Governors for Schools is sad to learn of the closure of the New Schools Network and the consequent winding down of the Academy Ambassadors Programme, which has worked well to recruit people onto Trust boards. As the government continues to encourage schools to become academies and join Multi-Academy Trusts, the need for initiatives to support the placement of volunteers onto boards grows. As such, the recent news will leave many academies in need of support from alternative governor recruitment experts.

In light of this, Hannah Stolton, CEO of Governors for Schools, confirms that the charity is committed to continuing to support the recruitment challenges that schools face: “Governors for Schools recognises the strong and growing need for talented governors and trustees across the education sector. We’re proud to have recruited a diverse cohort of volunteers over the past year, over a third of whom were from ethnic minority backgrounds. However, we know there is much more to be done to support schools and academies to address the national shortage of volunteers on school boards. Governors for Schools, we believe, can play a part in supporting the sector during this time of need.’’

While the scale of support required is significant, Governors for Schools is already addressing the challenges currently affecting Trusts. We have a proven track record of placing skilled volunteers on boards across England and Wales, and continue to attract a diverse range of new recruits. In the last year, we supported the appointment of 1,962 volunteers on boards across England and Wales, 35% of whom were under the age of 35, a figure we aim to build on in the coming year.

We’re working to build on our strong and thriving connections with businesses and universities across England. Partnerships with a wide range of organisations help us to introduce the benefits of governance to professionals who may not have considered the role. In so doing, we aim to recruit people with varied transferrable skills and perspectives while offering them fulfilling volunteering and professional development opportunities. In addition to direct recruitment from such sources, we will continue to produce rich and informative campaign resources, appealing to the wider community to bring fresh perspectives to the sector. In the long term, we believe our efforts will go a significant way towards addressing gaps on school boards.

The Department for Education will be reviewing its options and processes as to next steps following this setback. Perhaps for smaller contracts such as the one for trustee recruitment, a shorter route following good procurement practice could speed things up to support the sector more quickly. Now might be a good opportunity to review the approach – payment by results would ensure good value for money, ensuring the government uses public funds for the delivery of an appointment, thus driving competition in the market. It could also pave the way to a seamless transition to delivering what is needed by Trusts across the country.

As an organisation, we look forward to continuing our work supporting Trusts across England, working with them in the fast-evolving landscape towards academisation.

Editor’s Notes

Interested in supporting schools in these challenging times? Governors for Schools are keen to hear from you. We currently have hundreds of registered board vacancies waiting to be filled by committed volunteers. You don’t need to be a parent or have special qualifications in education to apply. We’re searching for people aged 18+ with a variety of hard and soft skills. To find out more, visit our website.

About Governors for Schools

Governors for Schools is a national education charity that finds, places, and supports skilled volunteers as governors on school and academy boards. We work with schools and volunteers across England and Wales to improve education for children and young people. With over 20 years’ worth of experience matching volunteers with schools, we’re committed to ensuring every board has diverse and effective governance. Our skills-based matching service means volunteers are placed on a board where they can make a significant impact.

Governors for Schools is a Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England No. 3879854 and registered as a Charity in England and Wales No. 1078330