When we talk about donating time to boards, most people think about charity boards, but have you ever considered becoming an education governor?
Who can become an education governor?
Education governors come from all backgrounds and sectors with either professional or lived experience that can help the board to make their decisions. A passion for education and future generations is a must, but you don’t need to have any experience in the education sector to make a difference.
Why should you become an education governor?
In my mind, the reasons to be an education governor or trustee are endless, but my top three would be a sense of purpose, impact and influence and making a difference to our education. system.
1. Sense of purpose
Education has impacted us all, our families and future generations.
We are all keen to develop as people and enhance our sense of purpose – the pandemic taught many of us that life isn’t just about the daily slog and paying the ever-increasing bills. Finding your sense of purpose and giving back to organisations that play a big part in our lives, has seen a significant rise on people’s priority list over the last two and a half years.
I have had numerous professional conversations with people over this time who, if almost having a lightbulb moment, have realised that giving back to an organisation is the direction they want to go. This isn’t about bequeathing their inheritance or making a monthly donation, but is about giving their time, expertise and experience to make a difference – to jump off the corporate merry-go-round once in a while and influence the success and direction of an organisation that has played a key role in their own lives.
Many will automatically think about charitable organisations – an organisation that has supported them, a friend or a family member through illness, bereavement or a tough period of life. Not many people automatically think about education – we’ve all been there, it is where we started and a place that has supported us all to be the people who we are today, never mind our children, grandchildren and future generations.
Being an education governor or trustee is a rewarding and fulfilling venture for any of us. You don’t need to be a Chief Executive, a senior leader or even an educationalist to join the ever-growing pool of people who regularly attend board and committee meetings to influence and impact the quality of education delivered by our schools, sixth forms, further education colleges and universities.
2. Impact and Influence
The most important thing that you should bring is the recognition of the importance of education and the difference it does make to lives, along with a real passion for making that difference and committing your time and expertise.
As an education governor, you will draw on the professional experience of your working career and own life experiences to support and challenge the strategic direction of the organisation. You will reflect on the lessons that you have learnt through education, work and life, to ask questions and understand how decisions being made on an operational level will and could impact on the students and their potential for achievement.
My mantra is “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” – your question may make the executive team think long and hard about why they are making the decisions they are making, will make them think differently and potentially change the outcome of the matter being discussed around the table.
3. Making a difference
As creatures of habit, we tend to berate the education system – so why not do something about it and really make a difference!
This time is given voluntarily, but the reward and sense of purpose is insurmountable in terms of the impact of social change and providing better futures for our communities. Every child and every person deserves the opportunity to fulfil their potential, gain skills and qualifications and become our next generation workforce.
It’s also not all about the meetings, as a governor or trustee you will be offered the opportunity to visit the school or college to talk to the staff and the students, attend the awards ceremonies, the sports day events and student productions – this is when the rewards really come to life!
The most recent government white paper for education highlights the need for educational boards to represent the communities that they serve. Every governance professional across the sector is on a mission to ensure that there are people on the board who reflect the student population and have strong links with the local employers – for all intents and purposes, we all have a place around the board table.
My mantra is “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.”
In 2022, we launched a three-year partnership with the Department for Education to recruit 137 governors to college boards across England. If you are interested in becoming an education governor, please register your details on our online form.
Sarah Atkins-Boal is our Principal Consultant specialising in Further Education and Governance. With over 25 years’ experience in the Further Education sector and, as an education governor herself, she is passionate about finding the leaders and governors who can make a true impact in the education sector. You can connect with Sarah on Linkedin or send her an email.