Lots of boards will be looking to fill vacancies at the moment, but they may not have heard about the bespoke matching service, Governors for Schools.
Governors for Schools placed (a whopping) 321 volunteers onto school boards in March 2022, one of those being Troy, a 28 year old youth worker from Harrow who joined Canons High School in Edgware. This was their best month for volunteer placements in five years.
Firstly, people who've decided they want to become a school governor approach Governors for Schools looking for a way to get started. That might be prompted by a google search or it's a volunteer who's found out governance through one of the organisation's corporate partners. This request is then picked up by one of the team's partnership managers who will gather information about the volunteer’s skills and preferences. Then it's down to the placement team to start finding appropriate opportunities from their list of school vacancies.
Shima Begum and Naomi Stokes are both members of the placements team, looking after placements in the North & East London and East London, respectively.
Shima says: “Finding the perfect match involves carefully identifying the needs of a given school board and finding volunteers with appropriate skills. I also encourage volunteers to look at our online learning modules, as these will equip them with the knowledge they need to hit the ground running.”
Naomi agrees about the importance of skills matching, adding: “Building strong relationships with schools and volunteers is also vital, giving us the knowledge and confidence to identify a great match when it comes along.”
Both Naomi and Shima say they gain a lot of satisfaction from the placement process. As Naomi explains, “The schools, trusts and, local authorities we work alongside are always so pleased with our matches and their positive feedback gives me such a buzz.” Shima says she feels the same, “I’m always thrilled to share in volunteers’ and schools’ excitement and am proud to play a key role in helping schools find their ideal candidates.”
When it comes to filling governor vacancies, both Shima and Naomi have helpful advice for schools. For Shima, “Willingness to consider a variety of candidates can significantly enhance the efficacy of school boards. After all, diversity can help to bring a range of skills and opinions to the table. While it can be helpful to have some preferred skills in mind, unconscious bias can sometimes limit the diversity of views, skills, and experiences, on your board.”
Naomi, meanwhile, focuses on the logistics of the recruitment process, noting: “It is vital that schools are realistic and open-minded throughout. While many schools haven’t considered the possibility of recruiting remote governors, for example, remote governance could significantly improve the diversity of your board and introduce more flexible ways of working.”