School governance can be a busy and demanding responsibility, but it is also hugely rewarding. I have been privileged to serve for the past seven years as a Governor of a local state community school in my home county of Hampshire. What was, back in 2012, a school graded as Inadequate by Ofsted, is now a successful and thriving school, with a wonderful sense of community and purpose.
I joined the school as part of an Interim Executive Board, brought in to replace the Governing Body. As Board members, we devoted an extraordinary number of hours to the school, dealing with a vast array of problems related to leadership, outcomes and achievement, quality of teaching, staffing issues, behaviour and safety, community and reputational issues, financial deficits, and as one might expect, declining pupil numbers. The turmoil went on for several years and at times it became difficult to imagine when the sunlight was ever going to shine through.
A few years ago, we went through a change of leadership and I was pleased to assist in the search for a Headteacher. We were extremely fortunate to appoint an exceptional external applicant, a Deputy, keen to take his first step into Headship. He has absolutely found his calling, the school’s transformation under his leadership has been incredible. He would be the first to insist that the improvements have been a team effort (which I know they have been), but he has led that team, and the manner in which he has motivated, inspired and engaged the whole school community has been truly impressive. Everything is now heading in the right direction. Outcomes and attainment are getting better every year, students are engaged and well behaved, we have a great teaching team, new initiatives are transforming pupils’ experiences and making school life and learning both exciting and rewarding. The leadership team is, simply put, dynamic and focused. Pupil numbers are rocketing upwards and we now have the challenges of coping with that!
This has been a demanding seven years of governance. However, it has proven to me the crucial importance of leadership and of good governance in supporting schools and holding them to account, for the benefit of the students. While governance can be difficult, it is also hugely fascinating and rewarding. Governance is just as important in the smooth times as well as the rough. Having supported the school through this period of turmoil and change, I now look forward to seeing it thrive. The journey continues…