Recruiting and integrating new Governors, supporting the continuing growth and strength of the Brooke Weston Trust and increasing engagement with and for the Leadership Team, are three key issues for Phil Harris-Bridge, who has just taken over as interim Chair of Governors at Brooke Weston.
Phil, who has been a governor here at Brooke Weston for ten years and a school Governor for nearly 20, stepped into the role vacated last year by Prof Trevor Kerry. With a background in business, finance, strategy and planning, he is also Governor at both Corby Business and Kettering Science Academies.
He said: ‘I see the role of Chair as being almost the business partner to Miss Stringer as the Principal. The Governing Body is all about governance, not getting involved in the 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 school’s array of stakeholders, including trustees, parents, guardians and students and we maintain the record of excellence for which Brooke Weston is rightly proud.’
‘There are three key issues facing us in the future: The fact that DfE is 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 has developed here at Brooke Weston. It is sharing the excellence and the ethos that we have here, such as the continuous improvement and our culture of excellence, with the schools that are new joiners. It is a huge project. All of that and its impact on the Brooke Weston Academy is something that the Governors will have to consider with Miss Stringer and the Leadership Team. One of the core strengths of the Brooke Weston Trust is Brooke Weston Academy right at the heart of everything that the Trust wants to do.
‘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, with a specialism 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. It is a bit daunting, as business is my comfort zone, education isn’t, it has got its own language and acronyms and I wouldn’t say I understand how education works. I think I know enough to be dangerous and hopefully enough to be useful!’