I wanted to be a school governor because I wanted to give something back to the community.
In 2019 I had 2 small children who were approaching school age and I basically just wanted to better understand the school system.
I saw a social media post about becoming a school governor and then applied for a role locally. I had an interview with the chair of governors, a tour of the school and a DBS check - that was pretty much it. After some initial training I was up-and-running as a governor.
I certainly felt a bit like a newbie when I walked in for the first time. My age particularly meant I was a bit of an outlier as you get a lot of older and retired governors, but there are also people who've worked in education, or who've had children that have moved on but they're still there.
People worry they need to have an education background but there are a lot of transferable skills from business. You don't have to have worked in education or teaching to be of huge value to the school.
I work in technology for a large consulting organisation, and my background has been in design agencies, consulting, and IT primarily, but mainly in project management.
The experience is twofold - there are times I've brought my skills to bear for the school, and times when I've taken important things away from it. We had some deputy headteacher interviews and I found the interviewing structure really insightful - it gave me another type of experience to take back into my working role. Also, when we challenge the KPIs (key performance indicators) and metrics, it's helped me do that at work too so I think they sort of feed on each other. As I gain more experience at work, I become more valuable to the school, and then, as I gain more experience being a governor, it pays back in my work life so it works really well.
Get stuck in. It's really rewarding.
There are big socioeconomic challenges that a lot of families face and the impact is really felt at school. There are lots of concerns around safeguarding, as well as making sure there are sufficient provisions for children who speak English as an additional language. It’s important to think about how they're accommodated.
The thing that has surprised me the most is the diversity of the children in terms of their different educational needs. The breadth of different languages spoken and the range of challenges that teachers have to overcome. It's not just about teaching the curriculum. It's about making it accessible to everyone.
We're also doing surveys for the staff and speaking to the children, and making sure they feel comfortable. Sometimes it’s really day-to-day, and getting involved in things such as volunteering to serve the Christmas lunch, but it's also putting measures in place to improve staff mental health. Seeing the drive of the teachers and their motivation, and helping them to keep going as much as the children is really important.
"Many hands make light work," is always our phrase. If you've got more governors, you can do so much more and it really impacts the school, whereas when you've only got a small group, you really only keep the lights on. When you have a full complement of governor, you're better able to cover more areas and really focus on school improvement.
Training is provided and there are some great forums and groups out there for governors. GovernorHub is a great resource too, so there are plenty of things to look for to help you on your journey.
The key thing about being a governor is that you're helping to steer a school strategically, so it's not about the day to day operations which is the responsibility of the leadership.
Now that my kids are at school, being a governor has helped me to support them better, to ask teachers better questions and really understand education as a whole.
I would say to anyone thinking about it to basically get stuck in. It's really rewarding.
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