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So I’m a New Governor – What Now?

How and Why to Write a Class Rap

If you’re a new governor, particularly if you have had experience of working in schools before those first few meetings can be particularly daunting. Education can be like its own language sometimes that seems to take delight in describing the very simple through the most complicated collection of terms and acronyms possible.

With that in mind, here are five top tips to help you hit the ground running quickly as a new governor.

1) Ask if you can have a mentor from the governing body

Having a mentor or a buddy who’se been on the governing body for some time can be really useful. It means you can ask them openly and honestly about how the governing body works and what the situation at the school is. Plus, it means if you have any questions you don’t have to ask them in front of the main governing body meeting.


2) Arrange a time to go into school and chat to staff

You may be a parent governor and you feel you know your way around the school pretty well, but even then it’s a really valuable experience going in to school and chatting to the headteacher and members of staff, and perhaps sitting in on a few lessons as well. There’s no substitute for just seeing how the school works day to day. It’s worth bearing in mind that school often have a policy on govenor visits and it’s good practice to arrange the date and time of your visit with the head.


3) Sign yourself up for as many training sessions as possible

Most local authorities run good free training sessions for governors on all kinds of topics. It’s worth signing up for as many of these as you can realistically manage in the early stages. Firstly they’re great ways to learn quickly about some of the key issues you’ll be facing, but also they’re a great opportunity to meet and chat to governors from other schools. Plus you can often get free tea and biscuits!


4) Get yourself on some committees and a become a linked governor

The main governing body is where all the big decisions happen, but if you really want to affect things on a nuts and bolts level, this can only be done by joining some of the governing bodies committees. Plus some governing bodies allow you to be linked to a certain subject or area which allows you to specialise in a certain topic. This in particular can be very rewarding. You can go into school and spend some time seeing exactly how that area works and become this governing body’s expert on that topic.


5) Look to other sources of information

There is loads of information for governors out there, and here is a far from exhaustive list

  • The Guide to the Law is a very useful resource, but perhaps is a bit dense for bedtime reading! Good, but not recently updated.
  • The DfE have other useful governor resources
  • Teachers TV has many good summary programmes for governors, most lasting just 15 minutes. You can now find them on our website here.
  • Your governing body terms of reference should tell you what each committee is meant to do
  • Your school’s policies should have been ratified by governors, and should represent how they want the school to be run in many of its key aspects
  • The National Governors Association can also be a useful source of advice

Do you have any more top tips? Let me know!


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Tom Hesmondhalgh

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