EVER thought about going back to school? Not as a pupil but as a school governor? It might not be something you’ve thought about, but this voluntary role can be a great way of keeping your skills up-to-date and gaining new ones.
Major John Symmons is a governor at Mount Street Infant and Junior Schools in Brecon, Wales. He grew up as a military child and now works with army engagement, giving him links to many sectors of Welsh society and government: “It enables me to ensure that service children’s issues are represented and are kept in perspective. I try to ensure that the positive sides of being a service child are not overlooked. The life experiences that they bring to a school can be huge.”
John feels part of the school and has gained a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes. “I get the chance to see the children developing,” he explained. “I see the teachers and other pupils almost daily as my children go to school here.
“Most important is that the school understands its links to the military community and how to access support. Having a service family member on the governing body is really useful in achieving that. We’re lucky to have an arrangement with a local unit who routinely provide a Nepalese governor.”
In Brunei, Jutta Morford volunteers as a parent governor at Hornbill School. As well as being an army spouse, she’s an early years teacher and a mother of two. “As Hornbill is an MOD school they understand the needs of service families very well,” said Jutta. “On the governance committee, we draw on our knowledge and experience to support the headteacher and staff; for me this is in early years. We contribute to the strategic direction of the school, looking at aims, targets and policies as well as the school’s budget and expenditure.”
Even though it’s a big responsibility, being a governor is fairly straightforward and John encourages families to get involved.
“If there are issues at the school your time may be called upon a little more, but I have developed a really in-depth understanding of how a school operates and this has (I hope) led to my children gaining better support at home. The tenure of a governor here is four years which could seem a barrier to service families however, this is not a hard and fast rule.”
And Jutta agrees that representation of service families is crucial: “I think if Hornbill wasn’t an MOD school it would be even more important to help communicate service specific issues such as frequent moves and parents being away on deployments. If you have the time, an interest in education, leadership, business or management, being a part of a school’s governing body is very rewarding.”
Inspiring Governance, a free, online governor recruitment service, funded by the Department for Education can help you find a school. It’s created a dedicated partner page on its website for you to find out more information and register. Once placed, you’ll receive a support and training package for your first year in the role. Go to inspiringgovernance.org for details.