Why do engineers make great school governors?
Andrew McCreadie IEng is a lead facilities engineer within the Paint Facilities & Equipment, Manufacturing Engineering team at Jaguar Land Rover and a volunteer school governor. Andrew tells us what inspired him to volunteer as a governor, the skills he brings to the board table from his engineering background, and the benefits the role brings both personally and professionally.
“I’m Andrew McCreadie, I am Facilities Lead Engineer for Jaguar Land Rover in Solihull and I’m a school governor at a lower primary school for early years and Key Stage One pupils. It’s one of my local schools and only a five minute walk away, which was really appealing to me as I wanted to volunteer in my local community. I’ve been a governor since November 2020, so it’s been a bit of a learning experience due to joining in the middle of a pandemic.
What made you initially decide to volunteer as a school governor?
I felt that I wanted to do some volunteering to give something back, so I applied to become a STEM Ambassador, and I actually heard about school governor volunteer roles through an email from the IMechE. My eldest son had just started school which inspired me to apply for a governor role in a primary school and I could see how the governors could help to make a difference to my son’s experience at his own school. I am inspired to get involved in helping to champion STEM, and particularly engineering, in primary schools, which I think is vital, although I may be slightly biased! Taking what I’ve learnt as an engineer through the years, and applying it in the governor role has been really interesting.
What skills and insight do you bring to the governing board from your engineering background?
I’ve been able to challenge other governors, and the school head teacher, in our meetings using some of the tools that we use in engineering project management. I’ve found that many governors have an academic background and it’s been really interesting to be able to bring a new perspective. Having a diversity of people who see the world in different ways is definitely an advantage, it gives a better breadth of knowledge and it’s been great to be a part of that.
One example of being able to use my engineering background during a governors meeting: there was an issue brought to the board about fire doors being propped open, due to COVID advice to increase airflow in classrooms – obviously fire doors are meant to be kept closed, and the school team told us that they had spoken to staff, but the problem continued.
I suggested they could look at a system that holds the door open and should the fire alarm go off, it shuts the doors automatically. I was able to use the basic principles of the hierarchy of control to show that an automatic system is a practical solution to the issue rather than trying to rely on training or coaching the staff. Applying these kinds of principles to find the right solution is something that I find engineers do naturally.
Would you recommend the role of school governor to other engineers?
It’s a really fantastic role for engineers and it feels great when you’re able to use your engineering background and knowledge to offer a different perspective and solutions to problems that arise. Engineering covers so many different areas, but one fundamental skill we bring to the table is problem solving and it’s a great feeling to use my skills and perspective to the role that helps to benefit the wider community. It does involve commitment and it can be challenging, but it brings a smile to my face to know that I’m making life better for the staff and pupils of my local school in some small way. I would definitely recommend it.
Want to join Andrew and find out more about the role?