‘Being a governor has made me a better teacher’
Teacher and KS2 phase leader Chris Theodoulou has been volunteering as a school governor for three years. He explains how the role has improved his teaching, supported his career development, and benefitted the school where he works too…
When I was asked if I would consider joining the local governing body of another primary school, I had two conflicting thoughts. On one hand I thought it could be a good opportunity to see how a different school works but, on the other, as a busy teacher with a young family I wondered if it was a mistake to take on more responsibility.
I decided to go for it and now, three years on, I’m so pleased that I did. Not only am I making a difference and supporting the local community, I’ve also learned valuable skills and knowledge which have helped my career.
I’ve been working at Eastfield Primary School in Enfield for ten years. I qualified as a teacher there and I’m now the Key Stage 2 phase leader. Developing my career at Eastfield has been extremely rewarding for me but it means that the majority of my teaching experience has been within one school.
In 2018, Eastfield joined Ivy Learning Trust and a couple of years later, I learned about a governor vacancy at Woodside, another primary school in the Trust. I arranged to have an initial chat with the headteacher and decided to apply for the role.
As part of the governing board, we look at how the school is run from a strategic perspective, holding the headteacher to account and ensuring that children make good progress. Over the course of the year, we can discuss and make decisions about anything from teaching and learning to safeguarding. This has given me a better understanding of policy and appreciation of the thinking behind decisions.
The other governors on the board come from different backgrounds and professions. Some are parents and there’s also a teacher from a local secondary school. It’s been great to meet new people and to see the school through their eyes too.
From a time perspective, I’ve found it very manageable. It’s one evening every couple of months plus a governor morning once a term, where we go into school and see teaching and learning in action. For me, that’s one of the best parts of the role. There’s also some reading to do but it’s not overwhelming and as a teacher, I find it easy to relate to. My headteacher at Eastfield is extremely supportive and is happy for me to take time away from school to fulfil my responsibilities as a governor.
For me, the biggest benefit of being a governor is that I get to see first-hand how another school works and how other teachers teach. This has helped with my professional development and encouraged me to reflect on my own teaching and how I can improve. When I see something that’s working well I’m inspired and excited to bring this back to my own classroom. I’ve been able to see schemes and strategies that are working well at Woodside and look at how we can introduce these back at Eastfield. Having already seen them in action helps to ensure a smoother implementation.
I’ve also experienced the strategic side of education, which is something that you don’t ordinarily see in teaching unless you’re part of the Senior Leadership Team. It’s helped me to understand what leadership looks like and what is expected of me as a leader.
I would strongly encourage other teachers to consider becoming a governor. Not only will it inject some new ideas and inspiration into your current role, it’s also extremely helpful if you want to progress in your career and hold a leadership position in the future.
I’ve had the opportunity to understand how a school works from different angles and see what’s working well, and it has made me a better teacher and leader as a result.
We’re currently recruiting local governors to help shape the future of our family of primary schools. Find out more here.