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13 September 2018 | By Alister Bould Community

Why businesses should consider going back to school

Volunteering as a governor is a win-win for all those involved, says Alister Bould at charity Education and Employers

Now the school summer holidays are over and the new academic year has begun, it is a good time to consider how your business can build stronger links with local schools and colleges. Businesses have so much to offer to schools, but sometimes it is difficult to know where to start.

Supporting your staff to become involved in school governance provides the perfect solution. There are clear benefits to business, quite apart from the feel-good factor of helping improve the life chances of young people.

Schools and colleges need business experience on their governing bodies.  Put simply, running a successful school is very challenging. In England, a quarter of a million people already volunteer as school governors making it one of the largest volunteer forces in the country. But despite this, approximately one in 10 school governor positions are vacant.

A fresh perspective

Employees bring essential commercial skills and experience when they join school governing bodies. Often they will be recruited for a specific expertise that is missing from around the governing body table, but what they also bring is professional rigour and a fresh perspective. These skills are crucial in creating a governing body that is as good as it can be and who, in turn, can support and challenge a school to be the best that it can.

And it’s not just the schools that benefit. 

Supporting staff to be governors is a great way to engage with the local community and to help shape the workforce of the future. What is more, it also provides a significant personal development opportunity for employees.

School governing bodies are responsible for setting strategy, overseeing financial performance and holding senior leaders to account, so volunteers gain experience in, among other things, strategic planning and the management of finances and people. They also develop wider skills from working as part of a management team in a board-level environment. All of this experience is then brought back into the workplace. As a result, organisations reap the benefit of better qualified, more highly motivated staff.

This really is a win-win situation

Schools and colleges benefit from having business acumen on their governing boards; young people benefit from the best possible education; and individuals get the opportunity to undertake a rewarding role while developing valuable new skills. In supporting employees to volunteer, organisations benefit from free workforce development and, at the same time, make a real and lasting impact in their local community.

When talking about the ways in which employers can make a positive contribution to their communities, the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, recently pointed out that, “few are as far reaching in their impact as being a governor or trustee at a school or college.”

So, instead of asking: “Why should I get involved in school governance?” perhaps the question should be “Why wouldn’t I get involved in school governance?”

Inspiring Governance is a school governance recruitment and support service.  This free service, funded by the Department for Education, makes it quick and easy for volunteers to find suitable governor vacancies. Support can be provided to employers wanting to set up and manage a governance scheme.  In addition, all appointees receive free dedicated support and CPD accredited online training from the National Governance Association.

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