Up Close: Spotlight on the work of one of Thurrock's unsung heroes

  Posted: 26.07.21 at 21:43 by The Editor

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As another school year has ended, Thurrock Nub News reflects on a group of volunteers who keep our schools going - and in particular one of the unsung heroes at Corringham's Gable Hall School.

SCHOOLS as large as Gable Hall – which is the largest in Thurrock by the way, casually boasting an impressive student population of around 1,600 students – aren’t just run and managed by great teachers, headteachers and Ofsted reports…

In fact, there is a whole check-and-balance system running behind the scenes by a dedicated group of volunteers who ensures the school stays ahead of the game, and provides an impartial senior overview of pretty much everything school-related.

Keeping such a large organisation running effectively and happily is no easy task, which nobody knows better than chair of governors at Ortu Gable Hall, Georgina Clark.

With 15 years under her belt, you’d be hard pushed to find somebody more dedicated to the success of her school than her…

“My main role as chair is to make sure the school is providing good, quality education to all students – raising standards wherever possible and providing overview and scrutiny to all the big ideas and decisions which schools have to make regularly,” Georgina, explains.

“Some of the projects I’ve been involved with have been really beneficial to the school community – like inviting members of the Student Council to attend our Governing Advisory Body – a good opportunity to prepare students for formal meetings, preparing them to speak publicly and input into areas which affect their lives."

When asked about her greatest achievements as chair, Georgina was proud to talk about how the school worked as one during – arguably – one of the most difficult years of the school’s history – 2020.

“Obviously, the lockdown and the challenge that presented was unprecedented. Our only goals were to keep our children safe, feeling included and socially engaged and of course, keep them learning.

“My role is to support the school in achieving those goals, supporting the headteacher to conclude daily parent updates over Facebook, attracting funding to provide laptops to students at home who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to participate in online learning and supporting teachers to develop their lesson plans into something which could bereadily taught online and remotely.

“In our goal to keep our staff and pupils safe, I helped introduce a school counselling service for those struggling, whether that through their own health, their loved ones, or perhaps through the loneliness and other mental pressures lockdown caused on us all in some shape or form. This service was invaluable to those who used it and I’m pleased the school took emotional and mental wellbeing so seriously during an incredibly testing time.”

Each of the eight Governors on the advisory board at Gable Hall oversee specific areas, in Georgina’s case, that’s staff wellbeing and student behaviour. Naturally, that means she regularly works with the senior leadership team to respond to emerging challenges, like staff sickness rates and pupil suspensions.

To many, the school day might look like it starts and finishes from 8am – 3pm, but the governors, and senior leadership team have been making calls well into the evening to ensure parents feel supported in helping their children learn from home, and that the pupils have the opportunity to speak to their teachers and ask questions where they may feel stuck.

When asked what her favourite part of the role was, Georgina didn’t hesitate. “I really enjoy meeting and talking to the students. A crucial part of what I do as a governor is holding the school to account for the children’s learning, so seeing all their, frankly inspiring, work on the walls and in their books and seeing how hard they have been working is a truly gratifying experience.

“Being a Governor also means I can advocate for parents. The Governing team provides channel to resolving parent and student issues with the school. That can be challenging at times, but I see this as a real improvement area, with each and every conversation with a parent an opportunity to improve and that is extremely important.”

Georgina looks back at her work in the school these past years fondly. She said attending Celebration of Achievement events, leavers assemblies, and seeing first-hand the achievements of students, particularly those who have found school challenging at times, are the main driving factors behind her passion for working in the school.

“Having the opportunity to be part of a student’s education journey is extremely rewarding, as is working with a talented team of staff and governors.

“At Ortu Gable Hall, Governors are at the heart of how any school operates. We have to be prepared to give and take advice and support the school through whatever comes their way.

“All of us on the Governing Advisory Board want to make a difference in students’ lives and being there to support the students through one of the most important times in their development is incredibly rewarding.

“Being Chair of Gable Hall for two years now has been such a fantastic opportunity and I feel privileged and honoured to be in this role.”

Ortu Gable Hall are currently looking for governors for the next school year. If you are interested, contact [email protected]


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