With the launch of our new campaign Challenge Accepted, our CEO Hannah Stolton explains why we’re calling for experienced professionals to volunteer their skills as governors or trustees – and how we’re doing it.  

Diversity on governing boards is important. We’re continuing to see people of different ages, professional backgrounds, and ethnicities apply for the governor role, which is fantastic. But school boards also need a diversity of skills to ensure they’re equipped with the broad range of knowledge needed to make robust decisions.

So why have we launched a campaign called Challenge Accepted – and what are we hoping to achieve?

We know that many people – even highly qualified professionals – simply aren’t aware that being a school governor is something they can do. We’re encouraging people with the right skills, and time to give, to step up to the challenge. We’re doing this by:

  • Tackling confusion about multi-academy trusts (MATs)

MATs are becoming an increasingly large part of the education landscape, but many people don’t understand what a MAT is, how they’re run, and what the structure looks like.

When we surveyed MATs last year, we noted that they varied in how they were set up. Some delegated a great deal of responsibility to individual schools, while others only a little. When we place governors into trustee roles, we aim to help them to understand the scheme of delegation at the trust they are joining. While many volunteers have a wealth of relevant experience, I’ve noticed that often, they aren’t clear on, or even aware of, the role of trustee in the school system.

As part of the Challenge Accepted campaign, we want to show people what the trustee role entails. It’s a hugely rewarding position, both in terms of what the board can achieve in improving outcomes for children and young people, but also because volunteers are involved in making high-level decisions.

  • Breaking down barriers to entry

Speaking to case studies as part of the campaign, we found a common theme. Almost all our volunteers told us that to begin with, they didn’t know their business skills – be it marketing, finance, or HR – were useful to a school. These senior people with lots of relevant experience didn’t realise they could bring huge value. Their skills are exactly what schools are crying out for – and it proved to us that there’s still a great deal of work to do to make the opportunity known to more people.

  • Giving people the inspiration to take on a new challenge

Through the campaign we also wanted to highlight how much volunteers stand to benefit from the role, even for those in the later stages of their careers, or looking ahead to retirement. As one of our volunteers said, after 20 years working in a sector, you can feel like you’re stagnating. Volunteering in a governor role gives people the chance to use skills that may have been dormant for years, or to gain experience outside their job description, challenging them in a new way.

Schools need skilled governors – but they also need people with the time to commit. We see many volunteers pursuing the governor role because a change in their work pattern gives them more time to spare.

  • Empowering people to translate their ideas into action

It’s no secret that schools are facing challenges, especially around funding. We’re urging those who are concerned about education to volunteer their time and expertise to help schools navigate modern challenges.

Would you like to encourage more people to step up to the challenge and become a governor? Share the campaign on your social channels and help get the message out to more people.