The University’s School Governor Initiative (UMSGI) which supports staff to take up school governor positions in local schools and colleges has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Volunteer school governors play a crucial role in raising educational standards. The University’s School Governor Initiative aims to contribute to the leadership and improvement of state schools by engaging staff and alumni in becoming the employer that recruits the largest number of school governors in the UK.
As part of the University’s widening participation and social responsibility strategies, the UMSGI encourages and supports staff and alumni to become school governors by helping them to find volunteering placements in local schools and providing a network and training opportunities to support them.
At the end of 2014/15 the total number of staff and alumni governors stood at 433. This equates to 36,372 volunteering hours, 5,196 days reaching 94,850 learners. The economic impact from the contribution of staff governors exceeds £1 million per annum.
Ian Fenn, Headmaster of Burnage Academy for Boys, Manchester, who supported the nomination said: “We are fortunate to have such an engaged university that wants to contribute to schools in the community in such an ongoing and strategic way, which has been achieved by the considerable volunteering effort of their staff. I know that they are actively supporting other universities to develop similar schemes which will increase the number of skilled volunteers being placed in schools across the country.”
UMSGI is one of the University’s Social Responsibility Signature Programmes. Professor James Thompson, Associate Vice-President for social responsibility said: “It is fantastic to see the time and commitment of staff and alumni recognised in this way. UMSGI is a great example of how the University is making a difference in the community through harnessing the skills and expertise of our staff, and more recently our alumni.
“In Manchester alone, University volunteers are contributing to the improvement of schools in the most challenging areas - 79% are in schools where the number of pupils in receipt of free school meals is above the national average and 53% are in schools where over half the pupils receive free school meals.
“Despite these challenging circumstances, 80% of the Manchester schools that benefit from University staff expertise are judged good or better by Ofsted and over half have improved their Ofsted judgements in recent years. Good governance is one of the key criteria considered in order for this judgement to be made.”
Stephanie Lee, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach and Alison Gregory, Student Recruitment and Widening Participation Officer who oversee the initiative, attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 19 May where they met the Queen and other winners of this year’s award.
UMSGI is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards given to groups this year is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
The University’s School Governor Initiative will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester on 4 July.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Sir Martyn Lewis said: “I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups.
“The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”
Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said: “I would like to congratulate all groups who received this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of their fantastic achievements. The huge amount of work and commitment these organisations put into their local communities is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer. I hope these groups continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact so that we can continue to build a more compassionate society.”
UMSGI is a great example of how the University is making a difference in the community through harnessing the skills and expertise of our staff, and more recently our alumni.