A school board functions best with a variety of professional backgrounds and lived experiences around the table. But while finance, HR, and legal skills are all great additions, they’re not the only skills boards need.

It’s true that the most requested skills from schools are finance, education, and HR. Headteachers and the school leadership team often aren’t experts in finance and HR, so governors that bring these skills provide a great support.

However, boards also need skills in areas you perhaps wouldn’t expect. Construction and premises, health and safety, safeguarding – these are all vital to the safe and effective running of a school.

Soft skills play a large role in a board’s success too. Being able to communicate well, negotiate and lead, as well as work as part of a team, are all key things governors must be able to demonstrate.

A large part of the role of a governor is to ask challenging questions and dig for more clarity when needed. Balancing support with challenge can be difficult in itself, so governors must be confident in their approach and understand that asking sometimes uncomfortable questions is a key part of the job.

How do governors use their skills in practice?

The governing board works together to hold the school leadership to account. In practice, this looks like preparing for meetings by reading all the documentation and making note of questions to ask, visiting the school by going on learning walks, and being vocal in meetings, pushing for clarity when a point isn’t clear.

As a governor, there is opportunity to put specialist skills to good use. Governors with experience in finance will likely join the Finance committee, where they can discuss in detail the school budget, track spending, and plan for the future. Governors with experience in HR may join hiring panels and take part in interviews, and support the headteacher with any disciplinary action.

For those with experience in marketing or communications, they might help update the school website, or read and edit policies so they’re clearer.

Whatever your skillset, there will be a role on a governing board that suits you.

Interested in learning more?

Find out more about what the role entails and how to apply.