Lynn King
July 2020

Back to school: could you volunteer as a school governor?

Are you passionate about encouraging the next generation to consider a career in environmental science? Becoming a school governor could help you and your organisation to better understand schools, whilst also providing some valuable personal and professional development from the experience.

Schools are integral to the communities they serve and, just as improving the environment requires combining talent and expertise from across all fields of science, improving the performance of schools and most importantly the life chances of young people requires a diverse governing board. As an IES member, your strong leadership and analytical skills, alongside current thinking and ability to operate within a wider team, make you an ideal school governor candidate.

Inspiring Governance is a Department for Education funded programme, delivered by the charity Education and Employers, whose published research Governing Our Schools: 10 Years On showed that ‘there was unanimous agreement that volunteering as a school governor was beneficial for both volunteers and their employers’.  

As a school governor, you’ll be a role model for children thinking about their future in the workplace. It is a strategic role and, like any board position, it should be approached as “eyes on and hands off”.

The role involves:

  • Scrutinising high-level school performance data and asking challenging questions to understand what’s behind the data;
  • Offering well-judged support and challenge to the school leadership team;
  • Ensuring compliance, reviewing organisational policies and managing financial risk;
  • Making collective decisions with people from a wide variety of professional backgrounds; and
  • Engaging with stakeholders including parents and the community to support the school.

There are many benefits of being a school governor, not least of all how rewarding it can be investing time, energy and skills to make a real difference to the education and futures of children and young people and to serve your community. It’s also a great way to develop new professional skills and to grow new networks. 

Voluntary work as a school governor contributes towards the Professional Activity portion of IES members' CPD records and evidences the leadership and management skills relevant for achieving and maintaining Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Scientist status. In partnership with the National Governance Association, all volunteers who become a school governor via Inspiring Governance are also offered 12 months free CPD accredited training with the organisation.

Another potential benefit of increased numbers of environmental science professionals and organisations becoming involved in supporting school governance is the opportunity to promote the importance and uptake of STEMM subjects at a strategic level within education. IES members on school governing boards could potentially also work with the senior leadership team to develop an environmental strategy, or liaise with career leads to help them make links with environmental organisations to offer pupils first-hand experiences of environmental science careers.

If you’d like to find out more, please visit

Lynn King is Head of Governance Programmes for Education and Employers Charity and is a serving governor of a local authority maintained primary school. | LinkedIn