A governor’s story, by Pat Desmond

My role as a school governor allows me to use my professional skills and workplace experience to perform my duties and carry out my responsibilities. But this is just not one way, I also gain in return a lot of transferable skills that help me with my day job.

The motivation in becoming a school governor was in wanting to give something back to the school that had and would have a big impact on my life, both in terms of my own education and that of my two children.

At my first meeting, I sat awkwardly looking worriedly at the agenda and supporting papers, experiencing full on the proverb ‘a watched pot never boils’ and how true it was! The thought of setting strategic direction, holding the head teacher to account and overseeing financial performance of the school that I had relied on for my own education seemed daunting.

Eventual realisation was, however, that this was our governing body collective responsibility and I was not on my own. Together with the support infrastructure in place, the skills and experience I have developed provided me with the tools to perform my role more confidently and effectively.

My fellow governors have taken on the role for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to our children’s future.

For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Regardless of the motivation, what unites us all is that we find it both challenging and rewarding.

Having spent over 18 years as a governor, I have benefited in many ways in my professional life, as a parent, and being part of a wider community. The role provides me with the opportunity to practice important skills used in my workplace, such as leadership, strategic planning, risk management, communication, collaboration, influencing, team working, networking, decision making, problem solving and many more, all of which have positively impacted on my personal aspirations and career progression.

While developing new skills has been beneficial to me, it’s not a requirement for a fulfilling a governor role. When it comes to a governor role, being prejudice-free, having passion and positivity should be the most valuable and sought after requirements.

Governing bodies should be representative of their local communities, cohesive, dynamic and with the right skills to make schools effective and successful.

The recruitment advert and pitch should be designed to attract a range of candidates from all backgrounds as opposed to targeting professionals / managers or people who have retired from such jobs. It’s all about attracting the right candidate based on the contribution the candidate can make to fill the skills gap.

Whilst focussing on the purpose and requirements of the role, the advert should also include the benefits that the governor can gain, as this is paramount to attracting a diverse and increased interest.

I will leave you for this edition with a final quote: “One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” – Gordon Hinckley