Governors for Schools is delighted to share the fantastic news that we’ve just placed our 100th volunteer governor in a Welsh School, marking an exciting milestone in our recent expansion. To celebrate, we caught up with Nader Rameshni, one of our newly placed Welsh governors, to hear about his first-hand experiences in the role. Please note we have also published a Welsh language version of this article.
Tell us a bit about yourself
“I work for Deloitte in public sector consulting and have been with the firm for about three years. Prior to joining, I had a varied career in both the public and private sectors, including 16 years in the Armed Forces, time living and working overseas, and a period of running my own business. I was brought up on a farm in West Wales and, after much gallivanting, I’ve settled back in the lush green of the Celtic countryside. I’m married with three children who are now nearing the end of their secondary education and who my wife and I have had to guide through multiple education systems both in the UK and abroad.“
Tell us a little about your school
“I am a governor at a local village primary school located in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. There are around 120 pupils and the school covers Key Stages 1 and 2. It’s a Welsh medium school which aligns with Welsh government strategy to promote the language nationally. This means the administrative and day-to-day business of the school is conducted in Welsh, including communication between pupils. Every effort is made to accommodate and integrate English speakers and a lot of activity is actually undertaken in dual languages. However, it does bring a few extra challenges for some pupils, teachers, and parents. The upside is that many children find themselves bilingual at a fairly early age.“
What motivated you to become a school governor?
“I grew up in a very rural area where life and career choices were, frankly, quite limited. Educational aspirations and achievement, fuelled by my teachers and family, gave me access to a whole host of life options and choices which would have otherwise remained closed. I feel that rural communities are often overlooked or deprioritised when it comes to policy and funding. This problem can disadvantage whole generations of children. Lacking examples of what is possible, young people’s aspirations are unlikely to change from generation to generation. Having bucked the trend somewhat myself and now finding myself living back home in the same environment, I very much wanted to make myself accessible to others (i.e. parents and pupils), and provide some new thinking or fresh expertise to help tackle challenges faced by leadership teams in local schools.”
How did you find the Governors for Schools application process?
“Very easy, actually. Governors for Schools is nicely interfaced with my company, so I was able to have quite a lot of input into what sort of school and geography I was interested in. They’ve been very supportive throughout and provide a lot of information, training, and access to a community of similar folk. They run periodic webinars and generate email articles on various issues of the moment, which all helps you stay abreast of any pertinent issues or developments in the field of school governance.”
How relevant are your professional skills to what you contribute as a governor?
“This remains to be seen, as it’s still early days. However, I’m now chairing the Complaints Committee and am part of the Health and Safety Committee. Even running meetings, staying focused, and managing time are helpful skills to have. Ultimately, the impact you make depends on what the school wants from you and whether they are able to leverage what you can bring. It’s a case of building trust and understanding between the school and the governing body to ensure everyone’s skills are fully utilised. There’s quite a lot to read. You need to remain abreast of policy and get comfortable with educational terminology, but anyone with an inquisitive mind, an eye for detail, and a sensible head would make a good governor.”
How do you find balancing your professional role with your voluntary one?
“Pretty straightforward, to be honest. My company actively encourages community engagement and volunteering through their 5 Million Futures social impact programme, and I can use up to 3.5 hours a month for school support activity. This normally falls during school meeting times. You manage to make time when there’s more to do. So far that has not been a problem, as most things can be done outside of working hours. It has been difficult to visit the school during the pandemic, so the technology tools provided by the County Council to facilitate governor work have proven very helpful to keep everyone connected.”
How would you describe being a governor – in terms of the importance of the role, what you have gained from it and how you feel you have impacted the school?
“It’s a responsibility – a serious one. You are there to be an institutional representative and, as such, you’re accountable to several stakeholders, including the school management, the parents, and the children who are ultimately the customers of the school. You are there to try and ensure they receive the best service that can be provided within the resources available. You’re also part of a team to whom all the stakeholders look to set the right example and offer support. To be honest, I think it’s too early to say how much impact I will have at my current school. I hope I can help, and time will tell. The 4-year tenure is hugely helpful in that regard, as building trust and relationships takes time. The COVID crisis has not helped speed up that aspect of things. What I do know is that I’m hugely honoured to have the opportunity to contribute to my local community in this way, and hope that I can add value. I am also (very gradually) re-discovering some childhood Welsh language skills of my own, though I am quite a slow re-learner.”
Apply for a governance role today!
Feeling inspired by Nader’s experiences? Whether you’re based in England or Wales, don’t hesitate to apply and start your governance journey today.