This week is National Volunteers week. I am a big fan of volunteering, I believe that volunteering helps to grow and develop communities and can impact on our own personal and professional development.
Did you know that the largest and often most unrecognised group of volunteers in the UK are school governors?
There are some 300,000 people gifting their time, knowledge, and skills to schools throughout the UK. Yet approximately 1 in 4 school governor positions remain vacant.
Our communities are bursting at the seams with professional and skilled people, who by sharing their expertise and knowledge would make valuable and welcomed school governors. Are you one of those people?
School governors are the strategic leaders of our schools and there is currently focus on all governing bodies to develop their own performance to ensure they have the skills, knowledge, and experience within their team and to make sure that they have the right people with the right skills on the governing body or board.
Do you have the skills, time, and commitment to volunteer in a school local to you?
Have you ever stopped to think about the personal and professional benefits there are to gain from volunteering as a school governor?
Do you want to improve your health?
A research study undertaken by Dr. Rachel Cassidy at the University of Wales found that volunteering could increase your life expectancy, improve your ability to cope with ill health, promote a healthier lifestyle, and improve family relationships and self-esteem.
Do you want to develop as a professional?
Since volunteering as a school governor, I have gained as much as I have given. I have worked with fantastic Head Teachers and Senior Leaders who have demonstrated excellent leadership skills that I have used to develop my own practice as a leader. I have learnt different ways to engage with a diverse team of people and how to support them to recognise their strengths and contributions and I have learnt how to listen to voices of a whole community of people ranging from young people, to skilled professionals and families. I have learnt how to question and challenge without criticism or blame and how to hold people to account whilst building professional and positive working relationships.
Yes I have given too, effective governance can never be a one way street. I came to governance as a senior manager and I already had strong communication and leadership skills but these have definitely been enhanced by the experiences that I have had being a school governor.
Do you want to give back to your community?
An effective governing body has the opportunity to support children in their community to develop into confident, self assured, resilient young people who leave school having experienced good quality education that prepares them for all aspects of their lives. The legacy of the work of an effective governing body is sometimes not realised until years to come but they lay the foundations for children’s futures. I cannot think of a greater reward than that.
Can you make time?
When I started as a governor I didn’t have spare time, I am an ordinary working Mum with 2 children who also lead busy lives and a spotty dog that needs walking (lots!) – but I made time. Being a governor does take a time commitment, preparing for and attending meetings, additional school visits for monitoring purposes and maybe report writing in between. I don’t find being a governor a chore, I enjoy it. Being self employed it is great to be part of a team again. Don’t get me wrong there are some challenges and some governing bodies face more of these than others but there is also a need for governing bodies to have on board the right people to overcome those challenges.
I strongly believe that all children and young people in all schools deserve governors who are confident, can hold the senior leadership team to account and who understand their role in being part of an effective team.
Do you have what it takes?
If you are interested in exploring further wether volunteering as a school governor is for you then I would be happy to chat to you more, so just get in touch.
A great organisation to contact if you are considering volunteering as a school governor is the School Governor One Stop Shop (SGOSS) who match potential governors with schools who have vacancies https://www.sgoss.org.uk . SGOSS match skills with need and have a thorough recruitment process.
Let me know how you get on.