by Sharon MacKenzie
School and Governance Development Manager
Brighton & Hove City Council
Who are school governors and what do they do?
School governors are one of the largest volunteer groups in the country. They make a real difference to the lives of children, by working with head teachers and leadership teams to improve schools. Governing bodies work as a team to make decisions.
What kind of person can be a governor?
Governing bodies usually have around 12 governors and they need a range of skills and experience. Whilst it’s important to have governors with leadership skills and experience of monitoring budgets, governing bodies also need to understand the needs of the pupils. People from the local community are therefore crucial, as are those who may have experience of working with children and families. If you have time to commit, work well in a team and are keen to learn, then this can be a very rewarding voluntary role.
What’s in it for me?
You will meet new people, develop skills and learn more about how schools work. Above all, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have made a real difference to the development of children, young people, their school and the community.
Do I need to have a child at a school?
Not necessarily. There are different types of governor and being a parent governor is only one of them. If you are interested in being a parent governor, you should contact the school to find out about vacancies. Alternatively, you could be appointed onto a governing body as a co-opted governor, depending on the skills and experience they need. The Governor Support Team keeps a list of vacancies and can help to match you to a school – see contact details below.
What is expected of me?
Governing bodies usually meet together once or twice a term. Meetings are being carried out on online platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic, until it is safe to meet together again in schools. Most also hold regular committee meetings that focus on certain areas (for example, curriculum or finance) and have governors who focus on certain areas of work (for example, Special Educational Needs). You will also be expected to carry out school visits, although this type of monitoring is being approached differently at the moment. The amount of hours varies from week to week, but you should expect to spend around 10 days per year on regular duties, which is an average of half a day per fortnight during term-time.
Is training and support provided?
Brighton & Hove’s Governor Support Team provides advice and guidance to governors and clerks, as well as induction and further training – all this is free of charge to the individual. There are also regular briefings to update you on national and local developments. All this is currently being carried out online, using e-learning and virtual discussions.
We are keen to ensure that our governing bodies reflect the diversity of the pupils in our schools. Therefore, we welcome applications from under-represented groups, particularly from black or minority ethnic backgrounds.