A governor journey through the last two decades
Eileen Brocklehurst is the Inspiring Governance Regional Manager for the South-West. She lives and governs in a local primary school in Dorset. In our latest regional manager blog, Eileen tells the story of her journey as a school governor through the last two decades.
”My journey as a school governor has been a long one. I’ve volunteered 3 times at 3 very different primary schools in 3 different local authorities, twice as a parent governor and now as a Local Authority governor at a medium sized primary school in Dorset.
My first experience of the role was way back at the start of this century. This makes it seem a long time ago and the role has certainly changed in the last 20 years. Meetings then were informal and I recall being involved in more operational issues like planning the school’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
My second experience was more closely aligned to the core purpose that we understand today. In meetings we looked at data, school finance, the curriculum and had responsibility for specific areas such as pupil attainment, literacy and numeracy.
A strategic role
Fast forward another 10 years and when I joined my current governing board I discovered the role had changed again. Meetings are much better structured with papers and agendas sent out two-weeks in advance (well mostly); new members are interviewed and are assigned a more experienced governor as a mentor for their first few months; there is a role description, clear lead roles, training and the roles of chair and clerk are recognised as crucial to the efficient running of the board. The role is very much strategic. Although all these experiences have been as different as the schools themselves there have been some common themes.
Every time, the governing board has been made up of friendly and supportive people with a genuine interest in the school and the local community. Equally, each board has been interested in ensuring pupils had a great experience and left the school having received the best possible education with a strong foundation for the future. All of us happy to give up our time to do this.
There have been significant personal gains too.
I originally became a governor as I wanted to be involved in the school my son was attending and to find out as much as I could about how education had changed since I was at school in the 1960’s and 70’s (a lot as it happens).
The role certainly did this but so much more. I’m convinced that the increased confidence gained from being part of a multi-disciplinary group of people helped me in my career. The ability to look at data or a budget spreadsheet and ask probing questions and the ability to listen to different views have all been developed through being a school governor. Reviewing and understanding school policies helped me when it came to needing to write my own.
Equally importantly the role helped me appreciate and develop existing skills.
For me these included safeguarding, performance management and contributing to strategic development planning. I have always felt my contribution was valued while learning new skills and developing existing ones in a different context. And through it all feeling I am making a difference to outcomes for pupils. I suspect there are few voluntary opportunities that achieve all of this.’’
Would you like to follow in Eileen’s footsteps and volunteer as a school governor or trustee? Sign-up here and search for a governor vacancy in your area.