Volunteering at a school might sound like the last thing you’d want to do as a teacher - but if you’re looking to take the next step in your career, joining a school board is an effective way to get varied experience. Volunteering in the role is recognised as a valuable professional development opportunity, and could help you progress.
Governors for Schools is a national education charity that finds and places volunteers as governors on school and academy boards. We work with a number of corporate partners, including Deloitte, KPMG, and Barclays, who value the professional benefits employees bring back to the workplace from their time volunteering as a school governor.
However, these benefits aren’t exclusive to the private sector. Governors help plan a school’s strategy, manage budgets, and hold the school leadership to account. Teachers stand to benefit in a number of ways from joining a board, gaining experience outside the classroom that can otherwise be hard to come by.
Boards want teachers as governors
Educational skills are in the top three most requested skills from schools that register their vacancies with us. Schools want teachers on their governing boards to bring both their experience of working in education and insight into how other schools do things.
Teachers see the effects of the governing board’s decisions on the pupils and the school. By volunteering your skills at another school, you’ll see how they manage their budgets, support their children and staff, and manage the challenges that all schools face.
You can shape the direction of a school as a governor, enhancing the educational outcomes of children beyond those in your classroom.
How can volunteering as a governor benefit your teaching career?
Gain a better understanding of policy and insight into how schools are managed
As part of the governing board, you’ll see what goes into the running of the school, which can help you understand more about your own school and why certain decisions are made.
In your day job, you may not have lots of involvement with issues around pupil premium funding, health and safety, or planning budgets. These will be common items on the board’s agenda, broadening your experience while demonstrating the myriad of issues schools manage outside of the classroom.
‘Becoming a governor has helped me in my day to day job – as a teacher, I don’t really get to see the strategic overview or the decisions made higher up. I don’t think that’s unique to teaching – I think in lots of jobs you don’t see the oversight of how decisions impact day to day work. I’ve learnt so much about financial planning and strategic thinking, and I’ve been involved in making some big decisions that I wouldn’t get to do otherwise.’ Natalie, a teacher in London
Learn to use data more effectively
Part of a governor’s role is looking at data, spotting patterns and asking questions where there is an anomaly. Teachers may be well versed at looking at data for their own students, but looking at data from an outside perspective gives you the ability to spot patterns you might not otherwise have seen.
Work with people from different professional backgrounds
Governing boards are made up of people from a variety of different personal and professional backgrounds. It’s important that boards are diverse to ensure effective challenge and to avoid groupthink. Becoming a governor is an opportunity to learn more about new fields and hear alternative views outside of the education sphere. It’s also a chance to learn from experienced professionals – you might pick up ideas of how situations would be handled in an organisation that could be useful to you in your role.
There are parent governors on every board, so you’ll hear their perspective, which you may not always be exposed to as a teacher.
Teachers make excellent governors, and by joining a school board you will have the opportunity to positively impact more young lives while developing your own skills.
Interested in becoming a school governor?
Find out more about the role, how to apply, and the process of joining a school board. Governors for Schools has lots of support for new governors, including eLearning modules and resources, so that you can provide effective governance from your first meeting.
Apply online with Governors for Schools and the charity will match your skills with a school in need.