Using Inspiring Governance to meet governor recruitment needs in a multi academy trust

David Linsell
Director of Local Governance, Procedure Support and Communications
The Kemnal Academies Trust

Since 2010, the Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT) has recruited over 30 people to their local governing bodies using Inspiring Governance. As a multi academy trust (MAT) with over 40 schools across the south of England, the trust benefited from Inspiring Governance’s features designed especially to support those recruiting for vacancies in multiple schools.

“When you are dealing with lots of vacancies, all your schools are listed and it’s so easy to click and see the volunteers that are available in the local area,” says David Linsell, who is Director of Education with trust-wide responsibility for local governance at TKAT. “It’s not difficult to learn how to use the platform; the software is easy to use and it has really good features.” David says it takes around 15 minutes to process an opportunity on the platform and when volunteers reply with the required information, David assesses the application and puts those he would be happy to consider in touch with the recruiting school. “If there are multiple volunteers or someone with specific skills that I’d be happy to appoint, I can also put them in touch with appropriate schools within the trust who could benefit from their expertise,” David adds.

“I would offer two key pieces of advice when recruiting,” says David. “Firstly, widen the radius of your search and leave your vacancy open for longer to get the right people.” TKAT have filled every vacancy they had through Inspiring Governance, and have found that volunteers “aren’t bothered about distance, it’s time that matters.” David’s second piece of advice is when recruiting governors, it is important that they visit the school. “On paper, the whole process can feel really formal but capturing their interest by having them visit the school and putting them with pupils means that they’ll be yours,” says David.

In recruiting for a MAT, David has found that there are two types of volunteer who want to be school governors. “Some volunteers are only interested in a particular school or community governance model,” David explains. “However, there are also lots of volunteers who have an interest in education and a desire to be more strategic who are willing to govern in any setting.” David finds that Inspiring Governance gives access to volunteers of both types.

Inspiring Governance is used flexibly across the trust. “Some schools use it themselves – they know they have or will have a vacancy and they deal with it,” says David. Many schools in the trust contact David with their needs, and David enters the platform using a single account to search for volunteers local to the school or to set up an opportunity that volunteers on the platform can then apply for. As the trust spans several areas, David says that “there is a very good pool of volunteers in most places” but that where there are issues, Inspiring Governance’s regional managers can help.”

To get a diverse pool of governors, David says, it is important to be flexible in your approach to governance. “Governance is about asking questions and holding to account, people don’t necessarily have to be there in the room, but they must know the school.” For example, TKAT asks that its local governors visit the school two or three times a year, but this does not have to be at a governing board meetings. They can, for example, get involved by conference call. “Just because they can’t be there in person doesn’t mean they aren’t committed to the school. They can dial in and visit at other times.” David says. “Good people are busy people. We need to acknowledge that and be flexible.”

Summarising the trust’s use of Inspiring Governance, David says, “we use Inspiring Governance exclusively as it meets all our needs. The support from the National Governance Association is valuable and all our new governors complete the eight modules on Learning Link for their induction.”

The trust has recently extended its use of Inspiring Governance by tapping in to the Future Chairs recruitment service. David explains, “one of our schools has a long standing chair but they know that they will stand down in the next two years. They have taken time to find someone new, and the governing board has made direct contact with Future Chairs. It is a nice model to have someone not necessarily with education experience but has two years to learn who is willing to come in to a school. It’s a good thing.”