As part of the ‘Be a Governor’ campaign with Bristol Learning City, we asked Lizzie Lyons, Business Skills Manager at Business West, about her involvement as a school governor for her local primary school.
Lizzie told us why she decided to get involved, the benefits it has brought to her and her company and how it has changed her life.
Why did you choose to become a governor?
I am currently a Governor of my local rural primary school. It is a very small school which both of my children now attend. I first decided to become a parent governor because I felt I wanted to contribute more, not just to the strategic direction of the school but also the community in which I lived. The school is very much at the heart of the community and our governing body draws on a variety of skills from within the community. One other reason behind my decision to become a school governor was for my own personal development and since becoming a Governor I have been on a continuous learning curve – from reading and interpreting data to understanding curriculum, recruitment and disciplinary procedures and from writing and reviewing policies to being taught the correct use of a fronted adverbial by a 6 year old!
What would you say are the advantages/benefits to businesses being involved with schools?
The development of personal skills which can be brought back into the business. Since I became a Governor I have learnt a lot about the management of educational establishments which are increasingly becoming businesses in themselves. It gives you a great insight into how schools operate and enables the identification of other ways that businesses can become more involved – through classroom talks etc. I have developed skills needed when writing policies, managing finances, recruiting and managing staff right through to conflict management and the handling of complaints.
I have been on a continuous learning curve – from reading and interpreting data to understanding curriculum, recruitment and disciplinary procedures and from writing and reviewing policies to being taught the correct use of a fronted adverbial by a 6 year old!
If businesses would like to become involved as a governor, how much time does it take up and what does it involve?
This can vary from school to school. At the school I am involved with, as a minimum you should expect to attend Full Governing Body meetings (usually around 2 hrs) each term. In addition you may find you are required to attend committee meetings each term also – I currently sit on the Staffing, Curriculum and Standards committee so will meet once a term to review progress. The school I am involved with are also very keen to have Governors that are visible around the school and we regularly conduct Governor Visits which can be in the form of learning walks (talking to children and staff about the work being done), meetings with staff or involvement in particular topics.
What do you think makes a good governor – can anyone do it?
Yes I believe anyone can do it as the successful management of a school needs to draw on various skills. The one quality that makes a good Governor would be commitment. It is a voluntary role but requires consistency and commitment and is a role that comes with responsibility
What is your favourite part of being a governor?
Seeing the progress of the children. Monitoring achievements and seeing the impact that interventions can have on a child’s progress. The breadth of what young children are being taught in school amazes me and being taught grammar by 6 year olds is always a high point!
It is a voluntary role but requires consistency and commitment and is a role that comes with responsibility
Lastly, why would you say early engagement is important for the future of skills?
Business engagement in schools has a huge impact on their futures. It allows them to put their learning into context and build knowledgeable confident young people. Business engagement in schools provides variety in the classroom which has a positive impact on a young persons willingness to learn. The more young people understand about working life, the easier the transition from education to work later in life. By engaging in schools, businesses are preparing a pipeline of young people that have the skills and confidence to.
If Lizzie's story has inspired you and you are interested to find out more about the Be a Governor campaign and how you can volunteer yourself, contact the Skills Team at Business West.
Could you become a governor?
Business West has partnered with Bristol City Council to encourage more individuals to become school governors. Find out more about the potential benefits to you and your business, the skills schools are looking for and how you can get involved.