Oxford Diocesan Board of Education seeks new Foundation Governors for schools to help redress a 24% vacancy rate across the Diocese

The Oxford Diocesan Board of Education (ODBE) is seeking people with a variety of skills to become foundation governors in church schools. Currently there are 283 Church of England schools and academies across the diocese, with approximately 60,000 pupils. These are some of the best schools in the UK, with 95% of them judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted. However, these schools are facing a shortfall in terms of governors, with a 24% vacancy rate of ODBE-appointed Governors, or 225 schools out of the 283 schools spread across the diocese.

Governance is a crucial part of the leadership of schools; a strong governing board supports and challenges in a way which enables the whole school community to thrive. Governors set the strategic goals which ensure the school’s Christian vision is lived out. Foundation governors, along with the whole board help to maintain and develop the Christian ethos and principles on which these schools were founded.

Frances Bartlett, Deputy Director Oxford Diocesan Board of Education, says,

“Church of England schools across the diocese offer a safe, supportive and nurturing learning environment for those of all faiths and none, and we cannot thank our staff, children and young people enough for the way they have met the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with resilience and dynamism.

“As we look forward with hope and begin planning for the new ‘normal’, now more than ever we need the support of strong governing boards, made up of a diverse cross section of our communities, to help guide and support our schools towards academic and pastoral excellence.”

Professor Martin Parsons, Chair of Governors at Thatcham Parks School continues,

“I have been a Foundation Governor at Thatcham Park for five years and have found the opportunity to make a difference in my community humbling. Whilst the role can be challenging at times, I have been offered support throughout my tenure. Having the opportunity to use my knowledge and skills, especially over the last year, in a constructive, positive way has really allowed me to feel like I was playing my part in supporting my community and young people in these unprecedented times.”

ODBE welcome applicants from all sections of society and are keen to point out that those interested in becoming a foundation governor do not need to have prior experience in education. They will bring a range of relevant and current skills and a desire to help and make a difference in their local community. The role, although remote currently, involves attending meetings of the governing body, visiting the school and providing support and challenge. Training is provided from both the Local Authority/MAT and ODBE.

If you would like to find out more, please visit the governance section on ODBE’s website, or for an informal discussion contact Ruth Bennie.