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Use your skills to volunteer – and take a step up the career ladder along the way

Posted 5 months ago By Dale Archer

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As we celebrate Volunteers Week 2019, we talked to Vanessa Johnson at Governors for Schools about how skills-based volunteering can be good for your career and your community.  
Becoming a school governor can lead to a better future for you, your career and the young people in your area. You’ll develop new skills, build your network and gain board-level experience - all while giving back to your community. So how can you get involved – and how will your career benefit? 

“In my last interview I told the interviewer I was a governor. She recognised the value of the role and asked why it wasn’t on my CV”

What does a school governor do?
School governors have the power to improve education for children. The governing board helps schools run efficiently and effectively, supporting and challenging the headteacher and making sure public money is spent responsibly.
As a school governor, you’ll set the school’s vision, manage the school’s finances, and analyse educational outcomes. Governors are also involved in the school community, so you’ll see the impact of your decisions first-hand. 
Being a school governor is a chance to experience leadership at board level at any point in your career. You’ll develop transferable skills and having school governance on your CV is a worthy addition - employers recognise the skills you gain in the role and how it can grow existing skills.

You can use your existing skills – and learn how to apply them in a different context – as well as learning about areas outside your usual role

Finance – You’ll review and approve large budgets of over £1million as part of the governing board. You’ll work to find the best ways to manage the money available, prioritising and making often tough decisions.  Governors with finance expertise are always needed. The role enables you to use your skills in a different way to your day job so you can broaden your perspective. 
HR – It’s the governing board’s job to recruit the headteacher and performance manage them in the role. A crucial part of being a governor is supporting and challenging the headteacher – skills that are valuable in any workplace. 
Strategy – Decisions you make as a governor will directly affect the school and the children. As a governing board you’ll set the ethos of the school and discuss the vision for the future. You’ll also review the school’s development plan. 
Data analysis – You‘ll make informed decisions based on data, reviewing the data to make sure the school is on the track to success. 
Analytical thinking – Governors need to solve problems quickly and effectively to make sure the school runs as efficiently as possible. As a governor, you’ll challenge the status quo by analysing the best processes for the school and asking challenging questions. 
These are all skills that can enhance how you perform in your day job, and the specific expertise and experience of ICAEW members can bring valuable insight to a school’s governing body. 

“The skills and confidence gained from being a governor and taking on increasing levels of responsibility contributed to my success in gaining a promotion to departmental manager at work.”

How do you become a school governor?
Governors for Schools post school governor vacancies on www.icaewvolunteers.com so you can search for a role there. You can also apply directly with Governors for Schools and the charity will help match your specific skillset with a local school in need. 
Is there any support available?
Governors for Schools offers free training and support, including regular webinars and access to its online information service, to make sure you’re effective from your first day in the role.
Although focused on the role of charity trustees, ICAEW’s online trustee training modules also contain modules that are applicable to school governors.