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Governors and trustees from ethnic minorities account for just 4% of the country’s largest volunteer force, whilst 10% governors and trustees are aged under 40 according to the annual school governance survey 2017. This compares to around a third of school pupils being from an ethnic minority. To address this historic underrepresentation, and to improve outcomes for all pupils, Inspiring Governance and the National Governance Association have announced the Everyone on Board campaign which aims to increase the participation of people from ethnic minorities and young people in school governance.
“Education is so powerful and one of the biggest tools for social mobility, so people making decisions about education need to be the best and the brightest and, by rights, should be diverse. In my experience, being a diverse board enables us to reach further in to our school community – they trust us more and know we have their best interests at heart because we consider a broader range of views.” Yinka Ewuola, Cobourg Primary School
Research from 1999 in to the composition of school governing boards, commissioned by the then Department for Education and Employment, found that 5% governors came from ethnic minorities. This stark statistic has endured over the course of two decades, despite the demographic of our society changing significantly. There have been a range of initiatives attempting to address the diversity of school governing boards, but these have been neither signiﬁcant nor sustainable.
Adding new governors/trustees to the governing board who are reﬂective of (but not representatives of) the community the school serves can help it make better decisions in the interest of all pupils.
“In my community, young people often have low aspirations. Seeing me, a young governor from an ethnic minority background can really inspire them and change their perceptions of what they can achieve. Volunteering with a group of experienced and passionate people is immensely rewarding – I learn so much while bringing different ideas and opinions from my recent experiences of being in education, and feel that I can closely relate to the pupils that our decisions impact on.” Jordan Holder, Copleston High School.
It is important to note that we say governing boards should reﬂect – not represent – the community. While bringing a range of perspectives makes for better decision-making, governors and trustees must understand that they are not on the board to represent anyone or a particular group but to use their own judgment to act in the best interests of all pupils at the school.
Inspiring Governance, the school governance recruitment service, are using the film above to encourage people from ethnic minorities and young people to share their skills, experience and insights as school governors. Governing boards can register to access these volunteers here.