Barr’s Hill School

By Tony Fitzpatrick
Chair of Governors
Barr’s Hill School, Coventry

A few months ago I was sent a guidance paper that made me chuckle. It was on how to arrange an interview panel for prospective school governors. The idea that my small, inner city secondary school should have enough people queuing up to become a governor such that we actually had a choice was rather laughable.

Finding governors is hard – our local catchment area includes some areas of significant economic deprivation with a wide ethnic and cultural mix. The governors we have are dedicated and hardworking, but we do have some serious skill shortfalls and typically have had at least three vacant positions. There are relatively few professional people living nearby, and amongst the local communities there is little experience of voluntary activity on public bodies.

After listening to Emma Knights of the NGA present on the Inspiring Governance service, I was keen to see whether this might be a solution to our recruitment problem – and I’m pleased to say it has made a huge difference.

The service has provided us with a way of discovering people city-wide and beyond who are looking for a governor’s role. I was delighted at the number of people putting themselves forward and the relative ease of contacting them. In particular it was helpful to match gaps in our skill assessment to the skills the individuals put in their personal profiles. We have also received some excellent support from the support staff behind the service.

From our recent experience, we strongly recommend this service. To date we have contacted eight possible governors using Inspiring Governance. They live within a ten-mile radius of school, and have jobs that cross a variety of educational and other professional disciplines.

We have already appointed one, passed one onto the CEO of our MAT as a possible new trustee, and we have active discussions with four others. Of the four we are potentially looking to appoint two. Maybe we will need to consider setting up an interview panel after all!