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Members of staff at Bryanston School who have signed up to become governors at local schools

Will Bridges, head of Politics at Bryanston School

Bryanston leads in politics and governance

A SIGNIFICANT increase in the number of sixth-formers studying Politics at Bryanston School has been followed by the school and its head of politics Will Bridges being presented with the Gold Award as a UK Parliament Teacher Ambassador.

Over 50 pupils have registered on the politics course for the 2020-21 academic year and Mr Bridges said: “There is no doubt that Brexit and now the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the younger generation to think much more about democracy, voting and the importance of political debate.

“As an ambassador, we will of course continue to build on the increased interest in the subject with our own pupils and will take steps to ensure that every year group has some form of engagement with politics. However, in the next academic year and once current restrictions have eased, we will also now be visiting primary and prep schools across Dorset to engage with teaching staff and pupils of all ages and explain the work and respective roles of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

“I will be more than happy to visit any school that would be interested in a talk to help develop pupils’ understanding of Parliament and democracy – please contact me at wjb@bryanston.co.uk.”  

Securing the Gold Award from the UK Parliament’s Teachers’ Institute was the culmination of a year of activities completed by Will Bridges and his colleagues, including a three-day training programme at the Houses of Parliament providing prospective teacher ambassadors with the opportunity to question the House of Commons Speaker and the Lord Speaker and to hear from parliamentarians of all parties about their work and priorities.

North Dorset MP, Simon Hoare recently visited Bryanston and there have been a number of educational visits, lectures and a mock election in which more than 85% of the School’s pupils cast a vote. A political conference for pupils originally planned to be held after the Easter holiday has been deferred as a result of the Government’s decision to close schools in response to the current pandemic, and will now take place in the Autumn term.

BRYANSTON has also become the first independent school to be recognised as a School Governor Champion by Inspiring Governance, a national and charitable organisation supported and funded by the Department for Education.

More than ten members of staff have already signed up to become governors of local primary, secondary and FE Colleges as a result of the programme which is managed by the Education and Employers charity and the National Governance Association (NGA) and operates in partnership with the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).  

Some have become governors at Gillingham Primary School, William Barnes Primary School, Matravers Secondary School in Westbury, Weymouth College, Cheselbourne Village School and Stower Provost Community School and others are in discussions with other schools and members of the Blandford Schools’ Network.

Bryanston’s Charlotte Willis-Clarke, who is co-ordinating the School’s work with Inspiring Governance, said: “Any major employer has a responsibility to its surrounding community and local centres of education and, as one of the largest employers in the area with a workforce of over 600, we are no different.

“Governors apply their own skills and experience to support the development and vitality of a local school and develop new ones to benefit their work here at Bryanston. It really is a win-win for all parties. I would urge other forward-thinking employers across the region to promote the idea of school governance throughout their workforce.”  

Eileen Brocklehurst, Inspiring Governance Regional Manager (South West), said: “Bryanston’s support is a perfect example of the state and independent education sectors working together for the benefit of young people.”

Inspiring Governance provides a national online recruitment service where schools can register their governor vacancies and search for volunteers in their local areas who can register to find a position.

For further information see www.inspiringgovernance.org