In conversation: Angelo Weekes
Cllr Weekes is co-chair of the Highbury Fields secondary school governing board. He is also a governor on the Islington Futures Federation governing board, responsible for Copenhagen and Vittoria primary schools and Beacon High and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson secondary schools. He talks about his experiences of being a school governor.
I became a governor at Vittoria Primary in 2011. What stood out for me was that the school was taking children from local estates and diverse backgrounds – I too was from a working-class background and raised on an estate. My school gave me life-long learning skills, that have empowered me in my career, and I really wanted to give something back. The challenge of supporting a good school to become outstanding attracted me to becoming a governor at Highbury Fields Secondary in 2012, along with my knowledge of higher education, which I could bring to discussions about the school’s sixth form.
It’s so important to have a governing board that reflects its local communities. The lived experience of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people for example is invaluable in helping staff and other governors to have empathy and understanding. Also, if you are not at the table, you don’t have a vote, for example in making sure that cultural activities on offer to the children are reflective of local communities.
I have really enjoyed seeing the difference my role has made; on budget decisions that impact on the pupils, but also in ensuring the welfare of staff. Being a governor, I have learned about so many things, including strategic management and budgeting.
It may sound like a cliché, but the more you put in to being a governor, the more you get out. It is very important to prepare yourself for meetings by reading papers and thinking of questions to ask at the meeting, so you can be clear how the school is progressing and you can hold the school to account. Training is key and can help your career development.
Being a governor is a great opportunity to give back to the community in the interest of current and future pupils and for your own professional development.
If you are passionate about education and want to help shape the futures of Islington children, school governance could be for you. Islington Council is keen to hear from people from all ethnicities and backgrounds, so that governing bodies truly reflect the communities they serve.
To find out more, including how you can come along to a free online Governor Information Session on 23 February or 2 March, visit the Islington Council website.