The Benefits of Being a School Governor

I have talked a lot about being a School Governor – normally a sign with me that I’m passionate and engaged about something (although I can talk about most things for some time!). Having stepped down as chair of Governors and resigned from the Governing Body at the end of last term, I thought I would use my summer blog to reflect on what the role has meant for me.

Being a School Governor is often seen as a ‘nominal’ role, taken on by well-meaning members of the community to showcase their community spirit. What many people don’t realise is just what being a School Governor entails; it’s hard work, especially when you are trying to improve a school (I went on a journey from Ofsted judgements of Satisfactory, Requires Improvement and then two Goods).

School Governors have a challenging role. Did you know that they are officially responsible (as a Corporate Board) for:

  • Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent
  • Holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils
  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction

As Chair, your role is to lead the Governing Body team to ensure that these things happen (and to manage the enthusiastic board members who want to sort out parking issues, deal with specific teaching concerns etc, all well-intentioned but not the role of a GB).

For me, the role provided a great supplement to my working life, especially as I was building my business. It gave me a chance to:

  1. Flex my leadership ‘muscle’; having been in management positions for a number of years, when I left my last employment in 2011 I was no longer using the skills I’d acquired as a leader / manager. Becoming Chair gave me the chance to keep these skills alive.
  2. Be part of a team; as a one-man band business I got lonely but being part of ‘Team GB’ as well as the wider leadership team in school – I was lucky to have a great working relationship with our Head and Deputy – fulfilled that need in me.
  3. I observed at close hand, and I hope played a small part as coach, champion and sounding board, in the school’s transformation journey. As a parent throughout most of my time in the role this benefited my children but also the wider school community.
  4. The role gave me a chance to give back to the wider community in which I live. Something that I hadn’t foreseen when I took on the role was how rewarding and fulfilling that would be; the school I was in took children from a very wide range of backgrounds and circumstances and being able to play a part in ensuring that these families and their children got the best opportunities and start in life was particularly satisfying to be a part of.

So would I recommend the role? YES if you have spare time and some experience that can benefit the school; this can be in a wide range of skills. If you’re not sure what you may have to offer, speak to the local school – you’d be surprised at what they require and how much they may need you!