New campaign to find school governors

Louise Askew, head of governance at local school trust RLT, on why she is reaching out to the Oxfordshire business community for help.

You might not have heard of Marian Wright Edelman, the American children’s rights activist.

Aged 81, she is the founder of the Children’s Defense Fund in the United States and an inspirational advocate for using education as a fundamental tool for lifting people out of poverty.

When she was 14, her Southern Baptist minister father died of a heart attack. His last words to his daughter were: “Don’t let anything get in the way of your education.”

She didn’t, going on to win scholarships that allowed her to study at The Sorbonne in Paris, as well as in the former Soviet Union.

Her life since completing her studies has been dedicated to making sure that others can follow her in allowing nothing to get in the way of their own education.

Marian is a formidable woman who has changed lives through her commitment to education for all.

Underpinning this drive is her belief that education is for “leaving your community and world better than you found it”.

It is a belief that we share at River Learning Trust (RLT), the Oxford-based multi-academy trust where I am responsible for governance.

Our schools and our students are expected to respect and care about their communities because this is what the best schools and the best young people do.

In return, the best communities support their local school and their local children.

This reciprocal support doesn’t just come from parents – it also comes from people who may not necessarily have a personal stake in the school.

It is these people – people with the drive and the skills to make a difference in our schools – that we are hoping to reach with a new campaign we have launched to find governors from the Oxfordshire business community.

We are looking for people of all ages with expertise and experience to serve on our governing boards.

Community governors have always been vital when it comes to the functioning of schools. They scrutinise all aspects of the workings of the school and provide guidance to the senior leadership team. As such it is vital that community governors have the professional capabilities that allow for informed oversight.

Your area of expertise might be financial, or it might be in education, childcare, safeguarding, HR, premises management, or marketing and communications.

It really is vital that we connect with people from a range of professional backgrounds, because a shortfall in these areas can have a major impact on a school and its local community and young people.

Our message to the Oxfordshire business community is that being a governor is about putting something back by doing something worthwhile in your community.

It is a form of service to your community – and service is the most fulfilling and noble of things.

In fact, to quote Marian Wright Edelman again: “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life.”

You can contact Louise Askew at the River Learning Trust

c/o Gosford Hill School, Oxford Road, Kidlington, Oxfordshire, OX5 2NT

Telephone: 01865 558727


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