We caught up with Bav Shah, a governor at Woodlands school in Luton and graduate of Nottingham Trent University, to hear about how he found the role and what motivates him to volunteer.

What’s your professional background?

I studied Real Estate Management at Nottingham Trent University and graduated in 2006. From 2006 to 2007 I was the Elected President of the Students Union, then later qualified as an RICS Chartered Surveyor. I’ve worked in the UK and Australia since. I recently set up Business Property Solutions, which is a bespoke consultancy for a variety of property/real estate matters.

What drew you to school governance?

I always thought school governors were parents so I never thought more about it. But then I learnt that that’s far from the case! I got involved after someone I know who’s a governor asked if I’d be interested in the role. I’ve done a lot of work with Youth Development and value the importance of education and giving children the right start and foundation in life, so it was naturally of interest. It’s a great way to try and add value to so many lives from a young age.

I was also on the Board of Governors for Nottingham Trent University when I was President of the Students Union in 2006/7 and other various advisory positions since. Governance is a great way to work with people who are passionate to make a positive change.

What’s the school you govern at like?

Woodlands is a Special Needs Provision School, so there are a number of sensitive and complex matters to deal with. Further circumstances need to be taken in to account when providing advice and making decisions. It was essential to understand things correctly.

How was your first governor meeting?

I’ve sat in thousands of meetings in my life, but just like anything new, I was a little nervous going into my first governor meeting. But the governors at Woodlands are great – they fully appreciated what it was like to be in your first meeting and brought me up to speed quickly.

How are you finding the role?

I’ve been a governor at Woodlands for just under a year now and I really enjoy the role. We have a range of people around the table at the meetings, and there are always some interesting discussions and debates. That’s what you’re there for – if everything got approved without questions or discussions, I don’t think we would be fulfilling our roles effectively.

I’m enjoying learning more about the operations of the school – there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that people wouldn’t realize. I sit on a number of sub committees where discussions have included everything from the long term strategic plan to school dinners!

Has being a school governor benefitted you professionally and/or personally?

You develop as an individual by becoming a governor. Through dealing with entirely new situations, I furthered my skills both competently and professionally. You could be reading reports, analysing budgets, looking at building floor plans amongst a whole range of other things… all your skills will get used at some point.

What would you say to anyone thinking about signing up as a school governor?

Even if you just have a slight interest in the role, explore it. Volunteering does take some time and commitment as you’ll need to attend meetings and review papers beforehand, but it’s worth it when you see the positive outcomes and progression the school makes. I’m more than happy to talk about my experience with anyone who’s thinking about the role.

Bav also spoke to Debbie Foolkes, the Headteacher of Woodlands Secondary School about the importance of school governors.

“The role of the governing board is crucial as it provides a body of people with a huge range of skills to support and challenge school leaders. A strong governing body will develop a deep understanding of the strengths and areas for development over time and use their skills and contacts to support the school to move forward. Good governors fulfil the role of critical friend and ensure that school leaders are held accountable.” Debbie Foolkes, Headteacher

We’re looking for a governor to join the board at Woodlands – if you’re local and interested in becoming a governor, please get in touch.

If you’re interested in becoming a governor, apply online. We’ll match your skills with a school in need.