Networks are networks are networks?

posted in: Purple Governance | 0

I was messaging with a member of my Facebook Group who kindly indicated he liked my blog, so I took the opportunity to reread that particular blog he mentioned. It was called ‘Governors don’t know what they don’t know’ again. It still feels relevant.

It has been a tricky time has this part of 2020 to put it mildly. As the end of term approaches I think we are all tired and maybe just a bit overwhelmed by it all and looking forward to some respite over the summer break. How do you feel? How do your senior leaders feel? Have everyone’s stress levels risen and how have you coped? What about September? Anxious? Many of our colleagues, children and young people need our compassion and understanding and we need to ensure that we are there for them and that services are available should they need them.

So, where have you gone for advice and guidance as a governor, trustee or clerk?  DfE advice and guidance continues to come thick and fast. Advice for governors/trustees has not always been forthcoming from many Local Authorities according to a straw poll I initiated. Anecdotally, some Heads, Chairs and CEOs have not engaged with their boards as well as, perhaps, they could have done. I think my boards may say I have shared too much in free CPD opportunities or articles that I think they would find useful.

I have written previously about the use of social media and I personally think that Twitter and Facebook groups have come into their own during the pandemic. And who thought ‘zooming’ did not need a fast car and could be done in your own home, sometimes with the assistance of a small child, a husband bearing a cup of tea or a dog barking at thunder and lightning (that was my dog!)? Who knew that looking at people’s bookcases or backgrounds could be so illuminating?!

In my role as an NLG, I have remained connected with those chairs who are being freely supported by me. Other governors have reached out for help too.  But I need my networks as well and have some trusted colleagues who give sound advice or a sense check when I get frustrated.

There are other networks that have been incredibly useful and we can see that many organisations have stepped up to the plate to engage with governors and trustees over and above the usual email reminders. Webinars have been coming thick and fast and whole days could be spent on those. I needed to choose wisely before spending the entire day on the laptop. My Facebook group, unimaginatively called ‘Jane-School Governor Group’, has expanded and has encouraged respectful debate and a real range of posts from those members.

I don’t know about you, but I have found time to engage more with those I follow and I have looked with interest into their work. There have been some thought provoking sessions on Equality and Diversity, in its widest sense, that make me want to learn more and read more. Who have you discovered, or re-discovered, that has made you think? What about those colleagues who are isolated and not in any networks? Is there a solution to those lacking wider engagement?

I have deliberately resisted the temptation to name those who have opened my eyes for fear of forgetting anyone but I am sure you have your own list.

Now for thoughts towards September! To Zoom or not to Zoom? A mixture of both maybe being considered and I do hope you are considering with your teams how we all go forward next year.

Do think of our 3 core functions and that essential part of knowing your school well with our purposeful visits, strategic away days and actually having a coffee and a chat in person to strengthen those good relationships with others in our teams. What is your thinking for September?

So, a network is a network is a network and I hope I am in your network for some time to come. We have needed each other.

I hope you have a restful summer break.

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