What’s needed? Time and enthusiasm should probably be top of the list as they are vital if governing bodies are going to help their schools attain at the highest level possible.
If you are a UK resident you will need to:
- be over the age of 18;
- be prepared to go through a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check;
- value and be interested in education;
- have time to invest in a school;
- have common sense and a belief in the school you are supporting – a business or educational background would be a bonus but is not essential (ideally governing bodies would like to have on board a mix of legal, financial, buildings and human resources expertise but in most cases this is just not possible);
- have the ability to observe and learn and the confidence to challenge where needed – the role of a governor is to become a ‘critical friend’ to the headteacher;
- to be willing to undertake the training recommended to build up the relevant knowledge to help the school plot a clear strategic direction – however grand your day job do not assume that you will add value just by being there;
- enjoy working with a wide range of people;
- have a home life flexible enough to support the odd hours and sudden demands;
- have a laptop – not essential but it will protect you from a forest of paperwork.
I am currently a school governor and have clerked for some thirty different school governing bodies in the UK over the past decade. I have worked with governors from infant schools, secondary schools, interim executive boards, pupil referral units and special schools.
Together we have handled complaints, admission appeals, redundancy procedures, exclusions and thousands of committee meetings.
We have been trained, inspected and buried in papers, policies, curriculum reviews and data. We have fretted about the law and considered all manner of confederations and academies. We have sat in cold classrooms on tiny chairs late into the night. We have worked alongside staff and some pupils and been amazed at school productions and award ceremonies.
As governors we have all learned on the job and most of us have gone back for more.
Is it worth it? The evidence suggests well-governed schools do make a difference to the outcomes for pupils so we’ll keep trying.