Campaign tackles shortage of school governors

A new campaign has been set up to help fill 200 governor vacancies in Bristol-based schools. 

The campaign has been set up by Bristol Learning City, alongside Business West and the free online service ‘Inspiring Governance’.

According to the National Governance Association 31% of governing bodies in the UK are short by two or more governors.

The ‘Be a Governor’ campaign aims to highlight myths and tackle misinformation about the role.

Eileen Brocklehurst, Inspiring Governance’s Regional Manager, said: “Governor recruitment is a challenge: our partner the National Governance Association carries out an annual survey of school governance each year and, in the 2017 NGA/ Tes survey of over 5,300 governors and trustees, found that 31% of governing boards have two or more vacancies, and 55% governing boards find it difficult to recruit volunteers.”

The shortage of school governors comes partly due to lack of information about how easy it is to get involved.

“There are myths around who can be a governor,” Ms Brocklehurst adds.

“In fact anyone can be a governor from 18 years old. You don’t need specific skills as training is provided but a commitment to carry out the role and an ability to ask questions are essential. You also don’t need to be a parent or have a child at the school.”

The role of governor is important to help oversee financial decisions, holding teachers to account and to help to ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction. The role would only take up around five to eight hours per month of the school year.

Sally Reardon, a governor of local academy Coleston primary school, said: “It’s kind of a critical friend that works with the school, teachers and staff to make sure that the school is run properly, efficiently and get the best for all the pupils. There is also strategic role in which the governors look at the future of the school and where it might be going.

“We’re not there to assess individual teachers but it’s nice to get a feel about how the school is working. It takes a lot of time as you have to go during the school day and lots of people have full time jobs which makes it quite hard to do that. I didn’t realise how involved they actually were in the school.”

Continuing about the importance of the role in helping schools to deliver their promises to students, she added: “I think it’s important to take on some civic roles. My son is at the school so I’m obviously interested in what he and all the pupils are learning. How we are giving every child the chance to fulfil their potential.”

Reardon added there was a lack of school governors due to confusion over the role.

“I think there’s a shortage because people don’t know what the role is and they think they may not be qualified to do it. I think there could be more done to attract governors,” she said.

”I am pleased that they are making this a priority. I think it’s important that we have good governance of our schools. I think more education about what the role involves would help people overcome their fears about becoming a governor.”

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