HAGBOURNE C of E PRIMARY SCHOOL
Main Road, East Hagbourne, Didcot, Oxon, OX11 9LR
‘Preparing each child for their future in an ever-changing world’
CARE - COURAGE - RESPECT - RESPONSIBILITY
SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING A NEW GOVERNOR AT HAGBOURNE C of E PRIMARY SCHOOL...
Why did you want to become a Governor?
I wasn’t sure I did want to be one! I am a parent of a child in year 1 and I have a pretty full-on job so time is tight. However I wanted to know more about how the school works and I thought I might have some relevant skills that would be useful. After a chat with the head and deputy I decided to give it a go despite being a bit worried about the time commitment.
What do you bring to your role as Governor?
I’m a scientist at the University of Oxford. That means I’m pretty good with data, planning and running projects, managing people and budgets, and I care passionately about education. I’m keen that children are encouraged to discover a love of science, to debunk some of the myths, and to empower everyone (particularly girls) to embrace technical subjects for the love of finding things out.
What was the first meeting like?
My first impression was that the committee is full of people who are just as keen as I am to make the school as good as it can be. Everyone brings something different in terms of skills/background and the atmosphere is positive and forward looking. Everyone made me feel welcome and helped me get acclimatised. A committee meeting is quite formal (there is a pre-set agenda, a chair who keeps people to time, and papers circulated ahead of the meeting) but it is also friendly and jovial. There is a lot to learn and I was pleased to hear someone say that it probably takes a year or so before a new Governor properly understands all of what’s involved, so there is plenty of time to find your feet. There is a lot of paperwork, and a lot of numbers, but it is manageable once you are given some pointers.
What have you learned about being a Governor?
I went on an induction course run by the local authority which was really good. Governors have a lot of responsibility, but it is collective rather than individual, which takes the pressure off. One of the main things I’ve learned is just how much is involved in running a school. At Hagbourne there is a full governing board plus two committees – one for ‘performance and standards’, which concentrates on educational attainment and progress; and one for ‘finance and general purpose’ which concentrates on the accounts, premises and infrastructure. The head teacher has to be expert in all of these things, and by extension the leadership team and governors have to be pretty versatile too. Governors are involved in all strategic decision making, but it is the head and staff who manage all aspects of running of the school. Governors support the leadership team, but can’t be yes-men/women – we have to question and hold the head and staff accountable. I’ve also learned that nothing stays still – there are always new government policies and initiatives that have to be followed or at least considered.
What have you learned about the school?
This is going to sound a bit creepy, but the main thing I’ve learned is that I’m very happy that my son attends this school! So far, the more I learn the more I like. I came in with some assumptions and questions: Do the bright children get stretched? Do the children with special needs get the right support? Do some children fall below the radar? What does being a church school mean? I have learned that the head and deputy work incredibly hard to balance a lot of demands and priorities. Despite the constant changes and squeezes on resources, all the staff I have met genuinely care about the wellbeing of every child. No child goes unnoticed, and the school works hard to nurture emotional wellbeing at the same time as driving educational attainment. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to question and push though – next year I’ll be the science link governor and I’m thinking about how we sneak as much science as possible into the curriculum.
Would you recommend being a Governor?
So far definitely yes! I still have lots to learn, and there is a time commitment, but there is something very gratifying about feeling you can contribute to something as important as educating the next generation.
Clare Mackay/Robinson, July 2017