School: Critchill School, Frome, Somerset. This is a school for children with special educational needs.
Occupation: I’m completing the final year of my degree and then plan to train with Teach First and become a teacher myself.
For how many years: 5 years. I joined the governing body when I was 19 years old.
Current position on the board: Co-Chair of Governors, Chair of the Teaching and Learning sub-committee and Chair of HR sub-committee.
Why did you become a governor?
I was working shifts in quality control at a cider making company and wanted to do something with my non-working time. Someone I knew told me about being a governor and persuaded me to apply.
In what way has your governing board contributed to the success of the school?
Recently we’ve been able to help the school financially after governor leadership monitoring led to a review of HR policies. Also, our Chair of Governors helped develop a relationship with the Town Council that the school has really taken advantage of. This has provided great work experience for our pupils, improved our relationships and integration with the wider community, and allowed people to better understand what we do as a special school.
What skills and experiences have helped you in the role?
It’s important to be prepared to listen and to learn. My previous job was about monitoring processes and long-term planning, which has proved invaluable. Also, I think being younger has helped as I’ve not been afraid to ask the ‘stupid’ questions.
How has being on the board benefited you personally or professionally?
The benefit has been immense. It has given me opportunities to gain experience in things I wouldn’t have otherwise done so early in my career. For example, chairing meetings, being part of an interview process, and overseeing budgets. More than anything though the job is rewarding and being part of a school community is fun and challenging.
What would you say to other young people thinking about becoming a school governor?
I’d say try it. You don’t need to be an expert as you’ll get training and be guided by people with specialist knowledge. I found the role instantly rewarding, interesting and surprising. Also, it doesn’t take up as much time as you might think. I like the flexibility, you don’t need to commit to the same day every week and it fits in with any other interests you have.
What are the differences (if any) of being a governor of a special school?
I don’t think there are fundamental differences for the governing body: the schools often have smaller cohorts, funding works differently and the approach to learning is unique. But you’re given support to understand those differences, so you don’t need expert knowledge of children with special educational needs you should just want to make a difference.
Ultimately, both mainstream and special schools are looking for governors who will engage and want to enact positive change.
What have been the highlights?
Definitely seeing the difference we’ve made to the young people who attend the school and being able to support the school community.