By Ben Cooper
WHEN I became a governor at a secondary school five years ago, I had very little knowledge of what the role entailed. Today, I firmly believe that if others knew what to expect, more would be interested to volunteer their time.
It’s funny really because I was not a fan of education as a child, leaving school at 16 to follow a career path. Little did I know the passion I would develop for education later in life because of governance.
When I applied to become a governor, I was 36 and had no formal governance qualification, which I thought would count against me. My main interest was knowing more about the school my daughter would be joining a year or two later. But it’s interesting to note that my lack of connection to education actually went in my favour when applying to become a governor.
Schools have always done well to secure the services of those in the teaching profession, but it is people with a commercial background that can help to add value to the governance role, because it’s so diverse. As a group we cover finance, careers, leadership and management, safeguarding, subjects and facilities to name just a few, so I was actually well qualified having run my own business.
Governors are focused on school strategy and so a commercial background is really helpful. Of course, education sits at the heart of the role and being a governor allows you to understand the inner workings of the school and have a genuine impact on the life chances of hundreds of young people.
Fast forward five years and I am now a chair of governors in two secondary schools and vice-chair in another – such is the interest I have developed. I have had lots of training and am even back at school myself, studying school leadership!
The teachers I have worked with and young people I have met have inspired me and I am very proud to be able to support them. As a chair, my role obviously requires more time but as a governor just a few hours a month can make a huge difference.
Only time will tell what impact the last 18-months has had on our young people, but quality education backed up with good governance will ensure we do all we can to make sure no one is left behind.
I am currently looking for governors to join me at Bridgemary School so if you think you can help or would like to know more then please contact me for an initial discussion: email@example.com.
Ben Cooper is Chair of Governors at Bridgemary School, part of the TKAT Multi Academy Trust.