Getting to grips with the role


What was the issue addressed?
There is no shortcut to the fact that when you start as a governor (as in any job), there is an awful lot to learn. In my experience the process of induction is still very paper-led and, as such, learning is very one-way. There are some existing support structures in place (such as Governors Services Cymru) which I think quite highly of but there is a responsibility on the new governor to seek out answers to questions they might have.

What happened?
I spent a lot of time looking for advice and guidance online as well as simply asking questions. Unless a quick question/answer opportunity would arise in the course of a meeting, I would often speak to another governor or teacher at the completion of a meeting and ask questions to make sure I understood everything properly.

Again, I’ve been to some training events with Governors Services Cymru, which have been very useful.

What lessons were learnt?
The key thing is finding a trusted source for information that is current, relevant and useful.

All new governors must attend mandatory training on induction and understanding school data, which is provided by your Local Authority or Regional Consortium. This training must be completed within 12 months of being appointed or elected. This will give you more of an understanding of the governor role. Here are the links to the guidance on the training:

Understanding school data

Online training is also available in some areas, as well as lots of other governor training to help you with your role and responsibilities.

Does your governing body assign a mentor governor for new governors? This is excellent practice and can help new governors feel more at ease, and give them confidence to contribute effectively at meetings. Have a look at Governors Cymru Services model job description for a mentor governor.

So, in order for new governors to get up to speed with what is happening at the school and what the priorities are, it is helpful for the school to prepare “an information pack”, which includes a copy of the School Development Plan, the latest Annual Report to Parents, governing body minutes, list of governors etc. Have a look here for a full list of documents that may help new governors.

Many governing bodies will arrange a welcome meeting with the Headteacher, the Chair and the new governor. This is a useful way to get to know more about the school and the governing body from the very beginning.

Governors Cymru Services also has a handbook for governors which includes everything you need to know about being a governor, such as what is expected of a governor, the three main roles of the governing body, what happens at meetings and much more.

Your Local Authority will also have a range of information and support that you can use too.

Being a governor can be a very rewarding experience – enjoy it! There is lots of useful support and advice available to help you on your journey.

What could your GB do to support new governors better?
What resources have you found helpful and have you shared these with fellow governors?

Have your say…
Have you had experiences similar to these?
What do you think about the situation described?

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