Recruiting (Foundation) Governors
Don’t wait until you have a governor vacancy!
Have an on-going programme of informing parents and your local community about the work of your governing body - think of “friend-raising”, sowing seeds that may blossom.
Take a personal approach
Personal contacts are often more effective than paper.
Help people understand the role of governors in your school and across the diocese. You could
- Run an information session or taster where parents can meet existing governors. This might include teaming up with other local Catholic schools to run a joint event. Advertise it via school and parish newsletters, websites and social media.
- Include a friendly, interesting and jargon-free section on the work of your governors that shows how governors have made an impact on the pupils’ education on the school website;
- Consider other ways you could raise the profile of your governing body – e.g. place articles on recent governor initiatives in the school newsletter, check that appropriate communications are jointly signed by both the headteacher and chair of governors, include information in your prospectus and information for new parents, place photos and mini profiles of governors in your reception area; make use of social media;
- Make information on school governance available at school events such as meetings for new parents, parents’ evenings, open evenings, sports days and PTA events. Consider using the book mark or infographic from http://cesew.org.uk/guidance-for-schools/governance/item/1003603-foundation-governor-recruitment Why not have a ‘governors table’ at your Christmas bazaar and/or summer fair?
- Invite potential governors to be observers at a meeting (but consider confidentiality issues)
Consider what skills your governing body needs:
All governors need
- a strong commitment to the role and to improving outcomes for children
- the inquisitiveness to question and analyse
- willingness to learn
- good inter-personal skills
- appropriate levels of literacy in English (unless a governing body is prepared to make special arrangements)
- sufficient numeracy skills to understand basic data.Be clear if your board is looking for particular skills e.g. expertise in finance but see also Tapping into Local Groups!
Build strong links with your parish priest
Your parish priest will play a key role in helping you to find foundation governors.
- Contact your local parish(es) to see if their newsletter would include an article about the work of your governors this year & advertise for new governors.
- Ask your parish priest if a governor could speak at masses on Education Sunday about the work of governors and have a table at back of church with information and governors willing to answer questions etc.
Tap into local groups
- Contact local Catholic groups (e.g., Catenians, SVP, UCM) to see if you could visit and explain the role of a foundation governor.
- Sometimes the best way to recruit a suitable candidate is by drawing up a list of people whom members of the board think would fit the bill and targeting them yourself. Picking up the phone and asking if they are interested is quick and can be effective. It is, however, important to be clear that at this point you are just asking if they are interested; they will still need to apply and follow the appropriate process. Bear in mind that it is important that the board does not become a clique and is not perceived to be one.
- Help potential governors and their bosses to understand that they will benefit too by developing new skills: https://corporate-citizenship.com/wp-content/uploads/Volunteering_The_business_case.pdf
Some potential governors may have misplaced concerns about their ability to fill this role.
- Reassure those worried about the skills required that training and support are available to help them be effective governors.
- Be honest about the time commitment but remember that there are peaks and troughs during the school year with fewer commitments generally during school holidays. New governors will generally start with a lesser commitment, e.g., they will be unlikely to have to start as the chair of a major committee.
- Some governors may worry about meeting particular diocesan requirements but issues can be discussed in confidence with the Education Service and there are circumstances in which a criterion can be waived.
Value the governors you’ve got!
Make sure your governors are well trained, and feel supported and involved. Friendly support and a structured induction help new governors understand their role and feel part of the team.
- Encourage your new governors to attend training: LA & diocesan
- Ask your newest governors if they felt they were welcomed and given sufficient support so that they could make a contribution from the start and for any suggestions for improvement that they may have.
- Hand out a concise induction pack for new governors to introduce them to the school
- Use a buddy/mentor to help new governors to appreciate some of the key issues facing the governing body and feel better able to contribute quickly to the work of the GB.
- Check that the timing of meetings is not a disincentive
Advice on Speaking at Mass
Points that may help when speaking at a mass
- Be positive and be short – arrange to be at the back of church after mass with more detailed information for anyone who is interested in the role, for example copies of the CES bookmark which can also be found in this pack.
- Refer to some of your own experiences to illustrate what governors do. But not too many as you need to keep this brief!
- Refer to what you have gained from being a governor eg you may have learnt new skills such as interpreting data or learnt from the wide range of people on your governing body.
- Be honest about the time commitment but remember a new governor probably won’t need to commit as much time as the chair does.
- Be clear if you are looking for particular skills in a new governor.
- Some people may be hesitant; mention the support and training available for new governors eg a buddy governor.
- Explain what to do next if someone is interested.
- It is important to stress that this is part of the mission of the church: helping Catholic schools to enable pupils to explore the wonder of God’s love.
- Introduce yourself and your role
- Explain why you are speaking
- Explain what a foundation governor is: They are appointed by the Bishop to represent his education policy in diocesan schools. They preserve and develop the Catholic ethos of the school.
- Explain what governors do and give at most 1 or 2 examples of how the governors have had an impact on the pupils’ experiences at your school: Ensure the Catholic ethos of the school is upheld. Work with the headteacher and hold him/her to account. Oversee the financial performance of the school and set the budget. Manage the school’s admissions criteria. Recruit senior leaders.
- Be clear there is help and support including training and help for new governors.
- Explain the time commitment: 10-12 (amend this to your requirements) hours a month including attending one governing body meeting per term and serving on one committee (min. requirement).
- Say that there is more information at the back of the church and that you will be there if anyone wants to know more or if they are interested in hearing about the next step to becoming a governor.
- Explain what you have gained from the role and what you enjoy most about being a governor