Celebrating Inspiring Governance: our campaigns

The Inspiring Governance (IG) recruitment service will sadly close on September 30th this year. Whilst this is not a moment of celebration, we want to celebrate all that the IG service has achieved over the last 8 years through our staff working diligently with partners to make a positive change in the governance of schools.

During our time helping schools and academies recruit volunteers to their boards, it has been especially important for us to ensure the right blend of skills, expertise, and experience takes its’ seat at the governing board table. There are two campaigns that stand out for us that we would like to celebrate and say a huge thank you to all the committed partners, supportive organisations, and exceptional individuals that have helped to amplify their important messages for us – you know who you are!

In 2018 and in partnership with the National Governance Association, we launched our Everyone on Board campaign, specifically created to diversify school and academy governing boards.

Our joint aim was clear: according to the NGA’s annual school governance survey that year, only 4% of governors came from a Black or global majority background, with 10% aged under 40 and only 1% of all governors aged under 30. Together we wanted to re-shine a spotlight on this imbalance and communicate the vital need for better age and race representation around the board table – as others before us had done and continue to do so.

Our aim was to encourage individuals from a broad range of backgrounds, ages and experiences to sign up to volunteer through Inspiring Governance, and to challenge governing boards themselves to ensure they had the ‘right people around the table’.

The campaign featured six serving governors sharing their personal experiences of becoming governors in local schools, highlighting both the benefits and importance of having a diverse governing board so that the people making decisions about schools reflected the communities they serve. You can watch the original campaign video produced by the NGA here.

We didn’t stop there; in 2023, despite over a third of Inspiring Governance’s governor appointments coming from an ethnic minority and nearly half being under 35 years old, the country’s changing demographics continued to show a widening imbalance of those making and implementing decisions in schools and those on the receiving end of them.

We needed to reach a new generation. Our new campaign featured four brilliant school governors – Bola-Alysia, Jasmin, Justin and Meera – talking about why volunteering in the role is important to them, the benefits the role brings – and why others should consider joining them. You can watch the video here.

This time, we also highlighted that this under-representation risked a huge loss of professional skills and life experience that could otherwise help schools, precisely at a time when over three quarters (77%) of governing boards were reporting they were experiencing their greatest challenges with governor recruitment to date. With further government studies showing general volunteering at its lowest level since 2013, we knew that achieving more representative boards of the communities that schools serve is as essential as it is just.

Research has consistently shown that diverse governing boards function better, they cover all the angles, and they help schools fulfil their strategic role on race. We are proud to have worked with partners to help many young and Black and global majority volunteers find roles in local schools to help all our children and young people get the best start in life.

Another campaign we are especially proud of is Educators on Board, also launched jointly in partnership with the National Governance Association. Our data (and subsequent DfE research in 2020), showed that skills and knowledge of the education sector were much sought after by school and academy governing boards.

Thus, we aimed to inspire teachers, school leaders, and others working at all layers in the education sector to find out more about the benefits of volunteering as school governors. We particularly wanted to spotlight the huge ‘win-win’ for teachers and aspiring school leaders in terms of the expertise they can bring to other schools and the significant CPD opportunity that becoming a governor could bring them professionally.

We were delighted to welcome large numbers of educators to the Inspiring Governance platform who went on to become governors and share their valuable expertise within another local school. Bridget Ampofo told us: “Volunteering has given me an opportunity to further develop my leadership skills and to network with others from different professions and different walks of life – it’s great to learn from others who have a common interest in education to share different perspectives.”

Support for the campaign came from a wide range of organisations, networks and associations, such as:

  • LA governor services who work tirelessly to promote and support the governance role.
  • Professional Associations like ASCL and the NAHT who promoted governance to their school leader members as a great CPD opportunity.
  • Staff becoming governors from the Department for Education, Independent schools, exam boards, and a wide range of education sector charities like Ambition Institute and Teach First.
  • FE colleges and universities who became part of our School Governor Champions initiative.
  • Academy Trusts like Astrea and Nexus who also became School Governor Champions to encourage their own staff to govern in local schools outside their trust.

And of course, the thousands of individual school leaders, teachers and education professionals who volunteered for the role through Inspiring Governance and other routes.

Overall, over 2,000 professionals from all layers of the education system – including from DfE policy/delivery teams through to class teachers – became governors. This has helped school governing boards access this vital expertise, but it has also helped professionals across the education sector reflect and improve their practice in the day job!

We are proud to have run these campaigns and proud of the contribution they have made to the expertise and experience accessed by governing boards. Thank-you again to all the brilliant individuals and organisations who have got behind them. We know they will have led to better, more informed decisions for the children in our schools.

In the meantime, we remain absolutely committed to delivering the very best service possible for you, right until the very last day of our DfE contract on 30th September. Whether you are looking for governors for your board, or you wish to volunteer, sign in to our platform here.