Governing bodies are starting to get noticed and that is how it should be. This renewed focus on governing bodies can only be a good thing as it will lead to raising the profile of governors. For far too long governors have been working away in the background without anyone, or hardly anyone, noticing what an essential service they provide and what hard work that is. This renewed focus on governance also means an increased accountability, again a very good thing. The third thing which I hope this focus on governance will bring about is the recognition by governing bodies of the need to recruit the “right” governors to fill the empty places around the table.
I have previously written about some of the qualities which a person needs to possess in order to be considered a “right” governor. The next question is where and how do we find this person?! In order to recruit the right person you need to use all the resources at your disposal. Consider a “Recruitment Agency”. One example of this is SGOSS. Have you thought of using your Clerk as a head-hunter?! If you employ a professional clerk then he/she would be clerking other GBs too and would have firsthand experience of how good those governors are. Let your Clerk know that you would value his/her input and ask for feelers to be put out. The Clerk would probably know if a governor was interested in joining another GB. If you have a good clerk and that clerk recommends a governor, then don’t let that governor slip through your fingers! When appointing governors, if possible, seek feedback from people who know or work with the potential governor. Social media can be a powerful tool while searching for people to serve on your board. Consider using social media like Twitter to advertise the fact that you are looking for a new parent governor, for example.
When appointing governors try and make sure you don’t end up with the same type of people around the table. This means there needs to be mixture of skills and to achieve this you should think of conducting a skills’ review before you recruit new governors. The review would reveal which skills were available to you and which were lacking. You could then tailor your recruitment drive to ensure that you had a variety of skills around the table to call upon. Remember though that you are appointing people for their experience in various fields, not to use them as “cheap or free labour”!
It may be best to have a “job description” or a person specification. This should make it clear what the board expects from the successful applicant (such as the how many meetings will the governor be expected to attend, the need for training, etc.).
When thinking of appointing or recruiting new governors think about board diversity. Will someone looking around your table, describe your governors as being “male, pale and stale?” Are both genders represented equally or are most of your governors men? If the answer is no to the first half of the question and yes to the second half, then do you know why? Is there anything you can do while recruiting to change that? You may need to go out into the community and ask what you could do to attract more women. You may need to change the timings of some of your meetings or you may need to give some thought to providing child care while they are attending meetings. If you are a secondary school, you may have 6th Form students who may be willing to run a crèche once or twice a term. Changing the timing or providing a crèche may help attract those women who may not have applied otherwise.
Do your governors come from the various racial and ethnic groups which make up your community? When advertising for jobs we make sure we include a statement about being an equal opportunity employer. Maybe thought needs to be given to a similar statement when we are looking to appoint governors. This may help in attracting the underrepresented groups. What may also help in recruitment from these groups is if you were to make it clear how diversity in the board make up will help the students and the school.
What is the average age of your governors? Young people have a lot to offer. They may have skills the older members of the board lack and they can, therefore, contribute as much as the older governors. Clare Collins has recently written about an initiative she is involved with. She found the young governors she was working with to be energetic, enthusiastic and curious. She feels that boards should have governors who are “young enough to be able to really relate to the children now going through our schools”. Surely, this can only be a good thing. This is where using social media will be really useful. You will be able to reach your young audience more easily if you use social media to announce the fact that you are recruiting.
One important point to remember is that you must not let the above become a box ticking exercise. Recruiting people so that you are able to get the right people around the table with a diversity of skills, ethnic backgrounds, gender, and age will have many advantages. It reflects your school and local community, it will lead to healthier debate and hopefully it will make your board more capable of tackling issues.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Hopefully, with the right strategies the right people will be recruited so that governing bodies become more like the bright, happy picture just above rather than the grey and dull one at the top.