Governors are Volunteers – we all know this is true, but these simple words can sometimes seem like a well meant but hurtful phrase. They can be wrapped in words that seek to lower expectations or diminish the level of contribution and this isn’t fair, given the commitment and energy invested by so many effective governors
From all the published guidance, it is clear that schools which continue improving or which stay as high achievers will have governors who are fully committed and totally involved and for whom the concept of being ‘just a volunteer’ is a big understatement.
Yes, governors are part time but in the same way that the captains of industry are often part time they can still be full time for that part of the week they devote to the governance of schools. So, being a governor may mean being part time but there should be nothing part time or low level about what they are delivering.
The key is about setting expectations at the right level. There are other organisations who rely on ‘volunteers’ but who set the standard high and who’s top quality services are delivered without compromise at the highest level of professionalism. Look at examples such as the RNLI lifeboat service or Retained Firefighters where clarity in their role, uncompromised expectations and common purpose produces outstanding contributions, commitment and dedication.
“ordinary people can do extraordinary things”
What is clear is that if we expect more and lift our sights, then ordinary people can do extraordinary things. Look at the 2012 Olympics where much of the success was down to the so called Games Makers. A group of ordinary people who were never treated as ‘just volunteers’ and from the outset were set clear and high level standards and expectations. They were told in unequivocal terms that the success of the games depended on them doing everything that was expected of them. More than that they had to do it whilst: displaying the values of excellence; being inspirational; being open and alert; being consistent; and being a team player.
So what is the difference between the values of the Games Makers and the values of school governors? Probably not a lot, so maybe we should be seeing ourselves as the School Makers and work in a way that openly projects the values that we adopt.
“schools will thrive if governors make the effort to make the difference”
Let’s shed off any concept that the governors’ role means anything but full engagement for the time devoted to being a governor. We know that schools will thrive if governors make the effort to make the difference. Change is in our hands!
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