Educators on Board – the CPD benefits of becoming a school or college governor

2020 has been a tumultuous year for educators in schools and colleges. They have gone above and beyond (and let’s be frank… beyond beyond!) to educate and train our young people, often in ways not even imagined before the Covid-19 pandemic, writes Dominic Judge.

However, as the autumn term finishes and everyone in the FE and vocational sector hopefully gets some time to reflect over the festive break, the thoughts of some may turn to the New Year and the professional development they might seek in 2021 to continue their career journey.

As part of this professional development, some might consider becoming a school or college governor. In 2019, Education and Employers and our partners the National Governance Association (NGA) launched the Educators on Board campaign, backed by a wide range of professional associations and sector organisations.

The aim of the campaign was to encourage those in the education sector to consider joining a governing board - from schools to the DfE, from HEIs to Awarding Bodies, from FE and Sixth Form Colleges to professional associations. Education expertise and challenge is one of the most sought-after skill sets for governing boards in all sectors and your insight really can make a difference. An alternative to a college board are multi-academy trusts (MATs), which is where a number of schools join together and form a single Trust with a Board of Trustees answerable to the trust’s members.

It’s true that joining a governing board is a commitment for already hard-pressed teachers and lecturers but for those who choose to do so, it can also be incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally. It can give an insight into how a school or college works at a strategic level and those becoming a governor/ trustee have the opportunity to develop a wide array of skills that they may not develop in their day-to-day role.

For example, this might be strategic overview of finance, working with stakeholders, operating at board level or even the softer leadership skills like persuading, influencing and teamwork that are so important to securing the next career step.

In fact, research backs this up with successive surveys from the NGA showing that over three quarters of governors feel they positively transfer the skills they learn as governors into the workplace. Education and Employers own forthcoming research, launched with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CiPD), on The Value of Volunteering also bears this out with volunteers reporting better productivity, motivation and well-being – the latter so important in this current time where many of us have felt isolated through the pandemic.

As one of our own charity’s trustees and a serving headteacher puts it: “You gain an understanding of how others do things and what your school could do differently on matters such as pedagogy, human resources and governance. You also get to see a different side to when you work with other schools, governing enables you to see the inner workings and why some schools do the things they do. After all, we are all striving for excellence.” Karen Giles (Headteacher, Barham Primary School, Trustee of Education and Employers Charity and Chair of Trustees at Inspire Partnership).

Two women in a meeting at a college

Two women in a meeting at a college

If you want to find out more about governance opportunities and begin your journey into school or college governance, please visit the Inspiring Governance website and the Inspiring FE Governance website in association with the Education and Training Foundation (ETF).

Dominic Judge is Director of Governance Programmes and Director of Education and Employers.