By Helen Carroll, Chair of Governors, Co-op Academy Belle Vue
In September, Co-op Academy Belle Vue opened its doors for the first time. As our most recent addition, this is a special one as we’re building it from the ground up – literally. Building work is still being completed, so our students are attending lessons in a temporary location – onsite at another of our academies, Connell College.
This is all happening in an area near where Co-op Live is being built, showing exactly how committed we are to the regeneration of the area. Currently Co-op Academy Belle Vue only has students in year seven. It’ll slowly fill up each school year, bringing us to full growth over five years.
As it’s the first secondary academy from scratch, we had a real opportunity to shape what it looks like and embed Co-op values right from the beginning. We kickstarted this with a ceremony, presenting each student with their school tie. This was a symbolic and significant moment for them. They were all pleased as punch to mark the next step of their education and now wear them with pride.
It really made me think this is something we should do across all our academies in the future. I truly believe they’re great places for children to be educated. In fact, my own teenage twins also attend one, currently studying at Co-op Academy Walkden.
What’s it like to be a governor?
This involves lots of organisation to work seamlessly with my other responsibilities. Planning is key. I have information for the school term in my diary like official governor meetings and I also make sure I arrange fortnightly catchups. These are both virtual and in person, so I know I’ll visit at least once a month.
To ensure my interactions with the school are as helpful as possible and adhere to the relevant policies and routines, it’s important I use my time wisely whilst I’m onsite. This means thinking ahead, making notes of things I need from the headteacher and reviewing meeting agendas to fully understand how I can make the most out of each visit.
With colleagues as governors, the academy benefits from access to a wealth of knowledge across our Co-op in areas like IT, Finance and Marketing which are as vital for running a school as they are for a business.
What are the benefits to you?
Being a governor is an exciting opportunity for self-development. It’s a chance for hands on experiences to enhance yourself along with something extra to add on to the CV. But, you can’t view it just in terms of demands being made on you from the academy. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement where you gain lots too.
For example, you may not touch recruitment in your day-to-day role, but want to learn more about it. Taking on a governor’s role could provide opportunities to get stuck in at the academy, broadening your skillset further.
Or maybe you may want exposure to something new. Not every academy interaction will be on a positive subject and you may need to get involved in tough conversations through things like exclusion panels. This is a position which ultimately could lead to a child leaving the academy, but you’re part of a process which ensures it’s approached in the right way, supporting the Trust to manage the difficult decisions that are needed at times.
Find out more
Becoming a governor could be the opportunity for you if you have the right skills and are willing and able to dedicate the required time to it. It’s a real commitment as it’s an official appointment with a four-year term of office.
Currently there are governor roles available that would be great if Co-op colleagues could fill. We’re always looking for people who are searching for ways to channel their experience and knowledge into something directly impacting the local community.
Having the right transferable skills is vital, but behaviours are also important. We don’t want another panel who simply sit and judge. We want people who can create positive change; people who are questioning, inquisitive and not afraid to play Devil’s advocate. We’re looking for people who want to be proactively involved; who are keen to get hands on and stuck in to help.
To find out more about the roles currently available or apply, please get in touch with our Academies Business Partner, Hazel Remeika.
It’s a big responsibility and if you’re successful you should be proud. It’s a huge achievement and you’ll really be making a difference.