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IGovS at a Governor Conference

Collaboration to Enhance Governance: IGovS attendance at the YHGSG Regional Governance Conference 2024


Earlier this year, I was asked by Melanie Stokes (Team Leader - Wakefield School Governor Services) to compere the Yorkshire & Humber School Governor Services Group (YHGSG) Regional Governance Conference 2024. This is not a role I am particularly experienced in or comfortable doing. Give me the safety blanket of an agenda while sitting at a desk as a Chair any day and I am happy, but stood alone in the middle of a stage with 150 plus people staring at you is a very different prospect as many of you will know! However the promise of some serious networking opportunities and a chance to promote IGovS to all of those present was too good to miss.

Mel had put a great deal of effort in to arranging this event which she had managed to do by bringing together governors from multiple regions (and their associated governor services) for free. As the compere, I had the privilege of helping to guide the flow of the conference, introducing some very distinguished speakers (more of that later), and ensuring the day's events ran smoothly. Here’s a glimpse into my day as the compere of the conference.


So my first thought was I need help. A quick message to the very active IGovS WhatsApp group rapidly provided 3 volunteers to support me at the event. Alan Richards was attending the event as a key contributor to one of the workshops so he was happy to help when he could. John Moffat and Jan Linsley also said they would be happy to travel help out, John travelling from Cumbria while Jan was a bit more local at least being based in the same county. Mel had offered us a space for a stall so we designed and produced a flier and had the genius idea (so we thought) of a trolley token with our logo and website printed on it as a reminder to those who were lucky enough to receive one (they had to come and talk to us to get one, so it was definitely not free and they possibly weren’t lucky!)

On the day

The conference was held at the Education Exchange, Knottingley (a superb very well equipped venue should anyone need one) and opened at 9am. There was plenty of time after arrival to get my bearings, meet with John and Jan to discuss how best we could get our message across and grab a coffee. I also met with Mel for some last minute updates on the usual house keeping notices such as fire exits, toilets and the all important location of the tea and coffee facilities. So at 10am, my big moment arrived. I had prepared a few slides to inform the group of what IGovS aims to achieve - FREE support, mentoring and coaching to Chairs in case anyone doesn’t know, and the success we have had to date.

The key headlines here are that since IGovS started operations, we have supported over 200 governors or trustees in a variety of ways for a total of over 2000 hours. This is a huge contribution to the improvement of governance of schools and academies nationwide and I am consistently in awe of how much of their time and experience our members are prepared to give.  I concluded with introducing John and Jan who were stood by to answer questions at any point in the day. Networking is always a crucial component of such conferences, providing opportunities for attendees to connect and share insights. During these breaks, we had several governors, trustees and others involved in governor services come across to talk to us and all went away happy and hopefully better informed about our services as well as some ad hoc instantaneous advice sought and given.

 Keynote Speaker 1

One of my primary roles was to introduce our keynote speakers, the first of these being Alison Cope who is an Anti- violence campaigner. All I can say is wow! The whole auditorium was evidently emotional and after hearing Alison speak we were all lost for a while in our own reflections of life and the ones we love. If you haven’t had the privilege of hearing Alison speak about the utter devastation she faced when losing her son to knife crime, then I will not try and replay that here. Instead, please seek out the opportunity to find somewhere she is speaking or at the very least visit and read about her sons story, as well as the inspirational work Alison has carried out since Joshua was so tragically taken from her. Extremely well worth the time and effort to do so I promise.

Interactive Workshops

Those attending the conference had the chance to select one of 6 workshops as breakout rooms from the main conference. These workshops were:

(a)    Sustainability and the Environment

(b)    Ethical Leadership

(c)     Inclusion and SEND behaviour

(d)    Safeguarding

(e)    The Future of Governance

(f)      Behaviour and Attendance

All of these workshops were well attended, although it will be no surprise that with the current hot topics facing governors that those sessions covering behaviour were probably the best attended. Having said that, each topic was extremely worthwhile, each adding much value to the days proceedings.

Lunch followed which was simple, tasty and catered for all allergies and preferences before the workshops were repeated in the afternoon so that attendees could take part in a different session.

Keynote Speaker 2

Youth Leads UK is a dynamic and award-winning charity focused on amplifying the voices of young people. Established by young people for young people, the charity actively engages in school governance by offering programs that enhance leadership skills and encourage student participation in decision-making processes. A very informative and inspirational presentation was given by the CEO Saeed Atcha and the COO Mehran Mokri and I had the opportunity to speak directly to both. I was extremely impressed with their drive and passion to advance the role of young people in our society by encouraging them to take on governance roles within their schools, contributing to a more inclusive and representative educational environment. For more information, you can visit their website 

Personal Reflections

Being the compere for the YHGSG Regional Governance Conference 2024 was a very rewarding experience. It allowed me to spread the word about IGovS as well as the chance to meet some very inspirational keynote speakers. The conference also reinforced the importance of collaboration in governance and the power of collective efforts in driving positive change for our children and young people.

A big thank you to my fellow IGovS Jan, John and Alan for the support on the day, it was much appreciated and an equally big thank you to Brendan for organising all of the publicity materials, the trolley coin was unique and a nice change from the usual pens, pencils and mugs.

Happy governing

Sean Westaway

Chair of IGovS


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