Laura Tanguay, a lawyer at Birketts, shares her experience as a school governor
Posted on 18th February 2019
What’s your professional background?
I studied Law at the University of Sussex and went on to obtain a Postgraduate Diploma in Legal Studies at Oxford. I then spent two years training as a solicitor before qualifying in 2013. I have worked at Birketts LLP ever since (a full-service law firm with offices in Ipswich, Norwich, Chelmsford and Cambridge) and specialise in property litigation.
What drew you to school governance?
I always assumed that school governors were parents (whether with children at the school in question or otherwise). It was only over a coffee with a colleague (who was in a similar position to me but who already held a position as a school governor), that I learnt this is far from the case. After meeting with the Head and Chair of Governors at the school where I am now positioned, I realised that they were keen to have me on board, and that I had a number of skills which I could bring to the table. I have learnt that being an ‘outsider’ to the education system, far from being a disadvantage, enables me to bring a fresh perspective.
How was your first governor meeting?
I felt very welcomed by the other governors, who ensured that the (very many!) acronyms used in the education system were explained to me as we went along. I didn’t feel out of my depth – it is surprising what you can contribute with simple common sense – though I realise there is a lot to learn before I will feel that I can contribute fully.
Since the first meeting, I have attended both online and face-to-face training (including safeguarding and how to prevent terrorism), which has been very interesting.
How do you think being a school governor will benefit you professionally and/or personally?
I am fortunate that my work as a solicitor means that I am continually learning. However, I was keen to get involved in something outside of work which would develop a different skill-set. I am certain that my experience as a governor will expose me to situations that I simply would not have encountered otherwise, thereby making me a more rounded and commercial individual.
What would you say to anyone thinking about signing up as a school governor?
It was surprisingly simple to find out more information and get involved. I filled out an application with Governors for Schools, who in turn explored potential opportunities that might be of interest to me. I soon had a meeting organised with a fantastic school, where I was put at ease and given a full tour. If you are even remotely interested in doing something for your community and/or expanding on your own experience, you should definitely consider a position as a governor. There are, of course, some time commitments involved (attending meetings, usually in the evening, for example), but this is quite manageable, and worth it when you consider what you might be able to contribute – and indeed, take from it!
If you’re interested in becoming a governor, apply online. We’ll match your skills with a school in need.