Honey Fafowora is a Lead Policy Analyst at the Bank of England. She was appointed as a school governor through our service in January 2020, and sat on the board of Robert Barclay Academy until January 2024. We spoke to her about her school governance journey, why she became a school governor, some highlights from her time in the role, and what she’d say to anyone considering it.


Tell us a little about your school:

Robert Barclay Academy is a secondary school based in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire. When I joined the school in early 2020, it was considered as ‘Requires Improvement’ by Ofsted. The school had to do some work to get to the same level of other more highly rated academies in the trust. The school was revisited in March 2023 by Ofsted and judged to be ‘Good’, which was fantastic to see and a source of great pride to all involved with the school.

It is a school that serves its local community well. From the conversations and interactions that I had, I always got the impression that the teachers and support staff really do care about their students. This extended to what was going on at home with them, and it is clear the school’s branches extended outwards beyond the classroom itself. As an example, there has been a significant increase in the number of people who put the school down as first or second choice, which I believe is demonstrative of the good impression locals and others have of the school.

At a parent’s evening towards the end of my term, some of my fellow school governors also reported parents had approached them saying that they’d heard about the school from a friend or acquaintance, and would love their child to go there. Some of these families were based in Enfield – or further afield – showing how desirable the school had become; the school is a supportive place and, with outcomes improving, parents feel it’s a safe environment for their children to learn and grow in.


What motivated you to become a school governor?

Formal education is something that I have always really enjoyed at a personal level, and I believe in the benefits. While there are many different routes through which people can grow or develop, I felt that I did not want people to underestimate the amount you can learn at school and not fully engage as a result.

Schools offer so many different ways in which young people can develop themselves and provide the opportunity to become interested in different educational areas and walks of life. The driving force for me initially wanting to become a school governor was to be this person who was not super far away from the age of some of the students at the school and could understand their perspectives a little better. I have solid memories of my time at school, and what I did and did not like in my own education. As a result, I tried to make suggestions with those memories and experiences in mind.

I wanted to make sure that my perspective was present, and becoming a school governor allowed me to communicate that at a strategic level and ensure that a voice like mine was contributing to and influencing decisions. Even as someone who does not currently have children, volunteering as a school governor allowed me to tick off the need I feel internally to make meaningful contributions to my local community. Society is changing, and quickly, and it is so important that children have a safe space where their intellectual curiosity is channelled in the right way. Being a school governor allowed me to help ensure they are being supported to understand and expand their horizons.


Has there been a particular highlight in your four years in governance?

It was definitely the Ofsted inspection that saw the school improve to a ‘Good’ rating. There is an incredible chair of governors at the school – she is incredible, I would call her a superwoman and she does so much for the school. She has been a fantastic role model and is someone to really aspire to in terms of being a good school governor. Working closely with her and other school governors was a real highlight of my time there.

When it came to the recent Ofsted inspection – which the school had been thinking about and working towards for a long time – Dawn was keen to ensure all the hard work from teachers was recognised. School governors were interviewed as well as the teaching staff of the school. Being trusted to be part of the team that met the Ofsted inspectors and talked to them about the school was a source of great personal pride.

I sometimes felt guilty as I work in the city and was not always able to be at the school in person as much as I might’ve liked. The Ofsted experience, however, showed how close we had become as a team of school governors, and the faith that we had in each other as well as the work of the school. Dawn’s leadership was a key part of driving this sense of our collective mission, and the improved rating was a great moment for the school.

How relevant were your professional skills to what you contributed as a school governor? Did your governance role help sharpen any of these?

There’s an extent to which my professional skills were not as applicable as I thought they might have been. I work in a niche institution in the financial sector and within that, a really niche area / team, so there was limited technical knowledge I could bring to the school directly. With that said, in working for the Bank, I had developed strong verbal communication skills – which was a key element of being able to do my role well. That translated in my contributions to governing board meetings, so I think soft skills were very helpful. That included the ability to digest dense and complicated information and make sense of it, and then being able to have an engaged conversation about it – both are important skills to have as a school governor.

In terms of whether – and how – being a school governor has helped me to develop professionally, my answer would be that it absolutely has. Being able to engage with a complex institution, like a school, at a strategic level has been hugely beneficial. I was at an earlier stage of my career than others on my governing board, however, my voice was equal to theirs and held just as much weight. I saw my actions taken up, and followed up on, and felt confident that people took me seriously. This helped me in the workplace, in terms of interacting with people much more senior than me. It improved my ability to develop and communicate a view, stand by it and to speak credibly to my belief. I definitely feel that I am a more confident professional for having been a school governor for four years.

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a school governor?

If you have an interest whatsoever in shaping the minds of tomorrow, whilst you’re still a mind of tomorrow yourself, then it is something that you should consider. School governance is something that could be easy to put off, but most people only get busier as life progresses. If you have an interest in it, why not get involved?

I would recommend speaking to other school governors you may know, to find out what they like about the role, what they have learnt, and how they have approached affecting change within their school or setting. I have often spoken to others about my role and enjoy finding out random colleagues either are or have also been school governors.

There are so many ways you can have influence in the role and an endless variation of conversations you will get to be a part of. If you care about finding people-oriented solutions, then go for it. I would caveat that slightly in that there is a time commitment that must be made if you are going to do the role well, as being a good school governor requires you to learn and understand what is being spoken about in the school. Either way, I personally have zero regrets about becoming a school governor.


Start your own school governance journey today

Why not find out more about the role? You can also book on to one of our upcoming ‘Introduction to Governance’ webinars to learn more about this opportunity. Alternatively, if you’re ready to apply, fill out our quick application form and start your school governance journey today.