What would your first response be to a friend or acquaintance telling you they are joining a school governing board for the first time? I suppose I would offer some warm, congratulatory words about taking on an incredibly important role that will help shape young lives. True and possibly motivating, but not very practical. I could, perhaps, be the voice of experience and point out how challenging the role really is. Also true but I would not want to put them off.
On reflection, I think I’d keep it simple, practical and say that governing is not only an immense privilege, but also a fantastic learning experience that starts right away. Then give them my three- point plan:
- Ask the clerk to your board (its governance professional) to confirm your induction programme of introductory visits, meetings, a welcome pack, and an induction training course.
- Use knowledgeable people close to hand: the clerk is an invaluable source and you should also be offered a buddy or mentor, perhaps the vice-chair of the board. If you aren’t offered one, do ask
- Access the resources for new governors and trustees available on the NGA website and, if you govern at a single school, get hold of the latest edition of Welcome to Governance.
OK, I admit I am biased, highlighting the excellent support NGA offers to governors and trustees during the first few months of their role and beyond, and especially Welcome to Governance, our popular induction guide, which I also happen to edit. However, I can honestly think of no better reading for anyone who wishes to gain a clear and practical understanding of governing at a single school.
Our intention for Welcome to Governance is simple: we want it to be a good, accessible read and demonstrate how a new volunteer can make a valuable contribution almost from the moment they take their seat around the table. That does not mean you have to be new to get something out of it. Welcome to Governance also serves anyone who wants to refresh their knowledge of roles and responsibilities through the content, which includes:
- explanations of the four core strategic functions of governance, including stakeholder engagement, which NGA has adopted as the fourth core function
- three basic actions at the end of each chapter you can take to embed your learning and start you on the path to becoming effective in the role
- a chapter of further resources, such as governor and trustee role descriptions and guidance on the responsibilities of academy committees
- an updated glossary of commonly used acronyms
- opportunity to extend learning through signposting to guidance on our Knowledge Centre, and e-learning available through Learning Link.
The latest (thirteenth) edition has been updated to include, amongst other things, areas for governors to cover when discussing financial efficiency in their schools at board meetings. Also, how governing boards contribute towards their schools being great places to work.
I would sign off my three-point plan as I intend to sign off this short blog: by saying good luck to those new to governing and do keep in touch.
Get the new edition of Welcome to Governance, designed for school governors, trustees of single academy trusts and academy committee (local governing body) members within a MAT.
New governors and trustees with NGA GOLD or MAT membership can also sign up for one of our Welcome to Governance LIVE sessions, which build on the induction guides, focusing on how new governors and trustees can make an impact in the first six months of their role.