For more than a decade, our education service has been undergoing rapid and significant change. There’s nothing wrong with change, as Winston Churchill observed, as long as it’s in the right direction, but as education becomes increasingly politicised, the right direction is often a matter of heated debate. It’s the focus of regular media attention, and an area of public service about which everyone, it seems, has a view.
Do you have a view? And if you do, are you willing to make a difference; to become an agent for transformation? There are over 300,000 people serving as school governors in England and Wales, with 40,000 to 50,000 vacancies at any one time. There has never been a greater need for people who are willing to sign up and get stuck in. A governing body represents the whole community which the school serves, so it’s important that Christians, along with all other stakeholders, contribute to the discussion and decision making processes about what, and how, our children and young people are taught. Most churches have more than one school in the vicinity, which means that school governorship is part of a direct service to the community. So how does this work out in practice?
Every community is value laden, and schools are no exception. Education is increasingly being used as an agent of the economy; schools often seem to be little more than exam factories, while a recent study found that many young people approach moral dilemmas from a perspective of self-interest rather than consideration of the common good. As a Christian, you would have an opportunity to discuss the ethos of the school, the development of the learning environment, its values, and a holistic approach to education that aims to nurture rounded people with strong moral values.
Governing bodies are teams – governors work in partnership with each other, with staff and with the school community. So being a governor is a relational activity, an opportunity to demonstrate critical friendship, conflict resolution, skilled communication and how to disagree well. You will be able to build bridges, offer a better way, explain clearly, suggest action and challenge without condemnation.
Is this for you? If so, start with a visit to Transforming Governing, for content with a vision to enthuse, enable and train Christians to become school governors. It is based on the belief that Christians:
- have an equal right to contribute to schools as governors
- need specific training and information to ensure they are effective as school governors
- need to develop a professional and ‘whole school’ approach to governing
- can sensitively and wisely influence a school from their perspective, worldview and understanding of how the Bible relates to the public square.
Transforming Governing is guided by values that include service, wisdom, justice, forgiveness, humility and grace. According to Thomas Jefferson, who knew a thing or two about governance: ‘The art of governing consists simply of being honest, exercising common sense, following principle and doing what is right and just.’ Those are very Christian values.