David Coe is an Enterprise Coordinator at The North East Local Enterprise Partnership who work with partners to develop a more competitive economy for the North East and help to create more and better jobs for everyone. We spoke to David about his role as a governor at Walkergate Community School where he has been in post since October 2020 (right in the middle of the pandemic), the benefits he has experienced so far and why he would recommend the role.
What initially made you decide to volunteer as a school governor?
A couple of my colleagues did a presentation to the organisation to promote the role of a volunteer school governor, and they were incredibly enthusiastic and positive about their experiences which really made me consider it for myself. I could see the role would provide really good experience, something different that could help to develop skills that would be of benefit for both my CV and the future. I’ve worked in education for many years and really enjoy working with and for young people, so the role appealed to me in that sense too.
What skills and insight have you brought to the governing board from your background at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership?
Initially I worried whether I would add value to the board, but after a couple of governor meetings we started to discuss a school development plan and talk about what the school’s aims were for embedding careers, which is where I felt I could use my knowledge and give a different perspective. I had some really good conversations with other board members and offered insight and advice into how embedding careers at a primary school might be approached. The perception is that talking about career choices at such a young age isn’t productive, but actually there’s a large scale pilot study going on in the North East that shows it can be really effective. I’ve been able to draw on my knowledge to have conversations around the approach and suggest activities and resources to support the plan.
What have been the personal benefits of volunteering as a governor for you so far?
It has definitely had a positive impact on my own skill set. I wanted to develop my experience of strategic thinking and I knew that the governor role would provide that.
Being inside the school environment also gave me a real insight into the experiences of school staff and children. Having the opportunity to speak to lots of different people from the community who are involved with the school, to hear their experiences has really been of benefit as it’s allowed me to see life from a different perspective.
If you could bust one myth about being a school governor, what would it be?
One of the stereotypes you might have is that a school governing board are a mysterious bunch who sit in isolation away from the school, making their decisions in isolation from the school and staff. But actually, the governing body has a genuine line of communication with the school and the staff which is welcomed by staff. Also, a lot of people think you need to have a teaching background, which is definitely not the case! I’ve had the warmest welcome from governors who come from a variety of professional backgrounds, as well as the staff.
Would you recommend the role of school governor to others?
Definitely! For me, once I had a tour of the school, any fears I had disappeared and I knew I had made a great decision. It was great actually seeing the school and the work that the young people have produced – it made it real for me. Having that overview and insight into a school is really, really interesting and gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation is such a benefit. Meeting and working with other governors, parents, local businesses and other members of the community can mean you meet some really interesting people, as I have. I would absolutely recommend it.”
Would you like to get involved and help young people get the best start in life?Read more about the role of school governor here