Do you want to make a difference in your local community or, have you ever wondered about the possibility of becoming a school governor? Maybe you’ve been hesitant to apply because of how complicated the governance landscape feels, or you’ve thought you lacked the experience for the position?
Many myths exist when talking about governance, for example that to become a school governor, there is an expectation that you have worked in the education sector, or are at a particular level in your career. Throughout this blog, we’ll dispel these myths and explain some of the benefits of taking up the role.
What school governors actually do
School governors oversee the management of a school. Put simply, they look at strategy, policy, budgeting, and staffing. They work with senior leaders within a school to achieve this, and also support teachers with the goal of providing the highest quality education to the children in their care.
Becoming a school governor requires working directly with the headteacher and the rest of the board to set strategic goals. School governors will attend governing board meetings to discuss and monitor a range of issues including the vision for the school, educational outcomes, mitigating financial risk, and much more.
These meetings allow school governors to enact their main responsibilities which are:
- Ensuring strategic direction, vision and ethos.
- Holding executive leaders to account.
- Overseeing financial performance and ensuring money is well spent.
It’s important to remember that much of what you learn as a school governor is learnt on the job. Schools don’t expect school governors to know everything about their community or governance upon starting the role. Experienced governors learn new information in every meeting they attend.
The requirements of becoming a school governor
There are no defined requirements to the school governor role other than being over the age of 18. Most people can become school governors regardless of their experience level. One common myth is that you must be a parent/guardian, or have worked in education to become a governor – this is not true.
Governing boards are looking for people with different skills and lived experience as school governors often bring expertise from their work-life into a governing board. Schools benefit from working with these type of skilled volunteers. Those with a background in finance, law, premises management, and/or human resources for example are often desired for their business know-how.
This being said, governing boards are looking for people of all skill and experience levels. More than anything, they look for softer skills such as communication, negotiation, and even knowledge of the community the school is situated in. As such, whether you have just started your career, or are in a senior position, we would encourage you to apply.
What are the benefits of becoming a school governor?
School governors provide a high level of support and critique to the senior leaders in the school, working as a governing board to shape the direction of a school’s vision. Getting involved in appraising headteachers, analysing data, and monitoring stakeholder wellbeing, allows you to develop important leadership skills you can take into your career. Other benefits of becoming a school governor may include:
- Shaping children’s futures and making a difference in your community.
- Gaining and developing leadership skills at board level.
- Using the lived experience you have gained to bring unique perspectives to the governing of a school.
- Allowing voices from marginalised communities to be represented to create more diversity within the school.
- Gaining networking opportunities to connect with people who work in the same and different fields to yourself.
How does Governors for Schools work with prospective school governors?
Governors for Schools is a charity which finds, matches and supports school governors onto school boards. We have a partnership team who operate across England and Wales whose job it is to take away all the pressure of finding a school. We support governors throughout their whole journey, ensuring both parties (school governor and school) are happy with the placement.
The support we offer doesn’t stop once a governor has been placed. We have a dedicated archive of free resources on our website which school governors can take advantage of to make their learning even easier. Governors for Schools also run campaigns to provide school governors with details on specific topics within the governance landscape. Our ‘Inclusive Governance’ campaign for example is designed to provide school governors with information on inclusion, equality, and diversity within the governance landscape.
Find out more
More information about the role of a school governor can be found here. We also run regular ‘Introduction to Governance’ webinars to teach prospective governors about the role. If you would like to apply, you can also click here to find our application form.