Name: Joshua Irish
Job: Management Consultant at PWC
School name: Jubilee Primary school and St Monica’s Catholic Primary school
Time as governor: Three months.
Joshua Irish is sitting on the board of governors for two of his local schools in Hackney and is on the resources committee for both. After registering with Inspiring Governance, he was contacted by both schools to help and couldn’t turn either of them down, knowing his skills as a management consultant would benefit both.
“In my job I have to be quite analytical and see what is key information that we need to take on board or anything that stands out that we need to follow up further. It’s my role to then make recommendations of some sort, which is similar to the role of a governor,” Joshua explains.
At work, he is used to analyse data and information, so can do this for the schools when they provide updates on their progress. “It’s my role to challenge, speak out, query or even just get some more information on other aspects,” says Joshua. “The Head might have put forward a proposal for the stuff that they want to do. Then it’s up to governors to listen to their plans and give a recommendation or a vote of confidence.”
Joshua is sitting on the resources committee, for both schools and is therefore very involved with the school finances. “I’m working on finance projects at work, so the two roles are actually strengthening each other,” he says. ““It’s a good symbiotic relationship. I’m taking the learning from my job in finance and business processes and I can apply it to the schools. At work I’m looking more at the inefficiencies of businesses, but not the granularity. It’s nice I can go to the school and get hands on with the numbers, almost line by line.”
Joshua is also finding his governance is helping him get ahead at work too. “I’m going through a promotion process at work and one area I wanted to get specialised in was finance, which means going through the CIMA qualification,” he says. “I’m at the foundation level of that at the moment and getting my hands-on papers from the school is almost real life practise. They’re both feeding each other. I can take information I’ve learned from work and I can shape certain things on the school accounts. And by looking at the school accounts it gives me a deeper understanding at work.”
Funding is a big issue for many schools, but St Monica’s has a specific problem in that their
School building is quite old. Unexpected costs such as plumbing and sewage add up year on year, and are an ongoing problem which is not going to be fixed. “I’m able to help with the planning and suggestions on how they might invest the budget in improvements.”
At Jubliee Primary, Joshua is also using his financial expertise to influence the way the school has been raising money for school trips. “There are core initiatives such as a year 6 trip and they’ll go to the PTA to ask for funds,” explains Joshua. “I suggested we should come up with a way of prioritising from our end which trips, excursions or initiatives are core and finding a concise way of pricing it. We need to decide how much the school is going to pay and how much we’re going to ask for from the PTA or parents. We don’t want to keep going to PTA in an uncoordinated way.”
Joshua was recommended governance by a friend and found the Inspiring Governance a good support when he applied through their website and was sent some information packs.
“I do recommend it to others,” says Joshua. “They’ll find a lot of the skills they have from their world of work will be transferable.
“You can help work through the school’s problems with them. Sometimes you might get worried about giving the wrong advice but at the end of the day you’re a collective group and it’s really about diversity of opinion”.
“I would encourage everyone to become a governor. It’s a good way to develop your skills and confidence outside of your area of work and is really beneficial to your community.Sign up to be a governor