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Soth Norfolk and Waveney schools’ governor shortage sparks appeal

New governors are urgently needed to fill a critical shortage across schools in south Norfolk and the Waveney Valley.

Nationally, schools are facing the biggest recruitment crisis since 2016, with close to 70 per cent of boards reporting at least one vacancy – and the picture is no better closer to home.

Moira Croskell, executive headteacher of Dickleburgh Primary Academy and Garboldisham Primary Academy, said an inability to replace outgoing volunteers was proving a real problem for schools.

“It is crucial that we have enough governors to support schools, to enable them to run effectively, help the leadership team to drive improvement, support school leaders and to be that critical friend,” she said.

“With so few governors available, supporting schools in this way has become a challenge.

“Every school visit from one of my governors, pre-pandemic, was always useful, insightful and supportive. It would be great to get back to that position again.”

Mrs Croskell said governors played an important role thanks to the insight and different viewpoints they can bring.

“Both the support and challenge I have received over the years from my local governing board has helped me decide the best way forward for my pupils,” she said.

“For parent governors, it can be very rewarding to support your child’s school through this important role.”

Both Dickleburgh and Garboldisham are part of St Benet’s Multi Academy Trust, which has seen a fall in recruitment in recent years, resulting in a decline in governors.

Trust chief executive Richard Cranmer said: “In more densely populated parts of England, recruiting governors is less problematic but, in Norfolk, we have struggled to attract and retain governors recently.

“Many of our schools are located in small villages, where there are limited numbers in the surrounding community to draw upon and some of which may be residents who are second home owners, and so are less interested in being involved with the local community.

“Some of our schools are located in areas which have higher social deprivation and attracting governors there can also be difficult.”

In the trust, governors support the board to ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction, hold executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, the performance management of staff and oversee the financial performance of the organisation.

For the first time in 2022, more than half of volunteers in the UK were 60 or older and more than half had been involved in governance for more than eight years.

In the same year, over two-thirds reported that the pandemic had made their role more challenging.

Other schools in the trust include Diss Junior Academy, Diss Infant Academy and Nursery, Scole Primary Academy, Harleston Sancroft Academy, Alburgh with Denton Primary Academy, Tacolneston Primary Academy and St Mary’s Junior Academy in Long Stratton.

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