Good governance is vital to a school's success, which means that appointing the right people to your board is essential. Governors need to be willing to take on this demanding role around their day jobs, and have the necessary skills and commitment to make it work – all for free.
It's not an easy ask, so we spoke to the experts at The Key for School Governors to get their insider insight into making the recruitment process as painless and effective as possible.
Be clear about what the job involves
It's important that potential governors understand what the role entails. As well as outlining the functions of the governing body, recruitment materials should explain the expectations around attending meetings, undergoing training and being able to self-evaluate. It's also sensible to list interpersonal requirements such as tact, diplomacy, teamwork and confidentiality.
Raise the profile of the role
Volunteers may be more likely to come forward if the work of governors is celebrated within the school community. There are many ways to do this, including a creating section on the school website about the board (although many schools have to do this anyway), having a regular update slot in school newsletters, creating a display in reception with profiles of the current governors, ensuring that information about governance is available at school events and even running 'taster sessions' where parents can meet governors.
Ask for specific skills
If your team of governors is lacking in a certain area, it makes sense to explicitly advertise for people who have those skills – potential governors are often pleasantly surprised to learn how highly their existing professional abilities will be valued. By focusing on the skills needed for a particular governor role, you also set your expectations from the start, meaning that volunteers are more likely to engage with the role.
Advertise in the right place
If you are looking for a certain skill, you can target the right people by posting your advert in places they are more likely to see it, such as trade magazines, on social networks or directly to companies involved in that sector. For example, if you're looking for governors with HR experience, you could make a list of HR departments of local companies to approach.
Reach out to possible parent governors
There may be many parents who could be interested in taking a more active role in school life, so consider hosting an evening where they can find out more about becoming governors. Ideally, the entire governing board should be in attendance and information should include the make-up of the governing board, details about the role and praise for the unique expertise and perspectives provided by parent governors.
Ask for additional support if you need it
There are a number of organisations that support to governing boards to recruit new members. This can vary from simply providing guidance and resources, to recruiting volunteers and pairing them with schools. Using these services can often be the most straightforward way to secure a governor with the skills your board needs.
There are governor recruitment services that specialise in this, such as SGOSS – Governors for Schools, a free online recruitment tool for schools in England. It enables schools to advertise vacancies on their boards, and then works with local employers to find candidates with the relevant skills and experience. Their site also has lots of resources and guidance on governor recruitment.Local authorities can also be a huge help, with many offering support and even their own recruitment services in some cases. Some governors are appointed through third-party organisations, including dioceses and other faith groups. These organisations may have networks available to recruit new governors, and may be able to offer resources to governing boards.