and Employers in collaboration with the CIPD, provides deeper insight into the multifaceted benefits of volunteering in education. Some of their key findings were:
- 80% reported benefits for their communication, influencing and relationship skills
- 79% reported improvements to their sense of mission at work as a result of volunteering in education and 68% reported greater motivation at work
- 94% felt they gained a better understanding of society and social issues
- 99% who are volunteering in schools felt that they made a difference to young people.
Your involvement and commitment to a local school could make a massive difference to the future of young people and your community. Your input will help the school to improve and its children to get the best education possible.
Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest and you’re thinking ‘yes, I could be a governor!’ If you want to find out more about specific vacancies, do get in touch with me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) or take a look at the following links: