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School governance is missing something: YOU

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This article was written by Thira, our work experience student from Stratford School Academy.

She spent a week with GovernorHub and The Key for School Governor's content team in July, learning all about how they research, write, proof and publish articles, and then it was over to her!

We were really impressed with her article, looking at an important issue in the governance sector and are pleased to share it here.

What even is ‘governance’?

You may not be familiar with this word. Simply put, ‘governance’ is a layer of leadership in every school.
The ‘governing board’ is a group of people that work with a school’s headteacher and other leaders on
things like:

  • Strategy
  • Policies
  • Budgeting
  • Staffing

As a governor, you:

  •  Attend board meetings
  •  Make school visits with learning walks where you interact with a range of staff members and pupils
  •  Ask questions about why things are done a certain way and whether they can be done better

Why should I be a governor?

Governors lead schools. So who better to lead schools than those of us who just left them? There aren’t any qualifications to be a governor other than being 18 or older and really wanting to make a difference.

As a young governor, you’ll work with senior leaders to support teachers and make schools better. By doing this, you’ll also:

  • Build up professional skills
  • Boost your CV

 You might feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the idea of sitting on a governing board, where most of the people around you will be older and have more experience. But believe me – schools need to hear voices like yours, and those people around you know that you have important things to say.

 For example:

  • If you had a great experience at school, you can make sure that this continues so other pupils can get the same outstanding education you had.
  • Or if you didn’t, then you know the barriers that were in your way. You can help remove them
  • If you’re 18-30 and passionate about our education sector, use your heart and soul to project these concerns to a governing board. Don’t speak for one person, but speak on behalf of all of us and strength and unity will be achieved!

But I’m too young, what do I know?

Your more recent school experiences put you at an advantage over older governors, as you are:

  • More aware of what life is like for pupils today
  • More up-to-date about social affairs
  • Knowledgeable to the modern curriculum
  • School is still fresh in your mind

Younger governors will help with diversity, too!

Most governing boards aren’t just missing young governors. They’re also lacking in diversity across:

  • Ethnicity
  • Social class
  • Educational backgrounds
  • But young people can change this, because we’re:
  • Always interacting with people of various cultures and backgrounds other than yours
  • Exposed to diverse communities at a young age and grow up close to them
  • A representative of your wider community
  • Being a young governor gives you an opportunity to speak up, make change and inspire others. We know that this is the best way to give back to your school, your community, your family.

OK, where do I sign up?

You can always just ring up a local school (or even your previous school) and speak to the chair of governors. You’ll find contact details on every school’s website (it’s the law).

You can also reach out to governor recruiting organisations like:

  • GfS (Governor for Schools)- supports skilled people as governors and trustees on school boards. They recruit volunteers from diverse backgrounds through partnerships that specifically target under-presented groups. 
  • The National Black Governors Network (NBGN)- supports existing Black governors and operates outreach efforts to bring more Black volunteers into school governance.
  • Transforming Students - focuses on age diversity on governing boards and aims to support 300 volunteers aged 18 to 30 into governance. 
  • Inspiring Governance- breaks down the usual network-based approach to recruiting governors, which often results in a lack of diversity. They work with a wide range of race organisations and Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff networks to do this.

What will happen next?

These organisations will guide you through or the chair of the board might set up a meeting with you to talk to you about your interests about being on the board. Application processes vary throughout so it is important you contact the organisations first for more details.

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