Enriching lives and strengthening communities


Enriching lives and strengthening communities

CCCU Staff in the Community, Volunteers' Week, 40th anniversary

In today’s business landscape, corporate responsibility extends beyond financial performance to encompass a company’s social impact. One powerful way businesses can contribute to their communities is by encouraging staff to engage in volunteer work. Volunteering not only fosters a sense of community but also enables employees to develop new skills and gain valuable experiences. As part of Volunteers’ Week, we are highlighting the inspiring stories of our staff members who have dedicated their time and expertise to making a difference. (Look out for more ‘Staff in the Community’ blogs later in the week!)

Dr Aga Gordon, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at CCCU is a passionate advocate for education and community engagement.

Alongside her academic work, Aga volunteers in numerous roles including:

  • Trustee and Vice-Chair Inspira Academy Trust Founding
  • CEO Polish Educational Club in Kent CIC
  • Trustee Ethnic Minorities in Canterbury CIO 
  • STEM Ambassdor with STEM Hub.

Over the past 12 years, Aga has leveraged professional skills and personal dedication to serve as a school governor, significantly impacting local education.

Below, she shares her journey, the lessons learned, and the profound impact that volunteering as a School Governor has had. Aga’s story exemplifies how volunteering can enrich lives, strengthen communities, and enhance corporate responsibility. 

What inspired you to want to become a school governor?  

I have been volunteering in school governance for 12 years now. Education was always my passion and became a part of my professional life in the late 1990s. When I moved from Poland in 2005, I became interested in bilingualism and after researching this area, I quickly realised that I could not bring up my children to be fully bilingual unless I immersed them in a Polish environment and education, much bigger than our household. With that in mind, in 2010 I decided to set up a Polish supplementary school, which I am still running on Saturdays. Through this activity, I became interested in the specifics of British primary education teaching and governance. One of my daughters started school soon after and I was fortunate enough to be appointed a parent governor in 2012. 

Improving the governance of my Polish school was not the only factor to inspire me to become a school governor. I like to give back and make a difference in the local community by offering my experience and skills. Strategically supporting the school, leadership, and the children seemed a natural step to me. In addition, I was able to gain insight from within and contribute to the strategy and vision of the school my daughter attended. 

What do you think you have learned/gained from being a governor?  

I have learned a lot during my time of governance through a range of roles and responsibilities. My roles included parent governor and co-opted governor at a Local Governing Body, and most recently a Trustee of a Multi Academy Trust. In both, I served as vice-chair and contributed to a variety of committees including the Quality of Learning and Teaching, Strategic, Standards and Curriculum, Financial, Risk and Audit Committees as well as Appraisal and Grievance Panels. In my roles, I have undertaken numerous training sessions and learned about areas outside my expertise such as safeguarding, special education needs, health and safety, financial and risk management and leadership development. I have also expanded my expertise in the skills I already had through operating in a different context and learning from fellow governors across East Kent and nationally. In addition, I have expanded my professional network significantly. 

What do you think you have brought to the Governing Board?   

I have brought international experience in education and in-depth knowledge of local diverse communities. I have also made use of my expertise in leadership, strategy, and project management. In addition to those skills, I have contributed my passion, drive, and motivation to collectively implement innovation and make positive change to enable children from diverse communities to reach their full potential. 

From your time as a governor, what has been your highlight/most memorable moment?   

Over time there have been many highlights, but perhaps the most important were being a part of a team supporting the school through challenging change in staff leadership and being a member of the Strategic Committee driving the change for St. Stephens’ Infant School and Chartham Primary to became Inspira Academy Trust. Seeing the school and the Trust going from strength to strength for the benefit of the school and community has been one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life.   

I also have very fond memories of sharing lunches with the infant school children, who always impressed me with their curiosity and openness, and playing fun games and hide and seek in the playground during their breaks when I visited the school as a governor.  

Aga’s story underscores the transformative power of volunteering in the community. By stepping into the role of a school governor, she has not only contributed to the betterment of local education but also enriched her own professional and personal life.

For businesses, supporting and encouraging volunteering among staff is a strategic move that yields significant benefits. It fosters employee engagement and encourages a culture of giving back. As we celebrate Volunteers’ Week, let Aga’s experience inspire us all to consider how we can use our skills and passions to make a difference in our communities.

Governance – Inspira Academy 

Trustees – Inspira Academy 

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