Brooke Weston Academy’s Chair of Governors, Phil Harris-Bridge, has been designated a National Leader of Governance which means he will be called upon to advise and support his opposite number in other schools across the region.
His new role, which has been accredited by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, may include improving school performance, supporting the chair of governors or overhauling the processes of the governing body.
Mr Harris-Bridge has been a school governor for 24 years, a governor at Brooke Weston for the past eight years and a member of the Brooke Weston Trust Board. He also sits as a non-executive director on other boards, including at Kettering General Hospital, so has extensive experience of strategic leadership and working as part of a senior team.
He had to undergo a rigorous application process and induction. He said: ‘Over recent years, the need for improved governance has been a growing requirement, concerning the responsibilities and roles of governing bodies, how they conduct their business and hold the Principal and senior leadership team to account, not only for the performance, but also the strategy of the school.
‘The National Leaders in Governance Scheme recognises that if we want really effective local governing bodies, we need a mechanism, not just to train governors but to help them to be effective. The scheme to have a body of people who are accredited, recognised and trained to be Leaders in Governance, was introduced about three or four years ago, the objective being that they can help schools that either feel they need some assistance or for those instructed to have some support.
‘Applications are welcomed from those who either have a broad range of experience in a number of schools with good practice, or in-depth experience in one school, ideally one that is outstanding and already a teaching school. I relish the opportunity to be able to observe and suggest improvements, whether it is the way the agenda of the governing body is structured, the nature of the characters, being effective as a chair, the relationship between the Principal and governing body, the performance data, the degree of challenge and support expected during a meeting … I would be looking for all those things if I was invited to go into a school or academy and help the governing body to improve its performance.
‘My leadership and management preference is to be open and honest from the start. In line with the fundamental principles underpinning the Brooke Weston values and culture, the outputs of this activity need to be felt in improved teaching and learning progress/outcomes for students at these schools. I am always very keen on moving things forward. What you do tomorrow, ideally, should be better than what you did today and yesterday. Every organisation has some strengths, it will not perform badly at everything. The opportunity is there to go into other schools and academies and see what they do, identify things that need improving and also pick up the things that are great but which we don’t necessarily do at the moment and share them back here for the benefit of the Trust. It is part of the opportunity that being a NLG represents.’