7,000 up!

This month Inspiring Governance passed the figure of 7,000 brilliant volunteers successfully placed as school governors – each giving up their valuable time and skills to provide critical support and oversight to our school governing boards – the bedrock of our school system.

We reached this figure only a week after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published their annual survey into volunteering…

This painted a picture of volunteering decline, showing the lowest participation rates since their survey began in 2013 – those adults formally volunteering once a year had dropped to just 27%, and those formally volunteering once a month to 16% (this figure was 45% and 27% respectively in 2013). Eek!

Thankfully, this decline hasn’t been mirrored for Inspiring Governance, although the latest 2022 survey from the National Governance Association warns against complacency, with higher governor vacancies nationally and an ageing profile of governors themselves.

Our volunteer numbers remain high with circa 4,000 across the year and over 1,200 in the last quarter alone since 1st January. Volunteers continue to come from a wide range of personal, geographical, and professional backgrounds, bringing a breadth of skills, insight, and challenge to governing boards to help them make the right decisions for all pupils in their schools.

A lot of this is down to our fantastic School Governor Champions – employer partners who really see the social importance and CPD benefits of promoting school governance to their staff. Part of this though, is also down to the notable growth in a bold new generation of younger, diverse, governors (nearly a half of our placed governors are under 35 and over a third are from an ethnic minority).

This is a fearless generation, seamlessly taking up the governance baton (no relay mishaps here) in order to make their own contribution to civic leadership. Our latest case studies show the motivations bucking the volunteering trend and driving individuals to take up the mantle of being a school governor …

Take Jasmin Mensah, a secondary school teacher who has found the governor role offers the opportunity to champion diversity in schools. She says:

“For me it is really important, as a young Black woman, that I also sit on the governing body to help shape the school direction and also help others realise that there needs to be more diversity of backgrounds when it comes to decision making in schools.”

For Rupinder Sandhu, a lecturer from the Midlands, being part of the governing board has offered lots of different benefits. Rupinder says:

“I thought that it would be a great opportunity to engage with younger people to discuss the creative industries, which is what I teach in college. I also really liked the idea of giving back to my community through being a governor – it’s something that I’ve done through my role as a lecturer, as well as being involved in local projects – it was another way to help support and give back. I’ve loved every single bit of it, to be honest!”

The resounding message is loud and clear: younger governors are united by the desire to make a difference for the next generation and, whether they had a good experience of school or not, all are driven to make schools better. There are many benefits to be gained too – professional skills for their current roles; meeting fellow governors from all walks of life; a broader understanding of society, finance, policy, and politics; and a sense of giving something back to help future generations.

Many a time we’ve been in conferences where existing governors have said we need to target the next generation – so we’re hoping you can help us do just that. Young and young hearted…school governance needs you!

Read more about the role of school governor here