January 16, 2020

Rewarding challenge of shaping lives of young through school governance

Nicki Mitchell, Partner at Jones Myers, featured in the Yorkshire Post on 14th January discussing the role of a school governor as a ‘critical friend.’

“When I first became involved with school governance at Millthorpe Secondary school in 2011 I had no idea how inspiring, challenging and rewarding the role would be.

I have always believed that every child has a right to the best possible education and it has been a real privilege to work with talented and committed professionals whose priority is to provide the right learning environment for pupils .

Millthorpe was a natural choice because my son Joe, then my daughter Alice, studied there. Its ethos of putting the school at the heart of the community and of developing pupils socially, emotionally and culturally sits very well with my own beliefs.

The role of the governing body is not easy to define, but essentially governors scrutinise the decision making of senior leaders and hold them to account. I still find it useful to describe the role of the school governor as being a ‘critical friend’ to the senior leaders within the school.

Effective governance requires strong teamwork and collaboration both within the governing body and between governors and senior leaders. There are now high expectations of schools against the backdrop of a very difficult financial climate for the public sector. There are very often tough decisions to be made, with the priority always being the interests of our students.

As Vice Chair of Governors at Millthorpe I was instrumental in forming the South Bank Multi- Academy Trust, a collaboration between Millthorpe and two of our feeder primaries, Scarcroft and Knavesmire. I stepped down from the Millthorpe Governing Body to be Vice Chair of the Trust Board. This was probably the most controversial and difficult decision the governing bodies of the three founder schools have had to make for some considerable time.

In the summer of 2017  I joined the governing body of York High School, which was put into special measures by Ofsted following its latest inspection. I was appointed Chair of Governors in May 2018.

I am immensely proud of the amazing transformation that we have achieved at York High School. The 2019 GCSE results were a huge improvement on previous years.

I am often asked how I manage governance alongside my role as a partner at Jones Myers and family. I can honestly say that the investment of time and energy is more than outweighed by the privilege of working with an amazing team of very able professionals. I look forward to the next 12 months.”

Find out more about Nicki here.

You can contact Nicki at our York Office.