Ebun Sanusi, Law Graduate, UCL
A few months ago, I decided I wanted to try and make an impact within the youth sector in any possible way. This led me to apply to become a School Governor through ‘Inspiring the Future’ – and my eventual appointment.
Through my rather recent experiences within this role, I felt a need to share some of my thoughts, apprehensions and most importantly; advice I would give to other people considering helping young people. I hope my four tips below demonstrate the benefits of becoming a School Governor and encourage more young people like myself to apply for similar roles.
The first fear I had when initially applying to become a School Governor was my age. As a 21-year-old, fresh out of university, I truly wondered what skills and experience I could offer to any school. I felt as though I could barely make day-to-day decisions in my own life, let alone provide solutions to problems which would impact the lives of thousands of students! This fear was further encompassed when I shadowed a Governors meeting at Forest Academy on the day of my interview. The experience was definitely intimidating with the average age of the meeting attendees being 40. However, as the session went on I started to realise that through my youth I was able to bring a different perspective to the table. I was able to contribute to decision-making while considering the use of innovative solutions such as technology and databases. Moreover, I was able to consider the potential views and needs of each student through my own (more recent) experience!
Therefore, so long as you are 18 or older and have a true passion to change the circumstances of youths in your area, I encourage you to apply for a School Governor position.
Another barrier preventing many from taking the plunge and applying to become a School Governor is the assumption that one needs teaching experience. This was an assumption I also previously held.
Although I had experience as a private tutor and had mentored students in various Schools – I had never been a teacher and I did not truly know the daily operations of a School.
As a Governor – I can confidently say that lack of teaching experience is not a problem at all! The most important requirement is passion. One must have a passion to make a difference in the lives of young people. If you are willing to do this, then you can flourish within your position. Moreover, skills other than the ability to teach are welcomed by many Schools. For instance, many of the Forest Academy Governors work in legal and accounting settings; while others are parents of the children in the School. There is always a new perspective you can provide through your individual experiences. This unique perspective, combined with passion are key components of being a successful Governor.
A third reason why I would encourage many to consider becoming a School Governor is because of the lasting contacts you could make. As aforementioned, many School Governors come from various professional backgrounds and not necessarily from the education sector. Thus, being appointed into a Governing Body could really open up opportunities for you. Moreover, you will be surrounded by similar-minded people who have the same passion you have for the youth sector. Thus, if you want to become a teacher or work in a professional setting which involves work in the youth sector, this position will give you insight into the needs of pupils and the ways to cater to these needs. Lastly, networking through this role could give you a more honest viewpoint of how schools, organisations and even businesses operate.
The final and most important benefit of being a School Governor – is the ability to help one’s community and the youth sector as a whole. While several volunteering opportunities – such as mentoring and one-off teaching sessions do benefit many adolescents, I believe that becoming a School Governor has a greater lasting impact on the lives of many young people. This position will enable you to make strategic, financial and policy-based decisions in relation to a School and its students. Thus, instead of just impacting the lives of a few individuals, you will you able to reach out to hundreds or thousands of children and improve their lives for the better.
Ebun Sanusi (21), is a newly-appointed School Governor at Forest Academy, Croydon. With our support, she was previously able to become an intern on the Civil Service Fast Stream Summer Diversity Internship Programme ; there she was able to work in the Disability, Employment and Support Directorate within the Department of Work & Pensions.