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Could your employer help to recruit more governors?

Article DT Teacher 1

Boards need a full membership to be effective but there are currently many vacancies on school and trust boards across England.

Governors for Schools, a charity that finds and places volunteers on school and academy governing boards, runs a programme with employers to recruit staff as governors and would like to get more companies on board with the scheme.

Not only do schools benefit from a new and varied pool of skilled volunteers from diverse backgrounds, but employers can build strategic links with schools, and provide staff with unique CPD opportunities they may not otherwise encounter in the workplace.

We speak to Julie Thiberg, Head of Charity Development at Governors for Schools, to learn more.

Julie, how does the programme work?

It’s been in place since Governors for Schools started in 1999 and has been central to our success really. It's allowed us to recruit lots of skilled governors to boards across the country.

What do new recruits on the programme say - has it helped them professionally?

Absolutely. At the end of their first year as a governor, 32% of our volunteers told us that they used their governance experience as evidence in performance reviews. Many specifically cite the development of their skills in challenging, scrutinising, and probing information.

 2I use a lot of my work skills in my governance work as I sit on the finance and resources committee and look at different financial statements prepared by the school.

I also monitor our budget - looking for any emerging issues, and benchmark our spending against other schools in terms of costs.

I have an ACA qualification so this work has been really helpful as I hadn’t been using this knowledge much in my role at Deloitte. I’m moving into a more finance-focused role at Deloitte now and am feeling very ready for the transition.3

Anusri Brahma, Deloitte employee

You're already working with several big organisations - what do employers say about the programme?

Yes, we’re currently working with organisations including Deutsche Bank, Citibank, and JLL, and we’re always looking for new partners, especially in regions where it’s harder to find volunteers. 

We’ve just launched a partnership with Admiral to increase the number of volunteers in Wales, which has already generated a lot of interest and last year we started a partnership with Atkins, and have already recruited 37 of their employees for governor roles.

2It's been an absolute pleasure to work with the Governors for Schools team, and we couldn't ask for a higher level of service.

They are proactive, insightful, and engaging, and are a big part of the reason we've been able to grow trust and credibility in the Atkins STEM governors' programme across such a large and complex organisation, as well as inspiring our clients.3

Atkins employee

Once the partnership’s in place how do you support companies and their new governors?

We provide free training for placed volunteers, an induction programme, networking events and we track online their professional development throughout their governance journey.

New governors also get a year’s subscription to GovernorHub Knowledge, which has practical resources and on-demand training so they can get up to speed and contribute straight away. 

We also help employers measure their social impact by providing data on the number of pupils reached through our partnerships, and the number of hours volunteered by employees, as well as providing feedback from volunteers and schools.

How’s recruitment going this year?

We’re currently working on an initiative called the 125,000 challenge, where we’re aiming to place enough new governors, sourced from our corporate partners, to benefit at least 125,000 children by the end of this academic year.

Since September, we’ve placed 172 volunteers in 160 schools, impacting over 86,000 pupils, so we’re on track!

Wow, good luck with that! Anything else you’d like to add?

As a charity, we truly value and appreciate all our volunteers’ hard work and dedication to the role. If you’re a school governor, please know your commitment is instrumental in making a positive impact on young people’s educational experiences.

Get your employer involved

Start a school governor programme at your workplace:

> Find out more

> Contact Julie: [email protected]

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