Louise Cooper, new chief executive of SGOSS – Governors for Schools

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Last month Louise Cooper was announced the new chief executive of SGOSS – Governors for Schools. Here she looks towards the future and explains the importance of recruiting the right people for your governing body – after all they are a key source of support and having the right people, with the right skills – and, perhaps, even the right connections – can be a source of strength for school business managers and make the job a whole lot easier

Louise Cooper, new chief executive of SGOSS – Governors for Schools

In my new role, I’m excited to lead SGOSS – Governors for Schools through the next stage of its growth.

SGOSS has an unmatched record of 18 years’ experience in placing talented business executives into school governing roles. Building on consistent, year-on-year growth, we’ve helped 2,047 schools by finding them 2,800 governors in the last year alone.

I aim to continue that work by more than doubling the number of placements made each year and supporting governors to become effective as quickly as possible. To facilitate this we are improving our service by providing governors with new e-training and access to knowledge and support.

Now more than ever it is vital to increase the impact made on education outcomes through the contributions of governors. With thousands of schools set to lose money from their budgets school leaders need to address their costs as a matter of urgency. The National Audit Office estimates that, on average, state schools in England will need to find £3bn in savings by 2019-20 – equivalent to an eight per cent real terms reduction in funding per pupil. In addition, the proposed ‘fair funding formula’, to be introduced in 2018, will see nearly half of our schools lose money to pay for those others which will get more funding.

Even before these changes, 71% of school leaders surveyed by the National Association of Head Teachers reported that they were either already using reserves or cutting spending to balance their budgets. Schools which fail to live within their means will come under the close scrutiny and management of the Education Funding Agency. In these circumstances, experience tells us that the quality of education can often fall.

71% of school leaders surveyed by the National Association of Head Teachers reported that they were either already using reserves or cutting spending to balance their budgets

Conversely, where schools deliver sustained educational improvement and build a reputation for excellence, their rolls can rise. In these cases more funding flows to these schools which, in turn, can spend the additional money to secure more improvement.

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The difference in the outcomes for pupils from those schools which plan for tougher budgets and are able to operate to them and those schools which, sadly, come late to change and breach spending limits could, of course, be huge.

Recruiting the right governors means bringing the skills and experience that they develop in the business world to support schools

Recruiting the right governors means bringing the skills and experience that they develop in the business world to support schools, helping them to manage the challenges of prioritising within tighter budgets, hiring and retaining talented teachers and managing the transition process as schools move to academy status.

It’s a win-win situation – typically, while helping their schools, governors gain board-like experiences which help them develop their own professional skills.

If your school governing body lacks in any area of skill or experience – ranging from legal or financial to HR – then invite someone with the right experience in! Business executives who have been through rapid change in the commercial world bring valuable knowledge and experience to the table.

About Louise
Meet Louise Cooper, the new chief executive of SGOSS Governors for Schools, a charitable enterprise offering a free governor search and selection service for schools keen to bolster the existing skills of their boards of governors by recruiting candidates with commercial experience. Louise, who has an MBA from Harvard with an elective in social enterprise, brings to SGOSS extensive grounding in business skills and policy gained whilst working at LEK Consulting, HM Treasury, at Tesco and, latterly, as a successful business development director at the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF).

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