What motivates people to join the largest volunteer force in the country?

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Hundreds of people up-and-down the country will be sitting around a meeting table for the first time this term. We spoke to one such school governor, David Watkins, to find out why he got involved.

David teaches at an independent school in Reading and is now a governor at a small, rural school just south of Newbury which falls within Hampshire local authority.

So what made you decide to become a school governor, David?

I am currently a Head of Department in an independent secondary school and I recently went on a “Preparing for Senior Leadership” course. At the end of the day, I asked the course director what other leadership training she’d recommend and she said, “Get yourself on a governing body because you will see that other side of school leadership. It will give you that behind-the-scenes aspect which will really help in the long run.”

We’ve also just had our first child and moved to a new area and I wanted to give something back to the local community whilst getting to know more local people. The primary school experience is not too far away!

How have you found it so far?

It has been a superb experience so far. I am really pleased to have joined such a supportive governing body. All new governors have been assigned a buddy to guide and advise them in their new role. Within education, CPD is expensive but I have already attended some excellent training on the role of a governor, the new Ofsted inspection framework and soon I’m attending training on setting the strategic direction for the school. This is excellent continued professional development that is provided for free.

What skills are you hoping to bring to the board?

I hope my background in education and leadership will be beneficial. It should help me focus on the issues that really matter and help the school to set the right strategic direction. I am also familiar with school data, which should help.

But what I’m really hoping is to make sure the school is addressing wellbeing. Schools are pretty high pressure places these days. I hope as a governor this is something I can help with – to encourage the board to take a step back and ask, ‘What do Ofsted actually need? What’s important? How do we make sure we manage the wellbeing of staff and pupils in the school?’ This comes from my own understanding of what it’s like to work in schools at the moment.

Being a governor definitely isn’t something that was on my radar beforehand, I wasn’t aware of the benefits but I’m really pleased I’ve taken it on and I’ve been quite fortunate that the school where I work have supported me in taking up this role. 

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