Being a Governor
Q and A - Ben Wielgus, Former Co-opted Governor
Why do you feel it is important to get involved in education and what persuaded you to become a governor?
I think the most important thing for me is the sense of aspiration that education can create. Of course this includes reading, writing and mathematics but it also comes from the practical and emotional education that great schools can provide. Even more so, it’s there for them to get involved with, no matter what their passions and interests are. I wanted to be part of that.
Please describe your first impressions and how you were welcomed.
Carr Hill is a large primary school that I was instantly impressed with on my first visit because the pupils were so engaged, welcoming and respectful of the teachers and the learning they were providing. Every time I walk in the doors it feels like the school has energy, but that it’s directed towards helping all the kids succeed in life.
Please describe the benefits that you gain, as an individual, from being a school governor?
Volunteering as part of the governing body allows me to use my skills and experience to help the school run successfully. By bringing my business experience to help, this frees up teachers and school leadership to focus on what they do best – education. I’m also very proud to have helped make the school greener and more sustainable. This gives me a lot of satisfaction as well as helps me get to know more people from the community.
Have you received any training? If so, how have you found it and how flexible is it?
I have received several rounds of training to help me with some of the more technical aspects of governing. This has been both onsite and online. There’s also lots of resources I can look into if I want to study up on anything I want to know more about.
How long do you spend on governor duties each month and how often do you attend meetings?
Being a Governor is very flexible and you can get involved with a lot if you want, or focus on just the core aspects of the role. I attend about 6 meetings a year as well as do a half day school visit as part of my link to particular subjects. Outside of that, I took on a special project to get solar panels installed on the school – that took several days over a year but it was my choice to do it as it was something I was passionate about and the Governing body supported me in doing it.
What challenges have you faced and how do you feel your skills from the world of work have helped you as a school governor?
One of the biggest challenges has been inspections and visits. My experience from business allowed me to work well with the Government inspectors and help ensure the school gets the best outcome possible from County Council inspectors. My experience with finances has also allowed me to help look for opportunities to invest to save the school money in the long run. In return, my experience has a governor has been invaluable in helping me learn how to work with a wider range of people in a non-hierarchical structure.