A Question of Governance
With the pandemic forcing most aspects of governance into a remote framework, Caroline Whiffin, Chair of the SCC at Edward Bryant School has shared her journey into governance and how SCCs are managing in the current circumstances.
I’ve always had a passion for education since becoming a secondary school PE teacher and when my children joined Edward Bryant School I took a real interest in their education – with both my mum and teacher hat on! When the school advertised for a parent School Community Council (SCC) member, I decided to apply as felt it was something I could have a positive impact on by offering a range of perspectives. I felt strongly that I wanted to help support the school and act as a critical friend too – the two core aspects of governance.
Once I started my role, I really enjoyed my experience of working with others on the SCC and going into school, experiencing lessons and taking part in regular events. It’s an interesting process to understand how the school works and how ideas are developed across the school setting. As the years progressed, I became more confident in being a critical friend and developed professionally too with the training that the Trust offers.
Excitingly, after four years, the opportunity arose to become the Chair of EBS SCC. The role of Chair is an important one, helping in both supporting the school and working in close partnership with the Head. I wanted to help drive forward school improvement and aid the school’s strategic framework. Becoming Chair brings with it some unique responsibilities, and that balance of critical friend and support really comes to the fore.
The current educational environment - with COVID – has certainly challenged all schools. Headteachers are in a stressful position, facing situations that have never occurred before. Schools have been put under immense strain with staffing issues, budget pressures and managing the curriculum as well as helping those children who need additional support. As an SCC, we have supported the school as much as we could through visits to the school site to make sure all the COVID secure procedures are in place, reviewing risk assessments and having constant contact with the SLT and other members of staff.
Even though the SCC are not entering the premises of the school it was important to remain accessible as a vital support mechanism for the Head and staff. We have continued regular meetings with members of staff through phone conversations, email or online meets. Our full SCC meetings, which have been extremely important through these difficult times, are managed online using Zoom. It has been a difficult time but our schools have stepped up to the challenges, and hopefully have found that governance has been an invaluable element as we face the Coronavirus situation.
As an SCC member there are some great benefits but one highlight is the involvement in school events, such as the Easter bonnet competition and panto. It’s also a real privilege to have an inside view into the day to day running of the school, and see the commitment and professionalism that the staff bring each day in a bid to help shape children’s lives. I’ve now been Chair for two years and feel the role has been challenging at times but is always extremely rewarding!