Mair Bull portrait

Written by Mair Bull

Former teacher and content writer for BBC Bitesize. Now works at Manchester Metropolitan University in the Curriculum and Rise teams.

When the pandemic hit, I had only been a governor for a few months. Therefore, I felt compelled during the lockdown to take advantage of the many free webinars and training sessions that became available as everyone flocked to zoom and other similar platforms. 

 

I particularly enjoyed the sessions by Hannah Wilson and Diverse Educators – the recordings can be found here if you wish to check them out. I made notes about diversity, inclusion, decolonising the curriculum and specific ideas for governance around diversifying the board and recruitment – to name but a few!

 

The style of the sessions meant they felt approachable and empowering – normalising the discussions around race, culture, identity and disability. In fact, the sessions made it clear it was strange not to be challenging and questioning the current position within our schools. This was galvanised only a few months later when the world witnessed the death of George Floyd and the subsequent Black Lives Matter campaign.

 

Alongside these experiences, I was privileged to be part of a conversation about the importance of building a representative Drama curriculum in schools with the Royal Court Theatre, as part of my previous role with Open Drama UK.  Subsequently, the network published a really useful document for teachers on building a representative curriculum, which I highly recommend exploring.

 

During the governors meetings in 2020, I slowly felt more emboldened to ask those questions that Diverse Educators encourages us to pose; I triggered conversations about text choices and our curriculum, about the diversity and inclusion of staff and the recruitment process to our governing board, plus many more. As Hannah has said several times, it is uncomfortable to ask those questions, but they need to be posed. The status quo needs challenging. 

 

In December 2020 we had an Ofsted training session for governors across the Trust, and I was fired a question about the Equality Act in a mock-interview set up. I felt uneasy answering in front of a large number of senior leaders and hugely experienced governors, but I was able to outline what we had achieved in school, the provocations we had discussed, and our plans for the future. 

 

Then in March 2021, I experienced my first real Ofsted visit (virtual) as a governor. In my interview the importance of all that layering of knowledge and small but regular confrontations of the norm, felt acknowledged, important and relevant. I was able to talk about the value of diversity, inclusion, recruitment and curriculum with more confidence and power than I would have been able to a year ago. 

 

Like every school, we still have a long way to go but it is important to acknowledge the evolution and development from where we were before. I am really proud of the lovely school where I am a governor and the crucial progression that has been made on the journey out of special measures. It is important that I am educated and empowered to keep challenging the school to be the best version of itself as it can be. I am only small cog, but we as governors do have the power to enact change and empower others, steadily but positively. 

 

I am really pleased to say that we are now in a position to recruit new governors and are of course, determined to broaden the diversity of the board. If you are interested in a governance role in the Cheshire region please get in touch. 

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