Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Mentoring Chairs of Governors

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a process in which a more skilled or experienced person supports a less skilled or experienced person in developing confidence and expertise in a role. Support is offered in a nonjudgemental way in the context of an on-going supportive relationship. Mentoring usually takes place face-to-face, although telephone and email can also be used.

“Mentoring concerns activities that give people the tools and confidence to take control of their own pathway. It is about empowering people to plan their own future and capitalise on their own potential.”

Mentoring activities include:

• listening
• exploring problems
• discussing current issues
• acting as a sounding board
• identifying options
• comparing experiences
• looking ahead
• focusing on priorities

What mentoring is not

• Coaching
• Providing professional or legal advice
• Appointment as an additional governor by the local authority
• Counselling
• Directional

Experience, skills and qualities needed by mentors

A range of skills, and qualities and experiences are needed to be an effective mentor.

These might include:

• empathy
• enthusiasm
• tact
• sensitivity
• listening skills
• ability to develop a relationship
• ability to maintain confidentiality
• a non-judgemental approach
• ability to ask open questions
• ability to build confidence in the mentee
• recent positive experience of chairing a governing body
• recent experience of dealing effectively with challenging issues as a chair
• undertaken leadership training – e.g. Taking the Chair

Situations where you may be required to provide mentoring
Mentoring can be a useful tool for supporting all chairs of governors in a range of situations.

It may be particularly useful to:

• a new chair
• a chair of a new school or fresh start school.
• where the chair is supporting a new headteacher who has little experience of working with a
governing body

Mentoring can also be useful in certain new or challenging situations, such as:

• where a chair is asked to take over from an Interim Executive Board
• where chairs are leading the governance of extended services
• where the chair is attempting to implement training or change within the governing body.

In addition, there may be difficult situations where a range of support services may be appropriate, one of which may be mentoring.

These may include:

• support for chairs in schools which have been identified as a local authority cause for concern or have been placed in an Ofsted category
• where there is potential breakdown of relationships between the chair and the headteacher
• where there is potential breakdown of relationships between the chair and other members of the
governing body.

Advice from NGA Document called Supporting Chairs of Governing Bodies: A Framework for Action

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