Bristol Learning City, a partnership of over 70 local organisations, has launched a new campaign alongside Business West and the free, online Inspiring Governance service to recruit more school governors.
Local businesses and employees are being especially encouraged to consider the benefits of volunteering as a way to give back to local communities and support the city’s schools. The ‘Be a Governor’ campaign will highlight what new recruits are set to gain - including the opportunity to learn new skills, build networks and, if employed, boost their company’s reputation in the community.
There are currently over 200 governor vacancies across local-authority maintained schools and many local academies are also looking for new governors. Business West will support the campaign by promoting the opportunities to businesses through their Skills West programme, including their members.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol and chair of the Bristol Learning City partnership, said: “We know that to give young people the best possible start in life they need access to a good education and governors have a key role to play in supporting and improving our schools. One of Bristol’s strengths is its diverse population, so we’re looking to recruit new governors from all walks of life to reflect this. By helping to support our schools, individuals can play a role in improving life chances for all students.”
Nicky Williams, Head of Skills at Business West, said: “For businesses the benefits of encouraging staff to become governors and supporting a local school can be considerable. It’s proven that supporting staff to offer their time in this way increases personal confidence and helps staff to develop skills that can be taken back into the workplace. It really supports the development of robust strategies in schools through businesses supporting them to understand the future workplace for their students.”
Anyone over 18 can apply to be a governor and schools are particularly looking for people with a love of learning and an interest in education. Individuals with professional skills such as finance, accountancy, law, and communications are particularly required. The main role of school governors is to work with the headteacher to set the vision and goals for the school. Governors also oversee the school’s budget and help to recruit staff, whilst also advising on policies and procedures and monitor the school’s performance.
Eileen Brocklehurst, Regional Manager for Inspiring Governance, explains: “Our online matching system enables schools and volunteers to self-match via the website. Once placed through Inspiring Governance volunteers also have access to a range of support needed to become a governor.”
Sarah Baker, headteacher at Redland Green School and member of the Bristol Learning City partnership, said: “The value of having committed, interested governors cannot be underestimated. They help to bring a fresh perspective and act as a sounding board for headteachers.”
James Broadway works at Lloyds Bank and has been a governor on the Ashley Down School Federation board since February 2016. He said: “Being a governor has helped me to meet a wide range of local people and build new connections in my local community. I’ve picked up lots of transferable skills which I’ll be able to use in my career – and I enjoy giving something back.”
Committing to being a governor involves taking part in regular meetings, usually six times per year and usually in the evening, and occasionally sitting on panels to handle staff appointments, pupil discipline or complaint issues. It’s also important that governors are able to spend some time getting to know the school and benefitting from the free training available.
Local businesses are being contacted about the campaign from today (6 December) and people can register their interest here: www.bristol.gov.uk/BeAGovernor or get in touch directly with firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Four Steps to Become a Governor
1. Create your account. You’ll need to enter your postcode and a few details about yourself. Once you’ve created your account, we’ll start the process to match you with a school.
2. Visit the school and check it’s right for you. Once matched with a potential school you’ll meet key staff and/or governors to check both you and the school are clear about the role and what you can offer. This is your opportunity to ask questions and decide if it is the right match for you before the school proposes you as a governor.
3. Take your place. If you decide to become a governor and if you’re successfully appointed, you can take your place on the governing board or as a trustee.
4. Access support and resources. Once placed, you’ll have access to e-learning, telephone and online support through the National Governance Association to help you in your first year. Training is also offered by Bristol City Council’s Governor Development Service.
As a volunteer, your profile will be available online to schools registered with Inspiring Governance. Some brief information will let them know your experience and skills. Schools recruiting governors can contact you to invite you for a further discussion about their vacancies.