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Being A Governor – Top Reasons for Becoming a School Governor

December 5th, 2017

At Octavo we understand that school governors are giving up their time to help their community, which is why we do everything we can to support them. School Governors are the largest volunteer force in the country, and schools would be very different without their input. The role of governor has changed immensely since its inception, and now government guidelines describe school governors as ‘non-executive strategic leaders’, a far cry from the tea-and-biscuits image some people may have had. Could it be said that has the role now become ‘strictly business’? Recently there have even been calls for some form of recompense for governors, such as tax breaks, to reflect the strategic input and commitment that their redefined role requires. What motivations could there be for putting so much energy and professionalism into a ‘voluntary career’?

I interviewed three long term governors to find out their top reasons for being a school governor, and what governing had taught them.

Janet Nelms has been a governor for nine years at primary and PRU settings. A member of the National Chair of Governors Forum (NCOGS), a support and campaigning group for governors and schools.

“I think it gives you the chance to be involved in the education of children and help the next generation. It gives you a chance to use the skills you have developed in your own working life to the benefit of the children and it provides a really interesting role, giving you the opportunity to be involved in the strategic decisions and future direction of the school”. For me, one of the most satisfying aspects of the role has been the Headteacher’s performance review, looking at the needs of the school and making sure that the objectives would help the school meet this, as well as looking at the home life and CPD needs of the Head. Also, planning to move from LA to Academy Trust. The process was very interesting, such as the factors you had to consider before making the decision, and helping to move the school forward whilst also working in partnership to support the head.”

Keith Robinson, Governor for 30 years, and Chair of Directors at the Synaptic Trust.

“I really enjoy going in to my schools, talking to children and the staff. Being a governor can be very rewarding and I do enjoy feeling part of a team who is working to improve the life chances of children who sometimes come from very challenging backgrounds. I strongly believe that our children deserve the very best education we can provide for them and therefore we must all strive to be outstanding. It is an opportunity to give something back to society and to help children at an important time in their lives. Everybody has life experiences which they can ‘bring to the table’ and these are so important in providing an external view and prospective for school leaders. Finally working as part of team helping YOUR school to grow and develop is very rewarding.”

John Phillipson, a governor of 13 years standing, and representative at NCOGS

“There are several reasons. The opportunity to give back to an education system we all benefitted from. Being part of a team whose main purpose is focused on the best outcomes for children. Lastly, meeting and working with a broad range of different professionals united in a great cause. One really valuable lesson is it puts you in an environment where the profit is only measured in the outcomes for children rather than shareholder profit and that reminds us that there is more to life than a balance sheet!”

“The best advice I could give to those considering volunteering as a governor would be don’t do it for the label! Being called a school Governor does not give you respect. Using your skills and judgement to walk alongside a senior management team and encourage, through appropriate challenges resulting in better outcomes for the children, does get you respect and an amazing sense of worthwhile and lasting satisfaction. If you want to make a real difference to children’s lives, it’s a brilliant thing to do. Everyone has enough time to be a school governor, the only question is if you feel the role is important enough to give it the priority it needs, if you do you’re in for an exciting ride!”

The role of the school governor is becoming ever more important when it comes to the strategic direction of a school. Schools are actively looking to recruit and train governors, a process Octavo will support and assist throughout. If a role in school governance appeals to you, contact our team at Octavo Governance, to find out exactly what is involved, and which local schools might have a place in their team for someone just like you.

Governors what do you think?  What are your reasons for being a Governor?  Do you agree with our interviewees?

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