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School Governance

As part of our Access and Participation Plan at University of Suffolk, we are working to improve access for our staff and alumni wanting to serve as Governors for local schools.  Governors for schools exist to improve educational standards so that children and young people have the opportunity to realise their full potential.

The benefits of becoming a Governor include:

  • Gaining experience on a board as a non-executive director
  • Developing key transferrable skills including strategy, budget and financial management, recruitment and performance management in organisations with a budget of £1-10m and staff teams of 15-150 people
  • Working to improve educational standards in schools leading to better outcomes for children and their local communities.

We are working alongside Governors for Schools, an independent charity which exists to ensure every school in England has excellent governance.  They are dedicated to recruiting volunteers to serve on school governing bodies across England.  This organisation will help to match skilled and enthusiastic staff and alumni with vacancies. Governors for Schools will help you link up with all the relevant training and CPD available in Suffolk as they work closely with Suffolk County Council.

Please use the link above to apply to become a Governor or to find out more information or follow them on Twitter @SchoolGovNet Once you have been appointed as a Governor, please let Karen Davis in External Relations know.

Insights from our staff and alumni

Stef Thorne, Director of Business Engagement and Entrepreneurship

I’ve volunteered as a governor at a primary school under three miles from the University for over five years now and have developed a good understanding of governance, leadership and how to be a critical friend during that time. As a busy Mum of four, with a full time job as part of the University senior leadership team I’ve found the time as a governor continuously rewarding and insightful. Rewarding personally as it gives some time back to a primary school which aligns with my values of learning, hard work, aspiration and happiness, all underpinned with a strong moral framework that brings personal and academic success for all of its children. Insightful as it has been a window into the hard work of teachers and the senior teams of primary schools which do so much to shape the next generation. We talk a lot in my world of skills and workforce development, economic growth and community impact and five year olds will soon become 18 year olds looking for further education or jobs. If we want to see a high performing workforce able to respond to the technological and political developments of the future, understanding their earlier years and the small interventions we can make as governors strengthens our roles in higher education and the other organisations we may come to work in. Staff,  students and alumni at the University of Suffolk are already acting in these important roles across the town and county but there is scope for us to fill more of the vacancies available and strengthen the links across our educational establishments for the better.

Kate Burgess, Alumni Relations and Development Manager

I have been a Governor at a local primary school for under a year.  I applied originally as I had a lot of skills in working with vulnerable groups, children and young people and safeguarding which I wanted to continue to use in a voluntary capacity.  I wanted a role in a diverse school, local to work and home, where I could feel I was making a real difference.  I have found the experience so far very rewarding, not only because I feel I am giving back, but I am also using the knowledge and abilities I have developed over the years.  I have also found it incredibly insightful into the issues and challenges that teachers and support staff are facing on a daily basis, providing opportunity to keep in touch with the local community and developing my passion for raising the aspirations of children and young people in Suffolk.   I have attended several core training sessions through Suffolk County Council which I really feel help you to find your feet and understand the requirements fo the role.  I am now the Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors and the Named Safeguarding Governor which has allowed me to expand my knowledge and the help and guidance I can offer as well as providing opportunities for further training and personal development.   I would highly recommend School Governance as a volunteering opportunity, there are so many opportunities available in a wide variety of schools and colleges.

Suzanne Nolan, Senior Lecturer in Employment Development

I have worked with a sixth form college as a Governor since the summer of 2018. My experience within higher education, particularly around widening participation and employability, made me want to work towards supporting sixth students in terms of their progression and development. I have found myself challenging the stereotype of what it means to be a Governor, and being able to offer insights and guidance that may have otherwise have been missed. It’s hugely rewarding, and a great opportunity to develop my skills in governance and negotiation, as well as my own confidence. It is particularly interesting working with the student Governors of the college, who take an active part in discussion and debate. It is exciting to see these young men and women develop through their role, becoming more knowledgeable and confident, and having the opportunity to speak as experts about their own experience. Governance requires a wide range of voices to be effective – so I would absolutely recommend becoming a Governor, even if you might start by thinking you have nothing to offer. It isn’t true. Everyone has something worthwhile to contribute.

Karen Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Children's Nursing

I am currently a school governor at Great Waldingfield Church of England Voluntary Controlled Primary School. I was co-opted by the Chair of the School Governing Board in 2018. I am a member of the Education Committee and have responsibility for the Early Years Provision and the curriculum; both of which require monitoring visits to the school. My role involves attending all the relevant committee meetings – usually one per school term and keeping up to date with developments through Governor Headlines by a monthly email and the Knowledge, which is more detailed and is published onto the Governor hub bi-monthly. As part of my role I visit the early years class at least fortnightly to help – usually I listen to each of the children read; this is enlightening and enjoyable. Also, I am invited to any special events such as concerts that the children are involved in.

Information on the roles and responsibilities of school governors is available through many sources including the Department of Education -

Make and impact - Become a School Governor

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