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SGOSS: Making the most of your skills as a governor

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Janet Scott is the interim chief executive of SGOSS – Governors for Schools. We asked Janet to tell us how governors can best use their skills on the governing body. SGOSS is a charity which specialises in recruiting governors with transferable business skills. The Key is currently offering a free six-month membership of our governor service to those governing bodies where SGOSS placed a governor last term.

Identifying your skills

What we mean by skills will vary from person to person, but research shows that governors from the world of work bring with them a wide range of transferable skills. These skills contribute to effective governance of our schools and ultimately impact on the education experience of today’s children.

People with legal, financial and HR skills may be the first to come to mind, but they are not the only professionals with the necessary skills to be effective governors. You could be surprised once you start to think about the skills you possess. These need to be put to good use for the benefit of the school where you serve as a governor.

A skills audit is only as good as the information provided, so don’t be modest, but do be honest. If you have a skill, make sure you describe it accurately when completing a skills audit or talking to the chair about which committee to join. Otherwise, important decisions will be based on inaccurate information.

Also, remember that you aren’t expected to have all of the skills needed. The idea is that the governing body collectively has the skills to set the strategic vision of the school, hold the headteacher to account for the school’s performance, and make sure financial resources are well spent.

Using your skills

Most governing bodies have committees to deal with different requirements and areas of work. It’s beneficial to match skills with the committee structure.

The table below gives some ideas for how particular skills can help a governing body. This is not an exhaustive list, but demonstrates how the skills you use each day can help in your role as a governor.

Sector Skill Benefit to a Governing Body
  • Data analysis
  • Accounts
  • Budgeting
  • Identifying savings
  • Team working
  • Finance function in the school
  • Pupil tracking
  • Impact of pupil premium
  • Curriculum data
  • Analysing results
  • Contracts
  • Employment law
  • Data analysis
  • Team working
  • Exclusion panels
  • Complaints
  • Safeguarding


  • People skills
  • Employment law
  • Selection and recruitment
  • Leadership and management
  • Team working
  • Interviewing
  • Exclusion panels
  • Recruiting headteacher/senior leaders
  • Managing performance
  • CPD
  • Project management
  • Marketing
  • People skills
  • Social media
  • Team working
  • Parental engagement
  • Community engagement
  • Promoting the school
Health and social care
  • Working with vulnerable groups
  • Wellbeing
  • Safeguarding
  • Pupil premium

Being a school governor also offers the opportunity to develop new skills. Formal training is obviously one way to do this, but learning from other governors is another.

As a governor, you should use your transferable skills to good effect, and enjoy knowing that children will benefit.

This article by Janet originally featured in The Key's 'Strengthening governance' booklet, which you can download here as a PDF.

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