This occasional series sprang out of a chat with my dear friend Dianne Spencer She is a brilliant head teacher leading her team to provide some amazing educational experiences for their pupils. This space is about and for school governors, one of the most underrated sections of leadership in our schools today. It is here for you to share so please leave a comment with your views and any topics you might like to explore!
How do you get people who are volunteers to undertake training for something they do in their spare time?
Well firstly I suppose, you have to convince them that it is a vital role and not just a civic duty. It is really important that schools and Governors understand that their role is no longer restricted to just turning up at meetings. An active and informed Governing body can really move a school forward. As a Governor in two schools (Chair in one), I have undergone a series of training provided by my Local Authority and have used this to role model for my fellow governors. Many of them have been surprised that having been a head teacher I should do any training. It has been great to see it all from the ‘other side’ of the table.
Something that has been very useful is a skills audit. It consists of a series of questions about governors’ knowledge of the school with a tick box with choices ranging from inadequate to fully embedded. All Governors have completed it and it has been collated to show where the gaps in understanding lie across the whole Governing body. From this, it has been possible to draw up a Governors Development Plan which hopefully will link into the school’s SDP.
From the other side, trying to get Governors to engage generally and go on training can be a frustrating and tiring activity for a head teacher. One strategy that I used which was quite successful was to ask a specific governor a specific question based on the paperwork they had been sent. I made myself wait in the silence (you know how teachers hate silence!). It was quite uncomfortable for us all but it didn’t happen again! All the governors had at least skimmed the papers so that they could be part of a discussion.
How do you get governors to engage in training and at meetings? If you are a school governor, what are your experiences of this area of your work? Should it be compulsory?