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School Governors play a key role in supporting and improving schools; and becoming one can be a very rewarding experience.

We are always looking for people interested in becoming a governor, so please find out more and get in touch if you would like to apply. You do not have to have children at school, indeed we are actively looking for people from all walks of life and all backgrounds to ensure our governing boards reflect the communities served by schools. Our only ask is that you share our passion for giving local young people the best education possible.

What school governors do

Governors are members of the school’s governing board and work with the headteacher. They are responsible for strategic oversight, ensuring high standards are set for all pupils, while the headteacher implements strategic goals and manages the school from day to day.

School governors:

  • ensure clarity of vision and strategic direction of the school
  • oversee financial performance and ensure that the school’s money is well spent
  • hold school leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff

You can find out more about governors’ responsibilities in the DFE Governance Handbook.

What you need to commit to

If you become a governor you need to:

  • prepare for and contribute to regular governors’ meetings, this can include meetings of committees
  • spend time on your individual development and getting to know the school and the role
  • be committed to the role

What you get out of it

By committing a small amount of time during the school year, you will make a real difference in helping the strategic running of the school. Training is available for those who govern at a South Gloucestershire subscribing school. This will provide opportunities to develop key management skills you can use elsewhere.

What I get out of being a school governor

Richard's story

“I love going into school to see first-hand how our work makes a difference in helping children enjoy learning.”

Even after his children have both moved onto secondary school, Richard continues to act as Chair of Governors for his local primary school. We ask him why.

How long have you been a Governor?

“I was first appointed a governor back in 2012 when my children were in Reception and Year 2. I wanted to give something back to the school and hoped my IT skills could be of help. I’ve recently been elected to a third 4-year term and in that time, I’ve performed a number of roles, with a focus on Resources, on Health & Safety and more recently as Chair of the Governors.”

What does a governor do?

“Governors get involved in so many different aspects of school life, but that’s what’s great. It’s been a brilliant learning experience and I’ve been able to take so much back to my wider work and life. Early on my IT skills came in handy when we were looking at a new IT service contract, but I’ve also been involved with teacher recruitment, I’ve supported our work developing our offer for children with Special Educational Needs, I’ve got involved with budgeting and finances and in my role as Chair I’ve been interviewed by Ofsted inspectors.”

What keeps you doing the job after your children have left?

“Ok, so when I first started, my children were fairly new to the school and I was probably like every other parent, wanting to do all I could to help give my kids the best start. However, back in 2019 when both of my children had moved on, I didn’t need convincing to stay on as a governor. I want to give back to the school which has done so much for my children. I want to keep learning new skills I can bring back to my day job. But most of all, I enjoy being a governor and I love going into school to see first-hand how our work makes a difference in helping children enjoy learning.”

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the role?

“Firstly, I’d encourage anyone thinking about it to find out more. Typically, schools won’t be looking for specific skills or backgrounds, more they’re looking for people with an interest in children’s education who want to give something back.”

“I remember I was a little nervous starting out in the role. However, everyone has always been really supportive and welcoming, and the induction and training has helped me get to grips with whatever roles I’ve taken on. I think that’s the advice I’d give. There’s so much help and support out there, make sure you grab it! “

“In terms of the practicalities and commitments, you need to prepare for and attend governing body and committee meetings. At our school that’s usually 10 meetings each academic year.”

“As I mentioned, there is lots of training on offer, which I’ve found to be so useful in keeping my skills up to date. Most important of all, you will also want to spend time in school observing the school day and interactions that take place in lessons. After all, what’s the point of being a governor if you don’t get to spend time in school having fun with the children?”

Liz's story

“For me, being a Governor is about getting more involved in the local community.”

Liz has been a school governor in some form for 10 years. Here she talks about her experiences and the skills she’s picked up from being a governor.

“For me, being a Governor is about getting more involved in the local community. Schools are such a big part of our towns and villages, they bring together parents, teachers and increasingly the wider community to help give our children and young people the best possible education. That’s my passion and I love that both through my role with the council and as a governor I can play a positive part in helping young people get off to the best start in life.”

“But I’ve also learnt a number of new skills from being a governor. Amongst our team we have a very diverse group of backgrounds and each of us brings different knowledge and experience to the party. I’ve been involved in staff recruitment, including the appointment of a new headteacher.”

“I’ve learned about budgets and finances, but what I really love is going into schools, observing lessons and seeing things at the chalk-face.”

“It’s a role which fits in well with my work and my life. Obviously, it will work differently for every school and what role you take on, but we have about nine or ten meetings and three half-day visits a year.”

“Meetings are in the evenings and are all currently being held by Zoom, so it’s not a big time commitment, but I look forward to getting involved as it is such a positive environment. I’ve always been made to feel welcome; everyone is just appreciative of what skills and knowledge you can bring.”

Marie's story

“Being a governor gives me a real sense of pride – I love seeing the children’s faces when I’m in school”

Marie is a governor at the school her children attend. She talks about what’s involved and why she does it.

“I became a governor of the school my children attend when they were in years 2 and 3. I’d been in the Parents & Teachers Association for several years, but rather than just sitting on the periphery looking in, I felt I could actually be of some value and help the school and teachers thrive if I was more involved in the actual running of the school.”

“I’ve now been a Local Authority Governor for about 18 months and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in the recruitment of a new head and also involved in interviews of other staff members. I’ve been able to go into the school and observe ‘school life’ in action, seeing the pupils interact with their environment and helping to find way to improve and prioritise.”

“I sit on the Finance and Health and Safety Committees, so I get to see first-hand how tight school budgets are. Luckily, I enjoy the challenge of resource allocation! “

“Being a governor gives me a real sense of pride. I love seeing the children’s faces when I’m in school. But it’s not always easy. Being a governor does sometimes mean saying ‘no’ to the ideas or the spending aspirations of others. It’s just about being that level-headed sounding board.”

“It’s not a huge commitment. As I sit on three committees (FGB, Finance and H&S) I attend three meetings every quarter. Each meeting normally lasts for a couple of hours and there’s a couple of hours prep in advance reading through the paperwork. But it fits in well with my other commitments. Our meetings are usually held in the evening so they don’t interfere with my day job.”

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Find out more

If you, your family or friends are interested, get in touch with us at 01454 863182 or email governor.services@southglos.gov.uk.

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