How are you? No, seriously, how are You? When did someone last ask you, in your role as a governor, how you were, whether you needed any help with the ‘workload’ of governance or whether you needed someone to talk to? As governors (and trustees too of course) we spend time ensuring that the wellbeing of staff is forefront in our minds especially these days. As governors we are fully aware of the increased pressures faced by teachers and leaders in our schools and academies – funding, safeguarding, workload, recruitment, performance management, academisation, the list goes on.
Are there times when you feel somewhat overwhelmed by the work of being a governor? You are not alone. Many other governors feel the same way. We are dedicated to getting the job ‘right’; we do the job of governing because we want to ‘make a difference’ and, let’s be honest, this role can be challenging at times. Being the chair or vice chair of the board or a committee, or the safeguarding or SEND governor, has additional pressures, some of which may keep you awake at night. We need to acknowledge this pressure; perhaps some of our school leaders could be a little more aware sometimes as well. Governance is a two-way street after all don’t you think?
Some simple ways to help support your wellbeing could be to build and grow a support network, to remember to delegate (you don’t have to carry the burden alone), to take the time to reflect and to ask for help when you need it. There is help available for governors in the system and a problem shared can surely improve our collective knowledge in the long run.
The building and sustaining of positive relationships on our boards is also important because when this goes wrong it can have a negative impact on our wellbeing. Ask yourself are our meetings respectful, challenging, of a reasonable length, starting at a reasonable time with a quality agenda? Are our meetings chaired by someone who is well prepared and knowledgeable? Is my voice heard? Have you thought if these things are impinging on the effectiveness of your board?
Other ways to support well being are school based – planning ahead with a good agenda, a clear policy planner, meeting calendar – setting our expectations for each other, growing our team. Many schools now have a governor with a responsibility for mental health and wellbeing – if you have someone in this role does it cover being supportive and understanding of the needs of the governing board as well, quite rightly, of the staff team?
No doubt we’ll talk again about wellbeing but in the meantime please be kind to yourself and remember when governance is effective it empowers us all.
 National Leaders of Governance have a remit to support through both coaching and mentoring. A list of NLG can be found here or through an internet search. Support is available at no cost.
 What governing boards should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing boards’ – NGA, NAHT, ASCL, LGA – June 2017.
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