Governors Mean Business: School Governors’ One-Stop Shop Volunteers – Their Contribution and Added Value to Schools in England

A report by the University of Hertfordshire (Dr Anne Punter and Prof. John C. Adams), commissioned by the School Governors’ One-Stop Shop (SGOSS)

SGOSS places business volunteers in school governing bodies and commissioned this report to assess volunteers’ effectiveness. Data collection took place over the Autumn term 2009 and Spring term 2010. The study sample was drawn from three groups: 60 SGOSS governors (with a minimum of one year’s service and all from different schools), 50 Head Teachers and 30 Chairs of Governors. All groups were split between male and female and primary and secondary as evenly as possible. Data was gathered through semi-structured telephone interviews and then triangulated among the three categories to obtain comparators for each group’s judgement of the governor’s effectiveness.

The researchers found that SGOSS governors tended to undertake the more responsible roles and activities of the governing body (e.g. Chair, staff appointments, school development plan), often displaying strong levels of commitment to the role: 97% of Head Teachers and Chairs rated governors’ attendance as Excellent, Good or Fair. Governors self-assessed similarly highly, with 96% classing commitment levels in one of the aforementioned categories, 68% stating it to be Excellent. Head Teachers and Chairs assessed the effectiveness of SGOSS governors extremely highly (respectively, 4.32 and 4.17 out of 5) with 87% emphasising the ease of volunteers’ integration into the governing body. Head Teachers and Chairs judged that governors gave the most value both when challenging the leadership to effect improvements for pupils and when supporting the head and senior management team, thus giving more credence to the ‘critical friend’ governance concept. A central conclusion of the study was that they saw the SGOSS recruitment as “an important and necessary means by which to enhance the effectiveness of the governing body.”

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