Recruiting and integrating new Governors, maintaining the "outstanding Academy" rating of BWA, supporting the continuing growth and strength of the Brooke Weston Trust and increasing engagement with and for the Leadership Team, are the key issues for Phil Harris-Bridge, Chair of Governors at Brooke Weston Academy.
Phil has been a governor here at Brooke Weston for ten years and a school Governor for 23 years. He stepped into the Chair of Governors role vacated when Prof Trevor Kerry retired from the post in 2012. With a background in business, finance, strategy and planning, he is also Governor at both Corby Business Academy and Kettering Science Academy, is a Non Executive Director of the Brooke Weston Trust Board and Chairs the Board's Finance and Audit Committee.
He said: 'I see the role of Chair as being the business partner to Miss Stringer as the BWA Executive Principal. The Governing Body is all about governance, not stepping into the Academy's operational activities, which are the responsibility of the senior executive team. It is making sure that the two teams work together effectively, so they are mutually both challenging and supportive. The Chair's role is to provide the link between Trish and the Governing Body so we are focused on the right things for the Academy's array of stakeholders, including trustees, parents, guardians, students and the wider community, maintaining our long record of excellence for which Brooke Weston is rightly proud.'
'There are three key issues facing us in the future: The first is resulting from the DfE changing the way it assesses school performance … pushing back more to academic excellence as opposed to incorporating vocationally focused education, which a significant proportion of students need because they are not necessarily so academically minded. Our commitment to vocational subjects remains, but the way the performance of the school is measured is changing.
'The second aspect is the reality that the Brooke Weston Trust is growing. A lot of the growth, particularly in the secondary sector, is sharing the expertise that developed here at Brooke Weston. It is sharing the excellence and ethos that we have here - such as the culture of continuous improvement and driving for ambition and excellence - with our partner schools in the Trust. It is a huge project. All of that and its impact on the Brooke Weston Academy is something that the Governors need to consider with Miss Stringer and the Leadership Team. One of the core strengths of the Brooke Weston Trust is Brooke Weston Academy with our Teaching School sitting right at the heart of everything that the Trust wants to do and achieve.
'The third aspect is to find a way for the Governing Body to engage, more constructively and more regularly, with the school. The only way you can really understand what you, as an individual from outside the education sector, can contribute, is to understand the life, work and environment of the Academy. You can't do that just by attending Governors' meetings, you have got to be in here, working with and understanding a curriculum area or student learning activity that is your particular area of interest.'
'The Governing Body brings a different mix of skills. That is part of the challenge and support that Governors are here for. Having been a school governor for over 23 years now, I have some understanding of how education works and can bring additional skills and perspectives from my business career to complement this. However, the world of education changes very quickly and has its own language and acronyms that I wouldn't say I understand fully. I think I know enough to be dangerous and hopefully enough to be useful!'