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Get on with your Governors

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Richard Hover looks at how to strengthen the bonds between governors and their school

Section 21 (2) of the Education Act (2002), says that ‘The conduct of a maintained school shall be under the direction of the school’s governing body’. This would indicate that the governor role carries a vitally important responsibility, yet it is in the hands of unpaid volunteers. In this blog, I hope to clarify some aspects of a governor’s role and what might impact on that.

I have been a Governor since September 2014 and when I started, my school was going through a difficult journey, having been rated ‘Requires Improvement’ with Leadership and Management a particular area for improvement. I soon realised that one of the key challenges of my role was learning how to work effectively with a group of people – all with their own competing personal priorities and commitments – to improve the quality of education and make the changes that were needed. I also realised that governors had differing perspectives of what is expected of the governor role. Some still adhered to the ‘old-school’, fairly laid back approach: talking to staff, attending Christmas performances etc. Some governors came with their own personal agendas, which meant addressing key issues around school performance or improvement strategy was at times challenging.

My background is not in the education sector but within the Civil Service, where I have a proven track record of realising change through building continuous improvement. Although initially I found it difficult to persuade long standing governors to make radical changes, the introduction of smarter working and collaboration concepts began to have an impact. These included a toolkit to administer the governors’ School Improvement Plan (SIP), monitoring progress and impact, and introducing Governor Days in order to focus on bigger strategic issues and make meetings more purposeful with positive outcomes.

When I became Chair of Governors, a little over 15 months ago, I set myself a goal to nurture my Governing Body and develop a committed group of governors who were all working towards the same common goal - to provide excellent education for our children. I felt that there were several elements to achieving this:

· Building an effective team and developing strong relationships

· Having clear boundaries between the professional role and personal lives