Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Why am I a school governor?

Just got home from a day spent at the school where I'm a governor - we do two days a year where we visit in school, do lesson observations, training, hear presentations from members of the school team etc, and then top off the day with one of the regular governor's meetings. They're always long days, but so rewarding. This one was a somewhat awkwardly timed long day, as our summer school students arrive tomorrow morning, but I've come away inspired* and proud to do what I can to support an excellent school team.

Some of my colleagues aren't familiar with the term "school governor", and many of my friends were really surprised to discover that you can be one without being a parent or working in a school. I think this video advertising the role may be my new go-to answer to those questions, as it's a really nice, brief, intro (and the associated website is really useful if you're thinking about volunteering.)

When people ask why I became a governor, my first answer is that I think that learning is basically the most important thing that humans do, so I wanted to step up and put my time to supporting that. (I can also admit to a secondary reason: at the point when I signed up, it was a way of getting some CPD training that I didn't have to pay for out of pocket, at a time when I wasn't otherwise getting training opportunities. Fortunately, that's no longer the case.)

What I wasn't expecting was how much the work of being a governor itself would teach me and inspire me to explore.

To be honest, I lucked in to the school where I volunteer - many of my colleagues have long-standing relationships with the school in various ways, whereas I applied through the local authority's one-stop-shop and they're reasonably close to me and had a vacancy - but I have learned and continued to learn so much from being a small part of their community.

When else was I going to be involved in the recruitment panel for a CEO of a multi-million pound turnover organisation, or get up-close to change management, quality assurance, appraisal, and the quest for constant improvement somewhere that isn't where I work? The chance to contribute somewhere where asking good questions is the primary point of our presence, and to observe any number of teaching approaches in action. To experience a truly masterful chairman at work, to experience and experiment with team formation within a disparate group of people who don't get to be face-to-face very often, but all share a common goal, and to fine-tune all the skills that go with committee work and formal meeting etiquette?.

Not everything's directly relevant to my work life, but an awful lot of it is transferable to some degree. And I've played some small part in hundreds of pupils getting an really high quality of education, in an environment that values them as whole human beings. That's well worth a few days and a dozen or so evenings a year.

*Tonight's addition to my reading list thanks to some synchronicity between work and today's sessions in school.

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