Recruiting governors for schools is an important task to get right, to hold decision-making of the senior leadership team and the outcomes of the school to account. A governing body requires a diverse skill set and the wider variety of backgrounds of governors, the more effective the board is likely to be. But with this being a voluntary role that has to fit around other commitments, recruiting school governors isn’t always easy.
Here are 7 key tips to help improve your school governor recruitment process:
1. Prepare detailed recruitment materials that fully outline the role and expectations of school governors
Even interested applicants with an education background might not be fully aware of what a school governor does, when and how, and what their day-to-day involvement with a school is. By providing a detailed description of the job, the skills required, how governor meetings work, the induction process and what training they might receive to enhance their effectiveness in this role will help answer those initial questions. Be sure to include contact details for the recruitment lead. With this information and reassurance, applicants will be encouraged to reach out for a further discussion, or even apply there and then.
2. Raise the profile of the role by praising the work of governors in your school or trust and wider community
If interested applicants can see the value of the role to school life, outcomes for pupils, and the impact of the school in the wider community, it enhances the attractiveness of this voluntary role. It may also help attract those looking to volunteer their time to a good cause who wouldn’t otherwise have thought of a school governor position.
3. Host ‘meet the board’ evenings at your school for interested applicants to meet school governors
Providing prospective applicants with the opportunity to put questions to current governors, and learn more about the role in an informal setting such as an open evening can help attract a wider pool of applicants. If you join this event up with something that can involve pupils, such as a bake sale fundraiser or even a parents evening, you’re likely to engage more prospective parent governors.
4. Conduct a skills audit of your current board members to identify the skills needed by a new school governor, and tailor the advertisement and choice of advertising platform
Its beneficial to prospective governors, the current board and the wider school to ensure that new governors bring useful skills to the table. Bringing together a governing body with a diverse skill set will help prevent sometimes unhelpful ‘groupthink’ and improve the outcomes of the board. With so many skills inherent to the work of a governing body, including financial oversight, challenging decision-making, safeguarding and supporting pupil progress and wellbeing, its vital to bring together a team of people with a vast range of experiences and expertise.
If you realise that no one on the board has auditing skills for example, you might want to include this as something desirable in the role advertisement. It will be up to the board and senior leadership team to determine how vital it is to recruit solely based on skills required, as upskilling current governors is also on option, for example by attending a training course or a conference where they can network with peers and learn best practice.
If the required skill is crucial to why you’re recruiting for a new governor, it’s worth considering placing the advertisement in online recruitment forums targeted to professionals likely to have those abilities. An experienced auditor for example might be more likely to visit a website for financial services professionals rather than your school website, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be interested in the role if they saw it!
5. Reach out to local authorities and other local networks to help advertise your school governor vacancy
Local authorities can help your recruitment efforts by sharing the school governor vacancy through local education forums. Networks in your area such as parent and toddler groups, volunteer coordinator groups, or parent-teacher associations are also worth contacting to help spread the word about your need for a new governor. There are also free online tools you can use, such as Governors for Schools.
6. Encourage diversity in your school by setting an example from the top down
As mentioned, its extremely beneficial and important to encourage diverse leadership and governance in any school setting. Not only does it make a more effective team, but also encourages acceptance and understanding among staff, students, and the wider community.
But entering these positions of leadership is not always easy, and it can’t be assumed that everyone is able to make the most of the same opportunities. Do your research, and think about the barriers to entry that prospective governors may face. These may be around time because of professional or personal commitments, lack of financial flexibility to take on a voluntary role, a sense of inadequate experience, or even not feeling accepted by the wider community. Make sure you take into consideration how you can facilitate and encourage anyone and everyone to apply for the role.
7. Clearly advertise incentives for being a school governor
As with any role, interested candidates are likely to want to know about the benefits of becoming a school governor, so its advised to ensure these are also stated in your advertisement for the role. Draw up a list of what these are, including what the school offers the governing board, what outcomes will they contribute to, what skills can they learn, and speak to your current school governors to get their thoughts on what they see as the benefits of the role.
Making sure new governors feel supported in their role will be vital for their progress as a member of the board, and their retention. Providing training and CPD opportunities is a great way to deliver this support which can be tailored for their role, their expertise, and the needs of your school community. You could work with your local authority to offer such opportunities, or reach out to a training provider to discuss your specific requirements.
Taking these 7 tips into consideration before, during and after your period of recruitment for governors for schools will help you ensure a comprehensive approach to bringing a new governor on board.
Further guidance is available via our IG Schools Governance and Leadership Handbook.
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