Use your Spare time wisely

Schools, including academies, in the Medway towns and surrounds  are always looking for great people to volunteer to get involved in their governance and help ensure that young people get the education they need to ensure they succeed in later life. 


Schools now operate a variety of governance structures and vacancies exist at every level including as Multi Academy Trust trustees, with governance responsibility for several schools,  Local governing or advisory boards within those trusts and as governors in Local Authority maintained schools. 


In every instance the responsibility is a corporate one, which means that no individual has personal authority or accountability (other than to the board) but that authority and accountability  rests with the governing board as a whole  



The role

School governance is not a full-time job but does involve a time commitment. The exact commitment will vary depending on the school or Trust's circumstances but is usually in the order of between 60 and 80 hours per year, mostly during school term time. This time is mainly spent reading papers;  attending meetings and training;  getting to know the school and understand the community it serves; and carrying out occasional monitoring visits, normally a maximum of three per year.  Governors and trustees may also be called upon to serve on panels to review decisions made by the school relating to student discipline, or arbitrating on matters where the school's internal procedures have been exhausted.  Unsurprisingly given the size of the school populations, these panels tend to arise more frequently in secondary rather than primary schools.   Meeting times vary from school to school but are often in the evening. 


Although voluntary, the role is very much a serious one as a key part of the strategic leadership of the school or Trust.  Time is mostly spent with other adults engaged in defining ambitious but realistic longer term organisational  aims; setting broad policies that provide parameters  for the executive leader  ( CEO or headteacher) to work within; checking on progress or compliance; and holding the executive leader  to account for both achievement of those aims as well as for securing excellent educational outcomes for children in the school(s) today - all within the financial resources available.  In short, executive leaders  run the school or group of schools but governance make sure they run well to meet the current and future needs of the community they serve . 


While children and young people are at the very heart of what  school governance is, this is not a role for those primarily interested in lots of interaction with them.  Their safeguarding however, is our number one priority and as such all governors are required to undergo a disclosure and barring check to confirm their suitability to volunteer in this field.  


(Schools are always crying out for volunteers to help with reading, fundraising and all manner of other activities, so if this rather than governance is your interest, please do contact your local school(s) and ask about any opportunities available)


Schools in Medway


Schools in Kent



About You

You don't need a background in education or be a high flying executive to make a successful contribution to school governance,  but you will need to be over 18 with some essential  skills and attributes.  


Chief among these are:

  • The time and commitment to actively participate in the work of the governing board including through taking responsibility for your own training and development; 
  • A genuine and significant interest in all children getting the education they need to succeed
  • Personal integrity and the ability to set aside personal or partisan  interests in favour of those of the whole community the school serves
  • The ability and willingness to work as part of a group, engaging actively, assertively and constructively in debate and shared workload (often those panels and monitoring visits mentioned earlier)  but honouring group decisions when they are made
  • The ability to zoom out from the detail and primarily think and operate at a future focused and big picture  macro rather than micro level
  • An intellect that allow you to think critically about and make sense of a wide range of information and data. This  includes having  the  foresight to be able consider the impact of current decision-making on future outcomes
  • A willingness to support the executive leader and his or her wellbeing and at the same time have the confidence and inquisitiveness  to ask curious, sometimes tough questions and contribute objectively to strategic decision-making, in the interests of the school or Trust community and its children  

Individuals who bring specific skills and/or successful experience related to any of the following areas in addition to those listed above are particularly encouraged to put themselves forward.  It is not expected that these skills are used in any kind of pro bono sense, rather to equip the board with the knowledge to underpin its decision-making and ask more of the right questions when supportively challenging the executive leadership, as well as identify when the school or the board itself should engage professional advice.

  • Serving on a board in another sector
  • Leading organisations 
  • Financial skills including those related to income generation, budgeting, financial efficiency, auditing 
  • Human Resources 
  • Legal services and compliance 
  • Land, premises and facilities management
  • Health and Safety
  • Growth, change and risk management
  • PR, marketing and social media 
  • Impact and data analysis 
  • Education 


Career Development

While its never a good idea to get involved in school governance just to further your career, it would be a mistake to ignore its potential to provide excellent professional development for those aspiring to leadership roles in both schools and other fields. 


We particularly encourage school middle and senior leaders aspiring to headship  to  gain a wide range of  governance experience, preferably in a school other than that in which they work. 


We also very much welcome interest from university students and young professionals who are willing to commit at least two years to a governing board to bring a younger perspective - You'll get a great grounding in strategic leadership in return! 

Still interested?

If you are ready to express your interest, please have a look at the disqualification criteria at the bottom of the page just to check you are eligible to stand, then  submit your details by completing the questionnaire at this link  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/58QRJYX


When we receive your completed questionnaire, we will make your details available anonymously to governing boards with vacancies, taking into account any preferences you may have and where possible matching your skill and experience set to their expressed needs. As a governing board indicates an interest, we will contact you to confirm you are happy for us to pass your contact details to a the chair or clerk of that governing board, who will normally then make arrangements for you to visit the school for an informal discussion and to see the school at work.  We will NEVER pass on your contact details without your express permission. 

  

Alternatively, if you need a little more information before you make up your mind, please get in touch with Marianne.luckhurst@ocelot.org.uk or give her a call on 01634 957782

What are the criteria for disqualification in an academy (pdf)

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What are the criteria for disqualification in a maintained school (pdf)

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