“My name is Hannah Cummins, I am 24 years old, I work in the Skills Team at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and a local authority governor at a primary school in North Tyneside. My school is made up of pupils from 3-11 – there are 430 students currently enrolled in the school, and we have around 23% from disadvantaged backgrounds, 9% SEND students and 7% with English as a second language.
What made you initially decide to volunteer as a school governor?
I wanted to become a school governor because I’m really passionate about giving back to my local community and also working with people around me to improve my local area, to give back to schools and provide our young people with opportunities to improve their outcomes. I really wanted to become a governor of primary school as I felt it would enable me to broaden my professional knowledge base. Being a governor of primary school means I’ve now got a holistic view of the education sector which, without becoming a governor, I might not necessarily have had the opportunity to see.
What skills and insights have you brought to the governing board?
Working for the North East LEP I am involved in a lot of partnership work across different employer and education networks, I work with different employers and community organisations who are keen to engage with education and improve outcomes for young people, and I’ve been able to connect my school with some of these contacts. I’ve also been able to bring a different perspective to the curriculum and the development of certain areas of the strategic plan.
What skills have you taken from volunteering as a school governor back into your work setting?
I primarily work with secondary and post-16 students in my work role, and volunteering as a primary school governor has enabled me to gain a better view of different operational structures and needs. I think, especially in the line of work that we do, we’re always keen to help young people as much as we can, it doesn’t stop at the end of the nine-to-five day.
If you could bust one myth about being a school governor, what would it be?
Before I began my volunteer role, I wondered whether I was too young to become a governor, and if I had the required expertise a governing body needs. I wondered how other people on the board would feel about someone joining at the age of 23. I’m a real-life example to show other young people that you CAN volunteer as a school governor – we have a lot to offer!
Would you recommend the role of governor to others?
Absolutely – just get involved! It’s been one of the best things that I’ve ever done. I’ve enjoyed meeting new people – the senior leadership team, teachers, parents, and of course, the lovely students, but I’ve also been able to develop my personal skill set and my understanding of policies and structures within primary education that I wouldn’t have necessarily been able to do otherwise.”