School Governors - whats the protocol?

(44 Posts)
bacon Mon 11-Feb-13 13:54:09

I have a list of issues I have with our "satisfactory" church school which I want to address to the next school governors meeting yet I have no idea when these meetings are.

I have read that they are supposed to meet up once a term and surely issue minutes. Yet we haven't received anything since the last parent rep was appointed over one year ago.

Surely these people are accountable to the parents and what's said and agreed. Are the minutes supposed to be on the school website????

Just would like the facts of what the School governors are supposed to do please.

grovel Mon 11-Feb-13 14:02:48

The three core functions of a governing body, as reflected in Ofsted’s inspection criteria are:

Setting vision, ethos and strategic direction, engaging stakeholders, and ensuring statutory duties are met;
Holding heads to account for teaching, achievement, behaviour and safety; challenging and strengthening leadership; contributing to school self-evaluation; and
Ensuring financial solvency and probity with effective management of financial resources, including the Pupil Premium, to raise standards.
They are also responsible for specific actions such as ensuring that there is a procedure in place for handling complaints; approving the school budget; and appointing the headteacher.

Governing bodies meet at least three times a year and usually rely on committees to advise their decisions. Committees may address issues such as staffing, finance, curriculum and premises.

Governors are not answerable to parents.

pooka Mon 11-Feb-13 14:04:50

If you have issues with the school, then your first point of call should be the head teacher. If you contact the head teacher and are still unhappy, then at our school it would be a question of writing to the Chair of the governing body.

OUr governing body meets as a full meeting (all governors) once a term, with sub committees (resources/curriculum/scrutiny) also meeting once a term.

THe minutes are public, and if you wish to see them at our school, the school office would supply a copy (without the confidential items).

The Governing body is accountable to parents, but a parent-governor is also an individual who will vote and contribute to discussions in a manner that they think represents the best interests of the school which does not necessarily mean agreeing with individual parents (after all, at our school there will be approx. 400 parents and they don't necessarily speak with one voice and have differing perspectives about school improvement and the day to day running of the school).

For info though, the role of the governing body (including parent governors) is strategic rather than being involved in the day to day running of the school. The head teacher is responsible for staffing decisions and the actual implementation of the school improvement plan and so on. As a governing body it is our role to be a critical friend - to support and to challenge. So individual issues about particular teachers and lessons are not in our remit really - more the progress of a cohort and challenging the head to show that progress is being made and the school is improving and meeting targets.

I am a parent governor. But if a parent raises issues I would suggest that they contact the head/Chair for resolution rather than taking the issue to the governing body myself.

pooka Mon 11-Feb-13 14:08:19

By being accountable to parents, I meant that if the school fails, the governing body/head are responsible. But that's the governing body as a whole rather than the individuals (including parent/community govs).

moogalicious Mon 11-Feb-13 14:08:20

As a parent you won't automatically get a copy of the minutes but you can request them from the school office. They are a public document but might not necessarily be on the school's website.

If you have something you would like to be discussed at the next meeting, put it in writing to the head. The head will then ask for it to be put on the agenda - BUT the chair might decide that it isn't.

You could also raise issues with the Parent Governor as he/she is your elected representative.

thekitchenfairy Mon 11-Feb-13 14:09:02

What are the issues, how serious are they? How are you expecting them to be resolved ie is it a gov or a HT issue?

Really you should go through the channels before you approach govs...if it is a class/ teaching concern speak to teacher if you are not satisfied, write to HT, if unsatisfactory response write to CofG.

If it is a playground issue or something beyond the classroom write to HT or staff member with designate responsibilities...

School policies cover anything and everything to do with school life, if these are not posted on website ask school secretary to issue copies of those you want to see. This will be able to tell you of something is slipping through the net and if policies are not working in practice.

Even though the CofG is obliged to raise any thing that comes to his attention under any other business at a termly meeting, they will not address anything without it going through prior channels unless it is a issue of grave and immediate concern.

They are not obliged to feed back to parents but minutes are kept of every meeting. These are for public record, you can ask for copies but be mindful there are always elements of sensitive issues that remain incidental.

moogalicious Mon 11-Feb-13 14:09:40

what pooka said.

thekitchenfairy Mon 11-Feb-13 14:11:46

Sorry should also have said govs are not answerable to parents, they represent parents of children at the school and are not vehicles for any one persons point of view or opinion. They deal with the strategic direction of school, not day to day minutiae.

dinnermoneyready Mon 11-Feb-13 14:14:45

Agree with the above. As a chair of govs we would probably not address the issue unless the parent had approached the headteacher first. The governors are not responsible for day to day decisions, and parent governors are governors who are also parents, rather than governors who are there to put the point of view of some parents across. There should be a complaints policy if you are unhappy with the way the head deals with your issues.

Magdalenebaby Mon 11-Feb-13 14:14:46

What everyone else said, basically.
You need to be clear on what the issues are and whether they are operational or strategic. Operational issues are not in the remit of the governing body. However, if you feel that the school is not acting in accordance with its published policies (copies of which should be available on the school website or in the office) you can write to the chair of governors pointing out how you feel this is the case and that would then become an issue that the governing body could address.

bacon Mon 11-Feb-13 14:23:14

Thanks both.

How do you know who the head chair is? Without going into the school and looking at the pictures on the wall should that info not be put on the website and be easily accessible?

Should the head chair request issues to be sent before meetings?

How do I know the meetings are taking place or can governors (like PTA) go off the boil and send endless apologise to meetings?

Sure if parents vote in the correct candidate then the whole thing should be more transparent? If I raise issues which many parents have same how do I know these will be addressed and action taken if necessary. A number of the governors I know are teachers/teachers in school spouse/in DS class - I don't want to list endless issues to think that I'm a super-mouth or a stirrer.

dinnermoneyready Mon 11-Feb-13 14:26:20

If you have't spoken to the head, you should do so first - the chair of govs will probably tell you to do so if you contact them. If you want to contact the chair, your school office should be able to pass on correspondence.
What sort of issues do you have? It's hard to offer advice that differs from that already given to you without knowing.

Badvoc Mon 11-Feb-13 14:27:33

It should be on the website, yes.
If you have concerns you should write the b of govs and it will be discussed at the next meeting.
Address the letter to the chair if you don't know the name.

Badvoc Mon 11-Feb-13 14:28:14

Complaints proceedure would usually go;
1. Teacher
2. HT
And then if no joy
B of gov

bacon Mon 11-Feb-13 14:31:09

Just read more replies so sorry if my questions overlap. There are no policies on website.

Policies I am looking for is the input of the church to oversee the overall running of the school
How are they striving to improve their appalling "satisfactory" inspection
School questionnaire to parents - have yet to see the results
Mobile phone policy
Parents parking in stupid places
Lack of outings
Forest school
etc

unclefluffy Mon 11-Feb-13 14:32:49

I agree with you that the names of the governors and the minutes of previous governing body meetings should be on a school's website. Ours certainly are.

When it comes to problems, though, you still need to approach the Head Teacher (HT). The HT runs the website too - so you could ask him/her whether the governing body information could be available there. Also, remember that the HT will be at every governing body meeting (unless the meeting is about e.g. replacing the HT).

Governors can 'go off the boil' but they will be asked to leave if they do. I had problems making it to meetings when I had a newborn and the governing body was asked whether it would approve of me continuing to serve once I had missed three (IIRC).

Pancakeflipper Mon 11-Feb-13 14:34:52

Write to the Chair of Gov's and HT or email them and arrange a mtg.

unclefluffy Mon 11-Feb-13 14:37:02

Sounds like you need to see the School Improvement Plan (SIP) for the academics and the Travel Plan for the parking.

Re: Church... Do you know whether it is voluntary aided or voluntary controlled. Ours is VC. It's basically a regular local authority controlled school with one third religious 'foundation' governors and a strong connection to the local church. The other kind (VA) gives the church much more control.

Pancakeflipper Mon 11-Feb-13 14:37:14

It's 3 strikes and you are out for missing mtgs for our school Gov's. So they don't go off the boil. Some put more in than others but that's life. And don't be too mean to them. They are volunteers, they get Ofsteded and only a few do it to make their CV's look good

Magdalenebaby Mon 11-Feb-13 14:37:44

Bacon - it is impossible to answer your queries in any detail without knowing what the issues you have with the school are. But if you want to know who the chair of governors is check the website - their name ought be there. Ours lists all the governors - there is also a list with photos in school reception and the chair's name is on the school letterhead.
Other issues you raise:
No, the chair of governors should not be seeking contributions for meeting agendas. This is not what GB meetings are for.
Meetings must take place regularly and the school office can tell you when they are scheduled for.
Governors who do not regularly attend meetings without good reason can be removed from office.

dinnermoneyready Mon 11-Feb-13 14:38:05

I think all these issues would be for the headteacher to address rather than governors. The governors approve the School Improvement Plan, which presumably would have things relating to the ofsted judgement in them. Apart from that, I would say they are all concerned with the day to day running of the school, not the strategic direction.

niminypiminy Mon 11-Feb-13 14:42:24

Governors have to meet once a term. If governors were not meeting then this would be a very serious issue for Ofsted. Governors come from various stakeholding groups: staff, parents, local authority, church (if church school), community. The constitution will specify how many of each kind of governor there can be. There is a limit on the number of staff who can be governors.

IME experience it is very unusual, in fact unknown, for a complaint by a parent to be discussed at a governors meeting, because governors cannot discuss individual children or teachers. (Unless it is a disciplinary matter, in which case there is a special sub-committee which deals with it in confidence.) The chair will normally deal with the complainant directly, if necessary taking the matter to the local authority. Governors meetings deal with policies, budgets, strategic direction and so on.

OhDearConfused Mon 11-Feb-13 14:49:38

parent governors do not "represent parents".

They are representative parents, but only in the sense that there have to be parents on the GB as well as community members or members appointed by the LA (if an LA school). Once elected, there is absolutely no obligation on the parent governor to sound out views of other parents on issues and so on, or at least no more duty than any other (non-parent) governor.

anchovies Mon 11-Feb-13 15:04:00

Personally I would request a copy of the complaints procedure followed by a meeting with the headteacher. Our policy is that the HT is the first port of call followed by the chair of governors. As a parent governor I would be happy to have a chat with you about your issues and take note of any concerns you have but not take them to the full body meetings, just forward them on to the chair for their info.

It is good practice to have meeting minutes etc on the school website but not essential. The school office will be able to give you a copy.

Also have you thought about becoming a parent governor yourself?

bacon Mon 11-Feb-13 15:28:05

We did receive a letter some time ago (2 years?) for us to attend as parents and raise any issues?? SO some of us are confused as what is said above doesn't reflect this????

This is brilliant information and I see I have to bombard the HT for all the policies and request why this information isn't on the website and why the Governors are not noted either. I will ask school secretary for minutes from the last 3 meetings.

I have to request the SIP.

Following on from a poor inspection 3 years ago - I am also going to request the local diocese for our church in wales school what input they have and what improvements they see and wonder if they have clout??? Anyone help me compose this letter and how I word this? If anyone knows of the input of the church in wales would be beneficial.

Fantastic instant info - thanks all.

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