The Foundation for Education Development (FED) asked Hannah Stolton, CEO at Governors for Schools, to write a thinkpiece around governor diversity. Governors for Schools is an educational charity, supporting schools and Multi Academy Trusts by recruiting volunteers to sit on their Boards as Trustees and Governors. They match our volunteers based on skills so that each Board has the right people around the table and our volunteers are able to have the most impact. Read more below
Why more inclusive school boards are vital
The governance landscape has long suffered from a lack of diversity. According to recent findings published by the National Governance Association (NGA), only 6% of governors and trustees are from an ethnic minority background, and a mere 6% are aged under 40 – much lower proportions than the Office for National Statistics estimates for the wider population. In fact, the percentage of young governors is at its lowest on record, having halved over the past five years.
It’s an established fact that having diverse viewpoints around the board table brings many benefits and that by bringing together different perspectives the best decisions are made. School boards, just like boards in other sectors, need to hear from those of all ages, ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds. If boards don’t represent the demographic composition of the wider community, they may overlook crucial issues affecting all stakeholders. Diversity on boards helps make schools more inclusive and, by extension, best able to support staff and pupils from different backgrounds.
If governors are to effectively set the strategic direction for their schools, they need to be thinking about what will work for the whole school community, to ensure that each child or young person reaches their potential. By coming at challenges from varying viewpoints and by bringing different skills and experiences to the table, governors can ensure that public money is well spent, identifying needs effectively.
At Governors for Schools, we are prioritising our outreach to increase the diversity of the volunteers who apply for our vacancies. We know that part of the problem is the lack of public awareness of what governors do, and who is eligible to take up the role. To help to counteract that, we are supporting and promoting National School Governor Awareness Day on 28th February – a chance to say thanks for the work that current governors do, and to spread the word to those not already involved.
If you’re wondering how you can harness your skills and knowledge to benefit your community, you can apply to become a governor today. Alternatively, join one of our information sessions to find out more about the role. Whatever your background, there are schools out there that could benefit from your support. As one volunteer explains in a recent governor story, “Strong governing boards benefit from diverse experiences. As long as you’re enthusiastic and committed to making a difference in young people’s lives, you’ll have something valuable to offer!”
You can also help bridge diversity gaps in governance by spreading the word among your networks and peers. Many people are unaware of the shortage of governors across the country, so sharing information about the role could encourage individuals to take up governance roles and help shape the future of education.
By applying with Governors for Schools, you’ll have access to direct support from our friendly partnerships team. We’ll guide you through the application process and help match you with a school that will benefit from your unique skills and qualities. You’ll also benefit from a comprehensive range of online training materials once in post, including detailed eLearning modules and regular webinars. To find out more, please visit our website.