Anne McAvan is a Director with responsibility for governance at The Gorse Academies Trust in Leeds. It’s Anne’s role to make sure each of the Trust’s local governing bodies are working effectively and governors are well-equipped for the role. We spoke to Anne to find out how the governors have supported the Trust and why she’s confident they’re right for the job.
I am a director on the board of a multi-academy trust based in Leeds. A couple of years ago, the Chair of Governors asked me if I’d like to take on the responsibility of overseeing governance for the board. The role meant making sure that each of our local governing bodies worked within the Trust’s vision, values and most importantly, had governors with appropriate skills and interests.
The Gorse Academies Trust is a growing and successful group. From small beginnings (the academisation of Morley High School at the start of 2011) the Trust has flourished and now includes 5 high schools, 4 primary schools, a 16-19 college and a relatively new venture, an alternative provision. Six of these academies have been judged Outstanding by Ofsted, including those that have been developed ‘from scratch’ and other, more recent members are well on their way to achieving this accolade.
The prospect of leading on governance was both exciting and daunting. As many of you will know, ensuring that governance is sufficiently challenging, supportive and actively engaged in promoting excellence in schools is no small task. At Gorse, there is also a fundamental requirement that all colleagues have a total commitment to the provision of an excellent education for all students, but especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. There are high expectations about the quality of teaching, behaviour and support for those students who require additional interventions in order to fulfil their potential. Equally, the Trust is committed to broadening horizons through extra-curricular opportunities, links with further and higher education and the world of work.
With any expanding organisation, the recruitment and retention of new members is challenging. When people are volunteering their services, it is even more crucial that their specific talents are matched to the most appropriate governing body. This is where Governors for Schools has played a vital role. Over the past two years, Governors for Schools have worked hard to provide potential governors that fulfil the specific needs that I have requested. Their application process is clear and easily understood and the information that candidates provide gives me ample evidence of their suitability.
We have recruited a significant number of governors from Governors for Schools who have made a big difference to our local governing bodies. Their ‘fresh set of eyes’ have provided additional opinions on issues such as health and safety, finance and HR. Governors play a very important part in scrutinising the work of the school and their expertise can help guide procedures and policies. One governor, for example, was very involved in the tendering process for a new catering contract across the Trust. Equally, many of our governors get involved in other aspects of the school, visiting at lunchtimes, attending concerts and shows or getting involved in sporting or citizenship events so that they get to know the students and are involved in the life of the school.
As a Director of the Trust and also a governor on a local governing body, I can wholeheartedly say to anyone considering becoming a governor that it is a very rewarding and interesting thing to do. Don’t be deterred by those who talk about additional workload – you’ll find yourself amongst like-minded colleagues who have an interest in education, and who will support and help you develop your understanding. It gives an insight into education and provides opportunities to give something back to your local community. Your contribution as a governor is undoubtedly beneficial to our young people.
If you are in a similar position to me and are thinking about registering your school governor vacancies with Governors for Schools, I cannot recommend them highly enough. They are efficient, tenacious and thorough. Their prompt service and their careful monitoring of the effectiveness of their work is impressive. We now have a 2 year history of working together successfully and I fully expect this to continue well into the future.
If you’re interested in registering your governor vacancies with us, please register here.