Local skills discovered through Inspiring Governance as Carter Community School fills four vacancies

Cary Wicks
Chair of Governors
Carter Community School

Carter Community School’s governing body is excited about the future, with a five-year plan to become an ‘Outstanding’ school well underway, extensive new improvements to the building awaiting sign-off and summer 2017 delivering another strong set of exam results. Under the government’s new Progress 8 measure, Carter is now one of the best performing schools in the area. The smallest secondary school in Poole, with around 50% pupil premium and low prior attainment, Carter achieved a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating in early 2017. “We’re going from good to great,” explains Cary Wicks, Chair of Governors at the school.

Having carried three vacancies for more than a year, when one further governor stepped down, the governing board needed to recruit. “We were looking for a mix of people from a variety of backgrounds, all with something to bring to the board and the time to give – this is ultimately a team effort,” says Cary.

Receiving an email from the local governor services mentioning Inspiring Governance, and meeting a regional manager at a local governor event, Cary signed up to the service to search for new governors. “The regional manager was very supportive in encouraging and helping me to use the service. I found 20 people in my local area and read through their profiles,” says Cary. “I was looking for personal profiles that resonated with me in terms of knowledge, experience and enthusiasm. I identified seven people that I was really impressed with.”

Within three days, Cary had received five responses to her invitation. Whilst one volunteer turned down the opportunity due to an existing connection with a nearby school, the other four candidates responded positively. “I was hoping that I would be lucky enough to get one volunteer, but I was really impressed with the personality and skills of all the candidates,” explains Cary. “They were all interested and all wanted to become a governor of our school. They are all different but aware of the time commitment and more than happy to provide the necessary support.”

In October 2017, three of the candidates were appointed to the governing board, with the fourth appointed in early 2018. Carter Community School’s new governors certainly meet Cary’s stipulation of having something to bring and time to give. Describing the new appointments, Cary says: “One is an oil trader who has travelled the world and is keen to encourage more girls to study STEM subjects. Another is a system engineer who works for a local engineering company. It is great to have champions like these for STEM subjects and they are role models that our pupils might not have otherwise had access to. Our other recruits have equally great skills to offer as one has a background in Safeguarding and Welfare at a local apprenticeship provider and the other has a background in public health and now works in the finance sector.”

The new governors are already making the most of their role. “They have all attended their first meeting and joined committees, and they are already getting to know staff which I really encourage,” comments Cary. “Our new governors have already heard from the National Governance Association too about the support they will receive.

Following a successful experience with Inspiring Governance, Cary says: “New governors have previously been so difficult to get; here you get access to people you just don’t realise are part of your community. I have been spreading the word through my local Chairs’ Network and with our partner schools as part of United Learning. Overall, the service has been exceptional – not just in the quality of the people we have been able to recruit and their readiness to commit to the role, but also in the training support offered to them all by the National Governance Association.”