Insights from those who have taken on school governor roles in Wrexham.
Rob Maurice-Jones - Local Authority Governor at St Christopher’s School
I first got involved with the Millenium Eco Centre at Borras Quarry (part of St. Christopher’s School) when I was the manager in 2009. I was a member of the liaison committee and volunteered as much as possible. The Eco Centre is such a great place and gives children and adults wonderful opportunities. I left Borras in 2012 to manage a limestone quarry in Mold, but still wanted to be part of the amazing work at St Christopher's and help out as much as I could. The Chair of Governors asked if I would like to become a governor. This was a huge honour that I could not turn down. In 2013 I was appointed as an LA governor.
Currently we are looking at the new curriculum for Wales and its implementation. My role within this is managing the change and ensuring the school is in the best possible position. As governors we work in partnership with the headteacher. My other responsibilities are to review policies and visit lessons as well as being part of the finance committee and advising on health and safety.
As a Local Authority Governor, you are nominated and approved by the LA. We ensure the schools leadership team are setting high standards and make important decisions on policies, budget and curriculum. It’s such a rewarding opportunity to give something back to the community.
Ruth Coates - Community Governor at Ysgol Clywedog, Wrexham
I joined the Governors after my youngest son had finished Year 11. I was a single working parent to two boys who attended from Year 7 to Year 11. I wanted to pay back the support and education that they had received in those five years.
I am a Community Governor and I am a member of the Finance and Personnel committees. I also sit on the Pupil Disciplinary and Exclusions committee when available.
I support the Head and his teaching staff in order that each individual child at the school achieves their best outcome, whether it is educational, practical or pastoral.
I have been a governor for over five years and don’t find it an arduous task. You can contribute in the meetings or simply listen; you are not pushed in any way. I have completed some very interesting training events over the years, which are usually held in the evenings for a couple of hours at a local school/venue.
Angharad Veneklaas-Slots - Foundation Governor at St. Mary’s Church in Wales School, Overton
I grew up in a regular chapel-going Welsh-speaking Wesleyan Methodist family. I qualified as a vet in 2002, married and have two children. I helped with the local church-led playgroup when my youngest child was a toddler, which led to the vicar (the ex-officio member of the school's governing body) approaching me to ask if I would consider becoming a foundation governor.
I've been a foundation governor for four years, and for the last (approximately) six months have been vice-chair of the governing body. I am a link governor for Welsh, Safeguarding and Tracking and on the finance, admissions and welfare committees.
I am also a parent at the school. I have a keen interest in the way the school is run and in the use of Welsh within the school. I try to attend all the school's church services and have been on governor courses led by the Diocese as well as other courses led by the local authority and Governors Wales.
I had to give up work due to ill health, but this has given me more time to fulfil my role as a governor. It means I am often free to attend meetings etc. during school time, which has given me a closer bond with the school and a better understanding of what goes on "behind the scenes". My availability has led me to be on several committees and also interview panels for new staff members where a governor presence is required. My previous career gave me the skills to analyse information, problem-solve and make decisions under pressure.
Andrea Evans - Chair of Governors at Victoria CP School, Wrexham
I got involved with the school initially when I was a volunteer member of the Wrexham/Wales in Bloom team. I have my own gardening business and at the time was Secretary of the Wrexham Allotment Association. The RHS competition involved a specific route being taken each year around Wrexham taking in key locations i.e. allotments, parks highways and schools. As Victoria Infant School was on the route, I made contact with the then Infant Headteacher and got involved on a volunteer basis building raised beds for vegetable growing. I was then invited to become a governor on the infant governing body and from there, chair of the interim governing body through the amalgamation of the two schools and then chair of the governing body of the newly formed primary school in 2010.
Since being involved with Victoria I have experienced three Estyn inspections all very different and all of course hugely demanding on everyone’s time.
At Victoria School we are a team of highly experienced and supportive governors who regularly attend meetings and carry out training as and when required. Many of our governors have done many years as community or LA governor and prior to that they may have carried out four years as a parent governor. This longevity enables the school to have a good mix of experienced and newly elected governors who work together for the good of the school.
Being a member of any governing body is something that becomes a huge part of your life especially as a chair if you want to carry out the role as it should be done.
You will need to give time to prepare for meetings, reading documents, updating yourself on policies and other important documents essential for the running of a school, you will need to give time to attend meetings, normally full governors once a term, other meetings at least once a term for finance or documentation in our particular school.
You will need to work as a team, the governing body is only effective if everyone is allowed to comment and question and be the ‘critical friend’ that we are asked to be - but in order to do that you have to understand fully the school, its School Development Plan and its priorities.
Being a governor is a fantastic opportunity to give a school your experience, knowledge and support.
Jeremy Kent - Local Authority Governor at Ysgol Bryn Alyn, Gwersyllt
I have always either volunteered or worked in settings helping young people and this is something I am extremely proud of. I worked in a secondary school for over four years, and I always felt that I could offer a wide range of skills and experience to a governing body.
On the governing body, I am chair of the Student and Staff Welfare sub committee and also sit on the other sub committees. My role as chair is to ensure that the meetings that take responsibility for attendance, behaviour and staff development are run smoothly and that the school’s leadership team update the committee on what steps are being taken, and governors have the opportunity to ask questions and offer scrutiny of the data to ensure we are all working in the best interests of the pupils.
Although I wasn’t quite sure what to expect on my first meeting I was soon made to feel at ease. I was provided with a range of training that I could complete to really make sure I know what was expected of me.
It has been a really exciting process and I know that the value of my time is making a difference and I would recommend anyone to get involved and support a school as a Governor.
Linda Subacchi - Additional Community Governor at Ysgol Bodhyfryd, Wrexham
I was first elected as a governor at Ysgol Plas Coch when it opened. At that time, I had no idea what the role of a governor was. I was there for about 15 years and was Chair of Governors.
I'm a local councillor for Offa Community, which is why I got elected to be on the Bodhyfryd Governing Body because I speak Welsh and have an interest of course because I work there and felt that I had enough experience.