Can school governance bridge the skills gap in Wales?
The shift to remote working over the past year has been a welcome change for many, and it looks like the hybrid model of working may be here to stay – as research by McKinsey has found. Spending more time working at home also means that the skills we develop in our roles are changing too – so why is school governance something organisations in Wales should consider encouraging?
Joining a school board has long been encouraged for its professional development, but as we enter a new phase of working, volunteering as a school governor could provide the social and skills development employees also need.
Develop skills for the new world of work
Volunteering as a school governor is an excellent way to develop skills that ordinarily may be reserved for those higher up the career ladder. Research conducted by Governors for Schools in 2019 showed that volunteers developed skills in areas including providing challenge and asking probing questions, strategic planning, and developing professional relationships. Volunteers also noted improved performance in leading, persuading or influencing others, preparation, flexibility and agility, analysing performance data and KPIs, and financial skills. As businesses look forward to the Covid recovery, skills development is high on the agenda.
The most recent ‘Quarterly Economic Survey’ conducted by Chambers Wales and the British Chambers of Commerce, found that 62% of Welsh businesses reported that they felt that skills development is an internal opportunity to help their business recover from the pandemic.
The breadth of skills development on offer by joining a school board is unmatched in many volunteering opportunities, and the aspect of continuous learning and development gives volunteers the chance to see projects through from start to end.
Combine professional and societal development
Governors for Schools has seen more people volunteer to join a school board over the last year, demonstrating that people want to connect with their community and give back in a tangible way. Workers appreciate employers who actively encourage giving back, and those who are ethically and socially minded can combine the two through governance. For organisations that offer volunteering days, these can be used to proactively support employees to grow and develop, all while supporting their local communities.
What do school governors do – and why is the role so important?
Every school in Wales has a governing board, made up of a group of volunteers from the community. The board sets the strategic direction of the school, oversees the school’s financial spend, and holds the leadership team to account. School governance gives many volunteers their first opportunity to join a board, where they gain confidence and experience.
There are over 1,300 governor vacancies in Wales, leaving schools without the skills they need. Governors for Schools is a national charity that connects skilled professionals with schools in need of volunteers. While board meetings have taken place remotely over the past year, many schools will adopt a blended approach to meetings, giving volunteers the chance to meet in person while also ensuring boards can benefit from the diversity remote meetings can promote.
How do organisations benefit from school governance?
Governors for Schools will support employees before their first meeting so that first-time governors feel prepared and able to contribute effectively. For the majority of the charity’s volunteers, becoming a governor is their first experience of joining a board. Governors for Schools works with people to make sure volunteering is both manageable and rewarding.
How can businesses in Wales get involved?
If you’re a business in Wales looking to develop your workforce and benefit from school governance, join Governors for Schools, Chambers Wales, and an expert panel on Wednesday 22nd September at 12pm. The session will feature a discussion into the opportunity that board-level volunteering offers businesses in Wales as they navigate their post-Covid recovery.
Find out more: www.governorsforschools.org.uk/conference-2021/