I'm a school governor #2
Meet Nick Johnson, the latest candidate in the ‘I’m a school governor’ series. His, at times ‘tongue-in-cheek approach, gives a great insight into he motivation for joining the biggest volunteer force in the country.
Why do it?
It was simple really, I was attracted by the pay, the recognition and thanks from the current secretary of state for Education, the rock and roll lifestyle and the fact it sounded like an easy gig. Unfortunately as it turned out I would be disappointed on all fronts. Especially the rock and roll lifestyle.
Both my parents used to be in senior leadership positions in schools, and when I mentioned my intention to be a school governor their advice amounted to ‘’really, are you sure?’ and ‘if you do it don’t be one of those governors that sticks their noses into operational issues all the time, teachers don’t like those types of governors. They may smile politely, but inside they are fuming.
So with that positive encouragement ringing in my ears I put my name down for a parent governor position that had come up. Then due to many reasons including my skills, competences, suitability for the position, but mostly the fact that I was the only parent that went for it, I got elected on a sweeping majority.
Looking back, I seriously do think I was going into it with my main motivation being to give something back and do the best I can for the children. There is always the danger of getting too carried away with the politics of it all, petty arguments and point scoring, egos, CV enhancement and downright rampant narcissism. All of which I am sure I have exhibited in some form or another over the years. However I feel that if you are going to be an effective governor you must remember at all times that you are there for the school. I’ve always thought a pupil start every full GB meeting saying ‘please do your best so I can have the best start in life possible’.
What you need
To be a good school governor you really need two things, competence and a lot of commitment. To me you need the relevant skills to do any role, so why should governing be any different? I know we are volunteers, but so are the RNLI, and if you ever needed them to rescue you you’d kind of hope when they turned up they had the necessary skills to perform the task in hand. And not send their apologies for the 3rd time in a row. So you need to ensure you get excited about continual professional development and learning new things.
The commitment can be a challenge, especially if you have those small inconveniences such as a job, a family, friends, a social life and other hobbies. You need to be realistic with how much time you can commit to the role. For my sins I try and play a bit of golf and I could argue that other than a complete lack of golfing talent, governing has probably cost me my place on the European Ryder cup team.
Through my governing role I have found myself in a hotel on the outskirts of Mansfield on a Saturday afternoon listening to a rather harrowing and depressing 60 minute talk on Child Sexual Exploitation* and driving to a governor training course on cold wet windy Monday evening when my mates were having their weekly poker evening. And that is where your reason for doing it will help keep you sane. Keep thinking of how you are helping the school and it will pull you through it.
Governing has changed dramatically in the last few years and there are ever increasing pressures and challenges to face. Not all governors make it through their full term of office, with the ones that go mostly being the ones that come into it with little knowledge of what it entails, the commitment needed or the ones with a specific operational agenda. Sometimes you kind of think that some of the expectations placed on us are a little unrealistic, and there is an argument to say they sometimes are. A little more thanks from the Government and Ofsted would be nice, instead of seemingly being constantly berated for not being professional enough, not challenging enough, being too pally with the head, being too operational, not putting enough hours into it, putting too many hours into it, not sourcing your own data (etc., etc., the list goes on and on)
However, as the cliché goes, at the end of the day it is an extremely rewarding and satisfying role and you will get out of it what you put in. There is the opportunity to always learn new things as every day’s a school day. You will gain some extremely important transferable skills that you can use in other areas of your life and you get the opportunity to make a small but vital positive impact on the start in life children get without the hassle of having to teach them.
Pay’s still rubbish though.
*to be fair it was actually an excellent talk and got the message across extremely well.
Join the community
If you think you could become a school governor do drop me a line below. You can also join a brilliant Face Book group ‘School Governors UK’ where you will meet up with Nick again!