September 18 2014 Latest news:
Friday, September 5, 2014
A retired headteacher has issued an appeal for community governors to come forward and act as a “critical friend” to schools in Suffolk during this “crucial time” in education.
Jackie Cutchey, 64, who has more than 40 years’ experience in Suffolk and is currently a governor at two academies in the county and a director at another, said there was important need for their input.
“Headteachers very much stand alone at the helm and I think they need the back-up and support from governors, who are supposed to act as a critical friend,” she added.
“That means they ask sometimes difficult questions so that headteachers have the opportunity to reflect and consider whether they are really doing the right thing.”
Mrs Cutchey said many prospective governors were put off by their own lack of expertise in education, particularly during this “crucial time” when there is so much focus on improving standards in the county through the Raising the Bar initiative.
However, she has stressed that governors need not be experts in education, merely be interested in the schools’ success.
“I think people worry that they won’t be able to offer much help to improve standards,” she said.
“But it’s a catch-22 situation – the local authorities are dwindling as more schools become academies, so there are fewer and fewer people out there to do this work that needs to be done and so there are more and more schools that need the support.”
Mrs Cutchey, who has worked at St Margaret’s Community Primary School and Fen Park Primary School, in Lowestoft, added that the varied professional background of community governors was often very useful for headteachers. “When I was a headteacher having people who knew about HR, planning or finance was incredibly valuable,” she said.
If you are interested in becoming a governor, Mrs Cutchey recommends contacting your local school or Suffolk County Council to find out more about the role.