Helen Knowles – Regional Manager Blog

Why become a school governor? Helen Knowles, Inspiring Governance Regional Manager for the North West, explains all

Volunteering as a school governor provides a fantastic opportunity for people to give something back to their local community, improve the lives of young people, whilst gaining vital board level experience. But what does a school governor do?

Volunteering as a school governor is very different to working in a school. School Governors and Trustees are not involved in the daily operational leadership; we don’t choose what books the school buys or what lessons they teach, however we are involved in overseeing the school’s budget and scrutinising why the school makes a particular decision about the curriculum it teaches.

The role of the governor is to help to set the strategic direction of the school. And this strategic direction is reflected in the values, ethos, and culture of the school, which should be fully visible in the day-to-day.

Breaking some myths around school governance

To really understand the role of the governor, it’s important to break down some myths.

Firstly, you do not need to have children in the education system to become a governor. Governors come from all walks of life. They bring different skills and experiences and many choose to govern not only to offer the work skills they have, but to learn to apply those skills in a very different ‘business’ environment.

School Governors and Trustees have an opportunity to impact on the lives of young people through improving learning outcomes. With good strategic leadership, they can help make improvements to children’s life-chances and be part of the effort to enable young people to grow into citizens we can all be proud of in every community, no matter what the home background pupils may be from. For many, the reason they choose to become a School Governor is a strong desire to give back to or connect with their community. One of the best ways to do this and see the long-term impact, is to connect with schools that sit at the heart of a community.

In becoming a governor, you learn how schools fit into and support their community. You learn how they are managed and to better understand why they make the decisions they do for the betterment of young people. By being a school governor, you become part of the decision-making process, which is a very interesting and exciting process to be part of when you see your decisions implemented and measure their impact on the children’s learning.

Learning new skills

In becoming a governor, you will undoubtedly enhance and develop leadership skills and gain strategic experience from being active in the role.

From my perspective, governing gives me the opportunity to address gaps in my work experience, I have opportunities that I may not get in my current role such as managing large budgets and working strategically with financial data and, by sitting on the Finance Committee, I am able to  broaden my skill-set and add value to my employer for future roles.

As well as learning from others, I can share my skills and experience to mentor others who are new to the role, which is also very rewarding.

Seeing the bigger picture

Schools are increasingly seeking diverse boards who reflect the diversity of the school community but who also bring different experiences to add to the conversation and to the decision-making process.

I chose to govern in a school in an area where I could make the biggest difference; to be part of  community conversations that address the specific needs of all children and their families.

I particularly enjoy visits to the school to see the children. Seeing the board’s decisions make a difference in the day-to-day lives of the children is a joy to do and it certainly brings pages of policies and data to life!

Being part of the team that provides the strategic direction is an extremely rewarding way to volunteer your time and whilst much of how you develop as a governor comes from getting to know the board, the school, the community, and the staff, there is an abundance of free support to help you carry out the role, so that you learn and grow as a governor from doing the job’’.

If you are thinking of giving something back to the local community by volunteering as a School Governor or Trustee- Why not sign-up at www.inspiringgovernance.org/volunteers and look for a vacancy in your area.