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Getting yourself involved: an introduction to UKGovChat

Ace of Hashtags by Roberta Cortese licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Getting yourself involved: an introduction to UKGovChat

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In this guest post, Jo Penn and Naureen Khalid, founders of UKGovChat, explain how the informal online community works and how any governor can get involved.

Opportunities for governors to engage face to face within their local and wider community include local authority training, Local Governor Associations and networks and attending conferences. Technology, and more specifically Twitter, affords an additional forum for real time interaction on an even wider stage with fellow governors and school leaders  as well as policy makers, inspectorate and innovators, all from the comfort of your own armchair.

@UkGovChat has created a unique non-subscription community on Twitter ‘for governors by governors’ run by Jo Penn and Naureen Khalid. From humble beginnings it has developed over the last couple of years into an active community with over 2500 members/followers, many of whom join the weekly Sunday evening chats using the hashtag #ukgovchat. Chats are topical and relevant, often highlighting good practice and areas for development, as well as stimulating discussion and reflection. Each thirty minute chat is hosted by a member of the community and may include one or two topics which are then archived using Storify on the UkGovChat Blog. Recent examples include ‘Falling Budgets, Rising Costs‘, ‘Coasting Schools‘ and ‘The New Ofsted Inspection Framework‘. Click on the play buttons on each of the slideshows to follow the discussion of the session in question. If you’re not familiar with how Twitter works, then the discussions aren’t necessarily linear as presented below, often many participants are tweeting at once.

As well as peer to peer discussions the chats have afforded governors the opportunity to engage directly with a variety of school and system leaders including the National College, officials from the DfE (Chris Caroe) and Ofsted National Directors in the form of both Mike Cladingbowl (former director of inspection reform at Ofsted) and Sean Harford (Ofsted’s current National Director for Schools):

Such direct engagement facilitates personal dialogue at a higher level but even more significant is the huge amount of support and advice freely given by NLGs and other experienced governors both in the online public sphere and privately offline. Friendships are forged with those you might not normally encounter, either geographically or via a common setting,  and both challenge and support offered in equal measure laced with good humour.  A search of #ukgovchat will reveal not only chat topics but other breaking news, information or queries picked up by followers and frequently governors on twitter appear to be ahead of the pack when it comes to next steps.

UkGovChat offers an outstanding opportunity to engage in continuing development, meet fellow governors, challenge and clarify your own thoughts and be informed. If you have yet to dip your toe in the waters of social media and governance please give it a try. There’s normally cake, virtual but virtuous. We look forward to meeting you in September when the weekly chats resume.

Image: Ace of Hashtags by Roberta Cortese licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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