With schools struggling to attract volunteers to join their governing board, one charity has recruited 10,000 governors – many of whom are professionals with links to global businesses.
And one finance manager has spoken of his pride at helping to turn around a school which teaches children with medical and special needs.
The national education charity Governors for Schools (formerly School Governors’ One Stop Shop) recruits skilled and committed people to be highly effective governors and trustees of schools all over England. It aims to raise public awareness of governor opportunities for the benefit of schools and businesses.
Founded in 1999 as a Department for Education pilot project, the organisation is now independent from the Government and has successfully placed 10,000 governors in schools in the last five years.
Governors can bring their business and work ethic into schools, a benefit for staff and pupils
It is uniquely positioned to attract skilled and committed volunteers from business due to the strength of its relationships with organisations such as KPMG, Deutsche Bank and Lloyds Banking Group.
The charity has found that professionals from businesses of any size, big or small, can make a huge difference to a school through school governance. At the same time, they will develop their own leadership skills while assisting in planning school strategy, helping the school to improve educational outcomes and ensuring children are better prepared for work.
Alastair Cowen, 25, is an assistant manager in public sector audit at KPMG in Birmingham. He joined the board of governors at James Brindley School in 2015. The school has 11 sites and teaching centres around Birmingham and it provides education for children and young people whilst they are in hospital or are unable to attend mainstream school due to medical conditions or special educational needs.
Speaking of his experience as a governor, Alastair says: “I liked the fact that the school fulfils an important role in the city’s strategy to meet the needs of young people, which is what initially drew me in. Also, back in 2015, the school was in Ofsted ‘special measures’, so I was keen to work with a team who were trying to make a difference and help to improve the school’s rating.”
Alastair set about helping to improve the school’s Ofsted rating, by compiling a risk register and looking at the school’s budgets. He also made himself available to meet with the Ofsted inspectors when they came to assess the school and helped to prove that the school was a viable organisation moving forward. The inspectors were impressed with his forward planning and ability to demonstrate the schools value for money, which contributed to the school coming out of special measures in 2017.
Alastair says, “It was a great sense of achievement for everyone on the school’s leadership team. We felt we had been along the journey together, as a school and as a governing body.”
The decision for its recent rebrand from School Governors’ One Stop Shop was taken by chief executive Louise Cooper and her team. Louise explains, “We wanted a name that could convey what we are about very quickly and would appeal to our target audience – many of whom are working in businesses where they are used to compelling brands. The new identity is based on the principles of what we do – each governor creates an impact in a school, which then ripples out to the wider community and our future workforce.”
Governors for Schools is starting 2018 with two school governor recruitment breakfasts this February, taking place in Manchester (February 6) and Birmingham (February 1). The charity will also launch a new website and materials for volunteer governors, schools and partners (businesses and universities).
To find out more about becoming a school governor or encouraging employees to volunteer, visit the Governors for Schools website.