* * *In October I'll be at the end of my first 4-year term as a school governor. I thought I'd mark this occasion (prior to throwing myself at the feet of the school electorate again) by giving Typecast readers a soupçon of what I've learned. I give you...
The Chancers Guide To School Governance
1) Do It For The Right Reasons
Need your CV boosting a bit? Hobbies and pastimes section lacking serious meat? Worried "online bingo" and "watching TV" may lack credibility? Become a school governor and add instant gravitas to your resumé! Prospective employers will be impressed by your altruistic nature and sense of civic duty. They may even be willing to give you time off to do "important meetings", ie for cricket, golf, football or any other unmissable event. *nudge, wink* Governance is also perfect for assuaging your nouveau riche guilt. If you're a successful entrepreneur and are suffering a nagging desire to give something back (but not the money - heaven forbid) school governance will welcome you with open arms without you having to open your wallet.
2) Do Your Homework
School governance requires a wide knowledge of education issues, and involves much reading. Sounds tedious, right? Life's too short, wouldn't you say? This is why it is important you identify early on the existence of fellow governors who will do this so you don't have to. Every governing body has some. They love it, so don’t feel guilty. They will enable you to leave agendas and supporting documents unopened until just before the meeting starts, and subsequently let the non-stop stream of education jargon and acronyms wash over you. Do also try to learn off by heart the name of the school, the name of the head teacher (they are the only staff member worth bothering with) and the name of the Chair. You never know when you might need them!
3) Do Possess The Necessary Skills
All governors bring something different to the table. Some skills you may consider to be useful are:
a) Nodding your head vigorously and saying, "I agree" at random points during meeting;
b) Taking an inordinate amount of interest in your shoes when someone is asking for volunteers;
c) Affecting a compassionate and concerned look if accosted by a parent;
d) Blagging reserved seating at the Christmas concert;
4) Do get involved in school.
There will be lots of opportunities to get to know the school, its pupils and its staff better. The lucky governor will find many chances to flirt with the young NQTs who, through lack of understanding, will think you are powerful and important. One word of caution to male governors: admin staff are usually menopausal and desperate, and PE teachers are all lesbians. Even the men. Also, despite what you may think, there are no funny jokes to be had around the phrase, "French oral". And of course, there is the reason we do it in the first place. No, not ourselves, silly! The OTHER reason: the children. If you find yourself inadvertently volunteered for something in which pupil contact is unavoidable, such as a school trip or activity day, remember three simple, stock phrases:
- Put that down
- Go ask the teacher
- I thought I told you to put that down! I don't bloody care if you tell your dad. Do you know who I am you little -
Well there we have it. Four years of governance boiled down into four golden rules. If it has inspired you to give school governance a go, GOOD LUCK AND GOOD GOVERNING!!
PS: I hope you laughed while reading this. My tongue is stuck so firmly in my cheek it is almost poking out and touching my right nostril. The truth is, school governors are the largest volunteer force in the country. They give their time and energies willingly and for free in order to help provide our children with a good education. By and large they are an extremely committed and passionate bunch. I’ve enjoyed my first four years and I hope I can be allowed a stab at four more. The role can be frustrating, thrilling, annoying and exhilarating. Sometimes all in the same month. The undeniable fact is there are always vacancies for people who are willing to make a difference. If you want to be a school governor, ask at your local school if they have any seats up for grabs.