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This morning I have spent my time finalising my research proposal and a presentation for my BA Hons degree in leadership and management. My studies have taken me right out of my comfort zone and I am having to adapt to new processes, systems and ways of working. I have often found myself veering towards much easier, more familiar and comfortable activities and this morning instead of finishing my presentation I was posting all over my social media about what I was doing but not actually DOING any of the doing!

Here is the post I posted in a governance page on Facebook that I founded (School Governors UK) and which prompted this post…

A member of the group posted in response this…

Keep up the good work! (As long as it is inline with your personal strategic priorities… 馃槉)Unlike 路 Reply 路 1 路 1 hr

As you can see from my posting on here, I am straying into operational activities – also known as distraction techniques!Like 路 Reply 路 1 hr

It was this response to my distraction-activity post that made me think about how governors may use similar distraction techniques.

One of the most common areas of support and guidance I offer both individual governors and governing bodies is to maintain their strategic functions and not stray into operational activities. Indeed this is often a criticism levelled at underperforming governing bodies in inspection reports and governance reviews.

We know that operational governance leads to underperforming governing bodies and their failure to hold school leaders to account effectively but we need to look at why governors are so tempted to stray into these operational activities. If governors, like me with my degree studies, feel out of their comfort zone, isolated (I am doing my degree part time and as a distance learner) and lacking in confidence then they are going to be tempted to stray back into their comfort zone and distract themselves with the operational activities that they have been recruited for having the skills and knowledge in.

For me good governance is often about implementing simple, practical solutions and supporting governors to develop their strategic functions is no different. As I have said before we need to clearly balance having high expectations of our governing bodies but must also support and nurture them in their roles.To support governors to maintain strategic oversight I believe they need the following;

  • Clarity of their role, responsibilities and the expectations upon them
    The support of a strong mentor during their induction period or during their term as a governor if they are struggling
    High quality and accessible training and development opportunities available
    A clear strategic SMART governor monitoring plan in place that is linked to the school development plan

I hope that this sounds like the support that you as a governor receives or that you provide to your governing bodies. It isn’t rocket science and can be achieved without spending a fortune but what it does take is recognising and identifying when operational activities are being undertaken and having the commitment and courage to address that with some of my solutions above.

If you are a serving governor in the UK and would like to join our governance community on Facebook then please do come and join us, the group is an excellent source of advice and support – I promise we will not distract you! Just search for School Governors UK.

If you think I missed anything please do add in the comments.

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