2019 Autumn Term 2


  • A solid foundation
    Good schools are built on good teachers, but we face a severe shortage of teachers says Sam Sims, Research Fellow at UCL Institute of Education (IOE). Here, he explains the thinking around a new collaboration between ASCL and IOE to help with teachers' job satisfaction and retention. More
  • Getting educators on board
    Supporting another school or trust by joining its governing board offers a fantastic professional development opportunity for school leaders says Dominic Judge from Education and Employers. More
  • Smoke & mirrors?
    The long-awaited government spending round has been and gone, but what does it actually mean for your school? Is the government finally addressing the funding shortages in education, or just hiding behind a smokescreen? Here ASCL Funding Specialist, Julia Harnden, talks us through the detail. More
  • Change makers
    Gohar Khan, Director of Ethos at Didcot Girls' School in Oxford, shares her school's desire to create the next generation of female leaders. More
  • All in the mind
    Ruby Wax made her name as a writer and comedian but, in recent years, has become a vocal advocate for mental health and will give a keynote speech at ASCL's Annual Conference in 2020. She spoke to Julie Nightingale. More
  • Diverse thinking
    We need leaders and governors to reflect a society and a school population that is diverse and varied, and be all the richer for it says Geoff Barton. Here he highlights how we can all help to make that change. More
  • Our united vision
    This is the first in a new regular update in Leader to provide you with the latest information from our colleagues across the nation. ASCL is proud to represent school and college leaders from all over the UK. More
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Supporting another school or trust by joining its governing board offers a fantastic professional development opportunity for school leaders says Dominic Judge from Education and Employers.

Getting Educators on Board

Sharing their experiences in a campaign by the National Governance Association (NGA) and Inspiring Governance, three senior leaders give their views on why being an educator on a board benefits them and the schools they work with.

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“Being a governor is truly continuous professional development – I learn something new on every visit and in every meeting,” says Rob Leitch, Deputy Headteacher of a secondary school in the London Borough of Bromley and Chair of Governors at a secondary school in a neighbouring borough. “It also strengthens your ability to reflect on your own practice within your normal environment – sitting on the other side of the governing table can really drive self-reflection.”

For aspiring leaders in particular, governing is a useful way to improve practice, and to gain experience of strategic leadership skills that will be sought by those appointing executive and senior leaders.

“I have moved from being a middle leader to being part of the senior leadership team quite quickly, and this means I need to know and be involved in things that aren’t just my specialist area,” says Amanda Marson, a senior leader at a primary pupil referral unit in Wolverhampton who governs in a local primary school. “This is where being a governor has really benefited me. There are things I am not as confident with but I have picked up skills and knowledge through overseeing different aspects as a governor and listening to the questions and feedback of others.”

This view is shared by David Rogers, Assistant Principal at a large secondary academy in Littlehampton and Chair of governors in a nearby Church of England primary school. “As a member of staff, you only really know about the things you need to know about, things which affect you. As a governor you have the depth and a broad knowledge, and a much wider view of accountability. I now know about things that are outside my remit and look at how things all work together.”

A moral purpose

Being a governor is often described as challenging but immensely rewarding. Besides the tangible benefits of professional development and growing networks comes the pride in supporting other schools to provide the best possible education for their pupils.

“Everyone walks away with something and everyone has something to offer – there is a real sense of achievement and satisfaction in seeing what can be achieved,” says Amanda.

Rob agrees that “it is exciting to be part of driving school improvement from another angle and to have an impact on a wider community. Governing is a voluntary role and a truly rewarding one – you feel such pride by investing in another school and trying to support another set of young people.”

“Educators have a moral purpose to do their best for children,” says David “Getting high-quality governors is difficult but educators can make a difference to local children wherever they are by giving their time to the role.”

The benefits for boards and schools

To be effective, governing boards must have a balance and diversity of knowledge, skills and experience – including that of education professionals. One of the three core functions of a governing board is to hold executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the school, something that those working in education are especially well-placed to do. “If you are involved in education you will instinctively use and understand the same language as those you are holding to account,” says Rob. “This helps to build confidence as a new governor, enabling you to robustly challenge leaders on important issues in a very honest and authentic manner.” This view is shared by David, who says “having a working knowledge of accountability, data, workload, pupil premium and the like enables me to ask much better questions and challenge the executive leaders more effectively”.

There are lots of expertise and experience that education professionals can offer to the discussions and decisions on a board, but there is plenty to gain, too. “My own employer sees my governing role in a really beneficial light as it broadens my own experience and skill set, which can then be used in my own school. Picking up examples of best practice, building valuable contacts and being able to provide a different perspective are just some of the benefits,” says Rob. Amanda’s experience reflects this. “The school where I am employed is really supportive of me governing – after all, our focus is the same across both settings. The training I’ve had in my role as a governor I can bring back to the school where I am employed, and it benefits them too. In my training and role, I get the point of view of other professionals and perhaps things my school hasn’t considered.”

Time to govern

So, how do they manage the commitment of time and energy? “You need to have a work–life balance, but I get something out of it so I make the time,” says Amanda. “If you plan smartly and are clear about what’s expected from the outset, it’s not that much work. I am inspired by the people I govern with, it is something I am passionate about and driven to do, so I just get on and do it.”

David agrees. “It is a voluntary role but an important role. Schools need to support each other – it’s about give and take. The time commitment is very possible. You do need to think smartly about how you use your time but the benefits outweigh the downs.” Rob adds, “Of course it requires extra commitment, but I think it is much more manageable than sometimes people might imagine. It wouldn’t, however, be possible without the support of my employer.”

How to volunteer

If you want to support another school by joining their governing board, or the board at your school could benefit from the expertise and experience of an education professional, sign up to Inspiring Governance, the DfE-funded service that connects volunteers interested in becoming a governor/trustee with schools that need them. www.inspiringgovernance.org

Thanks to the following contributors for taking time to help with this article (l-r): Rob Leitch, Amanda Marson, David Rogers

Dominic Judge
Director of Governance
Programmes at Education and Employers