Headteacher column: Governors inspired by school visit

Governors help safeguard their schools identity and ideals.
Governors help safeguard their schools identity and ideals.

We recently welcomed our governors into Pocklington School, where they attended lessons, spoke to pupils and staff, and sampled a day in our vibrant, bustling corridors and classrooms.

Their feedback was extremely positive, and our pupils certainly welcomed the chance to show off their skills. I hope the experience reinforced their sense of fulfilment in helping the school to enthuse and inspire every pupil to achieve their full potential.

Governors don’t get enough praise for their input to school life. The head teacher, teaching and support staff might be responsible for the day-to-day running of a school, but it’s the governors who construct its framework of values and ensure they are upheld. Effective governors not only support their school’s aims, they share their expertise at every stage, from policy-making and strategic planning, to ensuring that each pupil benefits from the best the school can offer, every day.

“A critical friend” is the phrase most often used to describe governors, but it doesn’t go anywhere near describing the requirements placed upon them. They are unpaid but freely give up their time to attend training meetings, policy discussions, committee meetings, study reports and generally help safeguard their school’s identity and ideals.

At Pocklington School, our ethos is very much about staff and pupils working together to bring out the best in each individual, in a nurturing and supportive environment. We foster the same open and trusting relationship with our governors, which benefits all concerned.

As a head teacher, you’ve struck gold if your governors come from a wide range of backgrounds, with diverse interests, skills and experience. It gives you access to a huge reservoir of opinion and advice. Many of them are parents, too, and their insights are particularly valuable. We’re lucky to have a broad spectrum of expertise on our Board of Governors. It includes a finance director, company chairman, building conservationist, HR consultant, solicitor, judge, professor of law, a health and safety expert, plus two local MPs, representatives of the Lord Lieutenant, the Archbishop of York, the local councils and universities.

Their varied talents and perspectives help us do our job more effectively. They monitor and evaluate, challenge as well as support, and their point of view is often refreshing.

We welcome governors’ friendly criticism, knowing they have our school’s best interests at heart, and value their opinions hugely. But what drives such busy and hard-working people to give up their time for the school? I asked Tim Stephenson, our Chairman of Governors.

He replied: “There is a real feeling of being part of an evolving tradition and momentum which becomes infectious….

“The most inspiring aspect is contributing towards the development of young adults who can go out into the world and be confident that they can achieve their ambitions and contribute to the wider community.”

We are grateful to have such an interested, diversely skilled and enthusiastic Board of Governors at Pocklington School.

Their support makes us stronger, so together we can provide a rounded education which inspires every pupil for life.