OBV Partners with Inspiring Governance and Education and Employers


This month is Black History Month in UK, and there can be no better opportunity to educate us all, especially children and young people of the importance of Education; one that is open, representative and inclusive. Education is a key component in the lives of all people, their children’s and their communities. However, this is more keenly felt in Black communities where often our stories have been stripped, excised or edited out of the whole story whether here in the UK, in Europe or internationally. Never has it been more important to promote education as the lifeline in our communities, and the need for positive black role models, more teachers, and senior education leadership roles - particularly so with the historic, present and persistent inequalities within education, and within the leadership and decision-making structures that affect the Black child.

Therefore, it was with some foresight way back in October when the World was a very different place that we appealed for new partners to assist in the delivery of our award-winning leadership programmes. When we were just putting together the outlines for Liverpool and Birmingham civic leadership schemes, we were never in any doubt due to our long-term focus on the education agenda, and the overwhelming interest; that education and school governance would be the first strand of our learning seminars to be delivered.

Our hope then was still for the delivery of programmes in a physical setting, things changed swiftly soon after that with events. In the intervening time we were approached by another potential partner looking for collaboration around school governance. It was serendipitous that the two organisations Education and Employers (Dominic Judge and Helen Knowles); and National Governance Association (Judith Hicks) were somewhat related to one another, and this better connected and aligned to the goals and ideals of OBV to deliver our first session on School Governors.

Dominic Judge, Helen Knowles and Judith Hicks (from left to right)

We are extremely thankful that Judith, Helen and Dominic jumped straight in the saddle and agreed to deliver informative and engaging sessions that inspired and instigated a series of questions and advice from the OBV cohort. A cohort that we’ve no doubt are destined leaders of their communities, and I believe very much beyond.

We’re delighted by the talent, ambition, and abilities that our cohorts have shown; and the part that Dominic, Helen, and Judith have played in making them better leaders for all our futures; educating, informing and inspiring the cohorts to be the progressive change that they want to see; transform their schools and communities, our civic and decision-making bodies, and wider society.

Ashok Viswanathan

Here Dominic and Judith expand on the role and impact of school governors in education, and in their respective communities.

OBV call for more volunteers to become school governors

Dominic Judge, Inspiring Governance and Judith Hicks, National Governance Association

According to the National Governance Association’s latest research Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) governors make up just 5% of school governance volunteers. This imbalance is also mirrored when we look at the make-up of headteachers, with the Department for Education’s latest School Workforce Census data showing only 3% of heads coming from a BAME background. In a marked contrast, 26% of school pupils in England are from an ethnic minority, revealing a stark mismatch between the people making decisions about education in our schools and the pupil and parent communities they serve.

Why we need more BAME governors

Having a good quality education has a huge impact on the future life chances of children and young people. Governing boards make significant decisions about schools and oversee state education to ensure that schools are successful for every pupil. Boards need volunteers drawn from across the school’s community that bring different skills, experience and perspectives to the table. Boards that are diverse make the best decisions.

Seeing BAME governors has the benefit of providing role models for young people, giving them confidence in what they can achieve. It also strengthens the relationship between the school and its community because the opportunities and challenges faced by BAME pupils and their families are represented in the decision making.

What do school governors actually do?

As a school governor you are expected to attend meetings and contribute to the work of the board. You will ask constructive, challenging questions to hold the headteacher to account and be comfortable in taking part in courageous conversations that seek to improve the school. Your focus will be on the strategic rather than the operational running of the school – think ‘eyes on, hands off’.

Your aim will be to work in partnership with the school by being a critical friend in the best interests of all pupils. Whatever your skills and knowledge, whether that’s professional or personal experience, you will bring that to the role to help the school improve. It’s also a great way to develop leadership skills to use in your personal and professional life. 97% of Inspiring Governance’s current placed volunteers would recommend the role of governor to a friend.

Collectively as a board, school governors set the strategic direction of the school, oversee the budget, hold the headteacher to account for the educational performance of pupils, and ensure that the voices of stakeholders – like parents and staff – are heard.

Who can volunteer?

Almost anyone aged 18 or over can be a school governor. You don’t need to be a parent or have any experience of working in education or an existing connection to the school.

You’ll get full training for the role and there are plenty of chances to learn from other governors too.

How to get involved

Sign up to volunteer with Inspiring Governance.You will be asked for some personal details when you register as well as a personal statement that can be read by schools that are looking for governors. You can see which schools have vacancies and connect with them.

Schools usually interview potential governors to check that they are a good fit for the role – this will also provide you with an opportunity to see if the school is a good fit for you.

By using Inspiring Governance to recruit volunteers, boards are reaching beyond their existing networks and personal connections and thereby increasing the diversity of the volunteers appointed. Inspiring Governance is bucking the national trend with 18% of IG volunteers appointed identifying as BAME. To read more about the NGA and Inspiring Governance’s joint campaign to better diversify school governing boards please visit: https://www.inspiringgovernance.org/everyone-on-board/

Dominic Judge, Inspiring Governance and Judith Hicks, National Governance Association