I have always had an interest in education, working, in the past, as a primary school teacher and a university lecturer. I stopped working when I became a mother. When my youngest was old enough not to need me constantly, I decided to go back to part time work and started working as an adult literacy tutor. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the class was cancelled. At around the same time there was a vacancy for a parent governor at my daughter’s school. I decided to stand for the post. Having been a governor for over six years now, this post gives me chance to reflect on “YBA Governor”.
What is involved in becoming a governor?
Governors are the largest volunteer force in the country. So, if you are thinking of becoming a governor, you’ll be in good company, but will need to know what’s involved.
Governance is not something which can be accomplished easily over a few evenings in the year. It may be a voluntary post but it does demand time and hard work. Governance needs people who are passionate about education and about giving the young in our schools the best possible chance in life. Yes, there are two or three meetings per term but a great deal of preparation needs to be done before you can attend the meeting. There will be papers to read and digest and monitoring visits to be carried out. As a governor you should also make an effort to attend school functions so that students, parents and staff get to know the person under the governor hat. Juggling hats is another thing you need to learn how to do. If you are a parent of a child at the school or are a staff member then you need to learn when to wear which hat! You will be expected to attend induction training upon joining and then other courses as and when needed. These will help you understand you statutory duties and how to perform them. The one thing which we must remember is that governance is not something to be treated as a badge of honour! You have to work hard at it and be totally committed to the role.
What do people get out of the role?
Despite of all of the above, people do become governors, with many of us serving more than one school and many stay on for more than one term. So, there must be a reason (or several!) why people give up their time to join governing bodies.
Becoming a governor is one way of establishing/maintaining links with the education sector. Do remember, however, that you do not need to be an educator in order to be an effective governor. As a governor you would be serving a community. It could be your local community which is served by your school or it could be the community of an area which is not your place of work or residence. You would also be serving the school community, the students, parents and staff of the school. As a governor you bring a fresh perspective to the table. Schools can, sometimes, become set in their ways. Governors come from different backgrounds and bring different skill sets. These can be beneficial in helping the school look at new ideas. Sometimes in order to “think outside the box” to solve a problem it may help that you yourself live “outside the box”. Part of the job is to monitor the performance of the school and ensure that the students are being afforded the best opportunities to realise their potential. Governors can use their day job skills to make sure the school is performing well. They can provide an objective and unbiased viewpoint. A governor’s role is to help set the vision and the strategic direction of the school. This means that you allow the Headteacher and the school’s senior leadership team to concentrate on the day to day running, the operational side of things. Both bodies, working together, can then help make the school into the type the school the students and staff deserve and parents desire. Like in other sectors, good governance will lead to good strategic decision making which will result in good overall performance. Lastly, becoming a governor is a very good way of gaining new skills. You will learn how to read and analyse data, how up set up long term goals, how to interview and appoint to senior positions including that of the head, how to appraise staff and how to conduct meetings and lead a team and get the best out of each member of the team. The skills you bring from your day job will be very useful in the boardroom and similarly you will find that the skills you develop by becoming a member of a board will be useful to you outside the boardroom.
So, although becoming a governor is a huge time commitment and requires dedication, it is a very worthwhile thing to do. The question, for me, isn’t why be a governor. The question is why not be a governor!
Governor at a secondary convertor academy