My name is Matt Scott, I’m a competition and regulatory lawyer working in London and I’m a foundation governor at All Saints Church of England Primary School in Cricklewood, North London. I’ve been in the post since May 2020, just as the pandemic hit – more on that later! As well as sitting on the Board of Governors, I also sit on the Teaching and Learning Committee, which is in charge of approving teaching curriculum matters such as pupil welfare, safeguarding and SEND provisions.
What inspired you to volunteer as a school governor?
While I was at law school I volunteered for the School Exclusion Project, a fantastic organisation that provides support to school pupils who have been permanently excluded from state schools all across the country by representing them in governing body and local authority hearings, and it gave me really good insight into learning about the kind of issues schools face and that governors deal with, and I thought I could see myself being on a governing board and using the skills I was learning to good effect.
I was also inspired by my mum who has always done a lot of local community work, which I’d been interested in exploring but wasn’t quite sure how best to get involved. I came across the Inspiring Governance website, signed up and received an invitation from a local school round the corner from where I grew up, which felt like a great opportunity.
What skills and insight have you brought to the governing board from your legal background?
As a lawyer, attention to detail is key and really useful in the governor role, for example when reviewing updates to policies and procedures. More generally, having experience of problem solving and managing challenging situations are transferable skills those with a legal background can offer – having a lawyer on the board can help to bring calm and focus when those challenging moments occur.
What have you taken from volunteering as a school governor back into your work setting and has it helped you in your role?
I volunteer alongside a priest, a head teacher, parents, a local councillor, and being amongst such a diverse group is fantastic preparation for working with people from a different range of backgrounds, including those that I wouldn’t necessarily come into contact with in my day job. It’s really interesting to hear and understand different perspectives, and it’s been of huge benefit in my working life.
What are the benefits of young people volunteering as a school governor?
I think you can provide a different perspective on certain topics and situations. I’ve been able to give a different opinion on matters such as social media use and bullying, to name just two. I am really proud to belong to a diverse governing board, where I can relate to the experiences of younger people and bring their perspective to the table.
If you could pick one highlight of your time as a school governor, what would it be?
Although a fairly stressful start, it has to be supporting the school during the COVID pandemic and throughout lockdown. The school had to act very quickly to put processes in place while the children were working from home, and once it opened again, put meticulous bubble systems in place. It really opened up my eyes to the commitment shown by all school staff to delivering education to the pupils in really difficult circumstances. I feel really fortunate to have been involved.
If you could bust one myth about being a governor, what would it be?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s a massive time commitment. At my school, we have five to six meetings a year and I manage to balance that with my working life well -as a lawyer, I work fairly long hours but I never feel that the governor commitment is a burden.
Would you recommend the role of school governor to others?
I would absolutely recommend it, in fact I do, regularly, to my friends! I think it’s good to have board members from a diverse range of backgrounds to bring different perspectives, so if you are a younger person, you can bring so much to the role. It feels great to support the local community, gain experience of working with the headteacher and teachers, and it’s definitely helped me with my job. I would say to any young person interested in the role: go for it!
Huge thanks to Matt for championing the role and getting his friends involved too!
Young people bring so much to the governing board, and there are so many benefits to getting involved. If you’d like to find out more, sign up today and view vacancies in your local area.Read more about the role of school governor here