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Suffolk parents urged to ‘make a difference’ by becoming school governors

PUBLISHED: 16:46 09 October 2018 | UPDATED: 06:48 10 October 2018

The Govenors for Schools Suffolk campaign launched in Ipswich Picture: NEIL PERRY

The Govenors for Schools Suffolk campaign launched in Ipswich Picture: NEIL PERRY

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A new campaign has called on people across Suffolk to make a difference to education in their area by signing up as a school governor.

The Governor Stories campaign was launched by national charity Governors for Schools at Quay Place in Ipswich on Tuesday, utilising the experiences of existing governors to help break down some of the common misconceptions.

The campaign came after data published in May revealed there were 378 governor vacancies in Suffolk’s local authority-maintained schools alone.

Joanna Howell, senior governance advisor at Suffolk County Council who was at the event, said: “I think we have a really big opportunity now to shape the future of young people and to make education better and fit for purpose, so this is how you can make that difference.

“You might not be a teacher standing in front of a class, but you can have a really big impact on a school.”

Govenors for Schools chief executive Louise Cooper at the launch of the Governor Stories campaign in Ipswich Picture: NEIL PERRYGovenors for Schools chief executive Louise Cooper at the launch of the Governor Stories campaign in Ipswich Picture: NEIL PERRY

She added: “At the end of the day they are all Suffolk children – that’s the really important thing to remember.

“They are all Suffolk children who we want to give the best opportunity to – from our perspective it doesn’t make any difference if it’s a maintained school or an academy.”

Chiefs behind the campaign said an understanding of the differences between local authority schools and academies had been a particular challenge, while recruiting governors in rural areas was also more tricky because there were fewer people in the community to draw from.

As well as using accounts from existing governors, a host of misconceptions were also addressed.

Governors do not necessarily need to be parents themselves, and could volunteer at a school closer to their workplace rather than their nearest to home. They also do not have a personal liability at LA-run schools should anything happen.

The amount of time needed has also caused some confusion, according to the campaign organisers, who said an average was around four-to-six hours per month.

Louise Cooper, chief executive of Governors for Schools, said: “We are celebrating the diversity of governors and trying to get more people on board.

“It’s about the satisfaction of giving something back – you are using your skills to improve children’s lives and give them a fantastic education.

“But you are also developing transferable skills, so you might bring finance but actually you are learning about HR, or learning about how to set strategy for an organisation.”

To find out more visit Suffolk County Council’s page Govern Suffolk here or the Governors for Schools website here.

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