This month’s Staff Spotlight, is LSE Careers Consultant, Barnaby Mollett. Aside from helping out LSE students with CV checks, cover letter rewrites and other general careers advice, he also volunteers as a school governor. Read on to find out about his experience and how you can find a similar role too.
I’m not 100% sure why I first decided to become a school governor, or how the thought got put into my head. I knew I’d seen the words ‘strategy’ and ‘leadership’ frequently on descriptions of jobs I’d quite like to do in the future, but I’d also watched quite a lot of The Walking Dead, which featured a prominent character known simply as ‘The Governor’. Perhaps the unlikely combination of these two things pushed me in the direction of applying for a position not many know an awful lot about – with those who do, generally picturing governors as parents or those with many years’ experience under their belts.
These days the education landscape in the UK is challenging to say the least, and the role of the governor has gained in importance. The three core functions of governance, in brief are:
- Ensuring the school’s strategic direction, ethos, and vision
- Holding executive leaders (head teachers) to account for the school’s performance
- Overseeing financial performance and ensuring budgets are well spent
The role is voluntary, and whilst some expenses are often paid, there is certainly no financial incentive linked to being a governor. Depending on the type of school, your legal status may be as a trustee or a director, but the core functions of governance remain the same.
So, what does a governor really do in practise? What sort of decisions might you contribute to as a governor, and what skills might you develop?
There is a commitment to attend meetings and committees each term with fellow governors and school leadership. Decisions I’ve been involved in include updating policy in line with legislation with central government, analysis and evaluation of the school joining a multi-academy trust (a group of other local schools), assessing and challenging the school’s performance based on data and reports, as well as discussions on anything from the implementation of new technologies to gender neutral uniforms.
I’ve also undertaken training, and made several visits during the school day, for example to sit in on student council and meet teachers. One of my more personal responsibilities has been helping to shape the school’s career education strategy, despite the limited time and budget resource dedicated to it.
Other than the incredible amount of educational acronyms I now know, the experience has definitely helped me develop strategy decision-making skills and gain an operational understanding of multi-million pound budgets. I’ve also worked and negotiated with senior stakeholders and evaluated projects and their impact on its students, staff, and the wider community.
Applying is relatively straightforward. If you are 18 or over, you can approach a school local to you directly, or utilise the Inspiring Governance website, on which you create a profile and indicate the geographical area you’d consider becoming a school governor in. You’d then typically have a meeting with your selected school’s chair of governors and possibly head teacher, to see how your skills and background could be best utilised.
Whether you’re considering a career in education, want exposure to leadership and management decisions, or simply want to volunteer your skills and contribute to a school’s direction, becoming a governor can provide an excellent foundation.
Did Barnaby inspire you to volunteer?
If Barnaby inspired you to volunteer as a school governor, check out Inspiring Governance on more information as to how to apply. Or for other similar trustee type roles with different charities, read our advice on becoming a trustee. For other volunteering opportunities, check out out one of our other 200+ ongoing opportunities or book a one-to-one with Gabriella Monasso, the Volunteer Centre Manager if you have more questions. And why not follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our events and opportunities and read our blog for more volunteering tips and stories.