Giving pupils a fully rounded education and providing inspirational learning is the aim of Ridgeway High School, a maintained secondary school on the Wirral. With around 60% pupil premium and about half of pupils having special educational needs, the school has a strong focus on academic performance, engaging pupils in extra-curricular activities and devising an ‘exit strategy’ for every pupil so that they are well placed to begin life outside of school. The new academic year began by moving in to a brand new school – “It’s making a big difference for our pupils to learn in a new environment,” explains Michael McManus, Chair of Governors at Ridgeway High School.
After becoming chair in July 2017, one of Michael’s first tasks was to work with head teacher, Tony Taylor, to rebuild the governing board. The whole governing body was up for re-election due to a previous reconstitution of the governing body. At this time, all three co-opted governors chose to stand down. Michael was in a quandary – where to find replacement governors?
Learning about Inspiring Governance in an email forwarded by the school’s clerk, Michael signed up to search for governors. “My first port of call was Inspiring Governance and I decided to sign up just to see what was in the pot. If Inspiring Governance is finding people for us, why would I go out and do it myself? Where was I going to go? I needed the job done and the governing board strengthened as soon as possible,” Michael says.
Using Inspiring Governance, Michael found 20 local volunteers interested in becoming governor. “I needed governors with the personality, background, attributes and approach to support a school facing challenges in meeting government learning targets,” says Michael. “I invited 12 people and received a positive response from five.” Following a visit to the school by four of the volunteers to ensure it was right for them, three were still interested in joining the governing board.
The three volunteers Michael connected with through Inspiring Governance have now been co-opted, and are undertaking a ‘programme of involvement’ by linking up with more experienced governors on the board. “I’m very happy with the appointments. They’ve brought a new energy to the group as well as having a genuine interest in young people, and knowledge and skills to share,” Michael says. “One is an experienced governor of a primary school, another is an experienced lecturer in one of the city’s universities with a background in engineering, research engineering education and quality assurance, and one works for a large civil service organisation bringing relevant experience of training and industry.”