I’ve had a pretty mixed career with the first part spent in the recruitment and business consulting industries helping clients in the UK, Europe and US. In 2000, I decided to leave the corporate world and scratch an entrepreneurial itch.
I’ve always had a passion for technology and I like building things and finding solutions for real problems. Since I branched out on my own I’ve been involved in four software and tech startups including a job board, software automation business and now GovernorHelp.
It’s an AI powered task assistant for Governors, Trustees and SLTs.
A little while back, I was looking for something else to focus on outside of work and a governor vacancy came up at my children’s primary school. I was very fortunate and proud to be appointed to the role. Whilst some members of my family had careers in education, my knowledge of the sector was limited to what most parents get to know.
At the first meeting I attended, it became clear to me that there was a lot to learn, especially all the policies, guidance documents and acronyms. I found it quite tough to get my head around all the things I needed to understand.
Whilst there are a lot of knowledge and training resources through partners like the NGA, Edsential, The Key and GovernorHub, it still takes a lot of commitment and time to dive into all the documentation and very often, all you want is answers to key questions and guidance on what questions you need to be asking!
With the rapid pace of tech development in areas like generative AI, I thought there must be a way to use this kind of technology and develop a platform which could help school governors and leadership teams and so I came up with the idea of GovernorHelp.
Firstly, I’d like to think it’s straightforward, simple and, (hopefully) fun to use. It’s designed to be a “does what it says on the tin” solution.
I don’t want it to be complicated to use as primarily it’s meant to be a helpful utility and something which is going to save a lot of time and effort.
At it’s core, there are specially trained chatbots which are running some of the very latest in generative AI technology. These AI models have been trained on huge numbers of data points specifically to do with school governance, teaching, inspections and the education sector. Our G-Bot chatbot is essentially an AI assistant for governors, (think of it as a governance expert version of Siri or Alexa).
Document Chat, really is something I’m very excited about. It delivers a completely new experience for users in that you can literally talk to documents. For example, if you’re a new governor and you’re trying to understand a particular area of DfE guidance, or you need to review a policy ahead of a board meeting, you can upload the whole document, (up to 120 pages) and then ask Document Chat to summarise the key points or explain it in a way a complete novice would understand. It really is a surreal experience!
The AI really is the engine behind the scenes. Generative AI is an area of technology which is developing rapidly and the applications of it are almost limitless. The capabilities of generative AI and the fact that education seems to be under-served by technology make this a really interesting use case. AI’s ability to analyse huge amounts information, coupled with the vast knowledge base it’s been trained on make it a powerful resource for school governors and SLTs. Imagine being able to tap into pretty much everything you will ever need to know about being a school governor or education leader, instantly, on your mobile, tablet or laptop.
The potential of this technology is huge and I’m excited to be working on some amazing new features and tools which will appear on GovernorHelp in future.
GovernorHelp is a new venture for me but it’s far from a solo effort. I’ve been able to draw on a wide range of assistance and guidance from many people in education and the technology space.
I’m fortunate to have access to help and expertise from senior education leaders and governance professionals including Headteachers, Chairs of Governors, school inspectors, curriculum leads and academy trusts who are all helping to feed into the development of GovernorHelp.
As GovernorHelp grows I’m actively looking to try and make it a community-driven platform where the very people we’re trying to help can actively contribute to the future growth and development of the platform.
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