• A day in the life of a school governor and HR consultant

    Published: March 21 2024

    If I am honest, I really struggled to write this. However, after talking to my colleagues I realised that really a day in the life of a governor is no different from a day in a life of me before I was a governor, with my role as an HR consultant.

    As most of us do, I go to work, do the work, come home, do the housework, and try and have some fun outside of this. I have always said I wanted to give something back to the community but wasn’t sure how to do this until I was asked if I wanted to help out as an Interim Governing Body Member. Fast forward to today and I have just celebrated my two year anniversary this month.

    I have worked in HR for over a decade and am L7 CIPD qualified, and this is my first appointment as a governor at a nursery and primary school which started in March 2022.

    In the beginning I was inducted with a walk around the school with the headteacher. I am not a parent and have not been in a primary school since I left my own in 1996. At roughly five foot nothing I have never felt so tall, and I do not remember schools in the 90s ever being so colourful or interactive. I was assigned some training and given a pack of all their policies to read and understand.

    My role as a governor is to oversee the management side of a school: strategy, policy, budgeting, and staffing. The board is made up of parents and professionals from the local community. I describe it in two parts, one is attending meetings of which there are normally six a year (one per term), attendees include the other governors, our chair, the head teacher and deputy and the trust leader. In the meetings our agenda often sees us reviewing policies, a report from the head teacher where we ask questions designed to challenge the data to seek improvements and to offer any insights or thoughts we may have which can help improve the school, and reviewing finances.

    The other part is the data monitoring sessions, these are where the governors spend several hours either watching or discussing items with the teachers and/or headteacher. The focus of the data monitoring sessions includes topics such as safeguarding and leadership. We also must routinely undertake training to ensure that is up to date. The findings are then reported and discussed at the governor meetings.

    Sometimes, schools also receive a phone call that is thought about 24/7, you’ve guessed it, Ofsted! Some governors will need to attend the school during Ofsted which can be a challenge when your job like mine and is driven by clients. It may not be possible to be available on the short notice that Ofsted provide, which is usually less than 24 hours notice of their arrival, with their visit to the school usually only lasting two days. My school recently got the call just after midday and we had a governors’ meeting that evening, we discussed the questions that they may ask and considered our answers to these questions in preparation.

    One responsibility of a governor that I have not experienced is in fact the side that is more related to HR. On occasions governors may need to be involved in investigations and hearings. Being a HR consultant I have been on the other side of this when governors have utilised Kent HR to carry out workplace investigations on their behalf, this can be time consuming and stressful for the governor especially when the governor has limited experience of people management or HR processes. HR processes, particularly where it has led to governor involvement can be lengthy and governors need to manage this around their existing responsibilities.

    Being a governor has given me a chance to give back to the community and allowed me to develop additional transferable skills whilst utilising my existing skills to help improve a school within my local community.

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