Paid Governors

(120 Posts)
NoComet Wed 27-Feb-13 14:59:13

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw wants paid governors.

I am just the sort of non professional, parent governor he hates.
I put in many hours of my time for free, attending meetings, reading documents, understanding data. (Yes, I do understand the data) and attending trainings.

I have two DCs at the school and I care passionately about their education. I care that they make more than three levels of progress and get 5 A-C GCSEs.

I care that the school employs good staff and balances the books so it can continue to provide them.

But I also care about the buses, the lunches, the extracurricular activities, the concerts and the plays.

I care about the state of the buildings, the toilets and the decrepit boiler.

Some of these things have a direct financial implications and all of these things impact on pupils, and often, staff moral.

If you are cold, missed lunch because the queue was too long or you are getting bullied on the bus you are not going to concentrate in lessons.

If you find making friends difficult then choir or painting scenery for the play can make lunch time way more bearable.

If home life is difficult it may be far easier to talk to a teacher you've got to know well on a school trip, than your head of house.

Yes, the bottom line is achieving qualifications, but to do that you need pupils who feel safe and valued.

The most Outstanding teacher in the world can't deliver an Outstanding lesson to a pupil who is being bullied and refuses to come to school.

jennybeadle Wed 27-Feb-13 15:04:45

I totally agree with you. OP. Wrote a big wrong reply, but you've said it actually.

NoComet Wed 27-Feb-13 15:06:10

In short schools need some of their governors to care about more than the bottom line and to sweat the small stuff the SLT may not have time for.

Our DCs are more than a project to be managed!

annh Wed 27-Feb-13 15:24:49

The more I read from that man, the more irritated I get. I am also a school governor and think payment would attract all the wrong sort of people. If you are not interested in being a school governor as a volunteer, how is payment suddenly going to make it a more attractive proposition? For payment to make any difference, it would have to be set at a level which would then attract people with little interest in governance who would, however, see it as a nice little earner which could fit in around the school run.

Would all governors be paid - or only some? If only some, how do you decide which ones? How would that impact on the volunteer governors? And if the idea is to attract better-quality governors, how will this be decided/monitored? Will parent governors be interviewed and no longer decided by parent vote? Whose budget is this coming from?

grovel Wed 27-Feb-13 15:31:57

I suppose there might be an argument for having "professional" clerks to the governors. Magistrates are volunteers but have, in Court, a professional who can guide them through the trickier issues. It's still the beaks who make the decision.

grovel Wed 27-Feb-13 15:33:32

By the way I'm not recommending that - I'm simply pointing out another set of volunteers with responsible jobs who get "professional" support.

NoComet Wed 27-Feb-13 15:52:15

We already do have a clerk and she is brilliant, she takes minutes and circulates documents, oversees parent governor elections and a hundred and one other things, but she doesn't speak (beyond to clarify procedure) or vote at meetings.

annh Wed 27-Feb-13 16:06:16

But clerks already are "professionals" in the sense that it is an advertised role which goes to the best-qualified candidate and is paid. We used to employ ours direct but now get it through our LA training provider and she is brilliant. As she clerks for a couple of bodies, she is very competent, knowledgeable and up to date on all requirements.

grovel Wed 27-Feb-13 16:15:24

OK, I retreat. Graciously.

(Or should I suggest professional Chairs - like stipendiary magistrates. No, I don't think I will).

Elibean Wed 27-Feb-13 16:23:56

Agree, OP!

lljkk Wed 27-Feb-13 16:27:38

I would like all LEAs to offer to take over all community run preschools. I think it's a travesty that 50% of preschool ed in this country is directed by untrained unqualified inexperienced people.

Governors get way more support than preschool committees.

Wish Gove would set his sights on preschool management.

hermancakedestroyer Wed 27-Feb-13 16:36:35

I am a parent Governor at a small village school. I work part time at a secondary school and earn very little. I am very dedicated to my cause and happily attend meeting at my expense (as I travel a fair distance to attend). I attend courses willingly at my expense and do photocopying at my expense. With the economy being as it is and household budgets being tightened I'm actually thinking that I may have to relinquish my duties as a parent governor as I can no longer afford to do it. I would personally welcome a small income for doing the hours and putting in the huge amount of effort that I do and it may also go someway to making me feel valued which at the moment I don't.
I am not in anyway a Gove fan but think that paying Governors a small income should be considered. We are not all earning enough to be able to do voluntary work.

I was a school governor at my DC's Nursery School. It was interesting, especially as I care a lot about the early years. But I found it was actually quite difficult to raise independent questions and/or get our concerns as parent governors on the agenda.
The agenda already seemed very full to me.
I think it can be quite a confusing and frustrating experience for parents, though obviously people will have different skills and experience to bring to the role.

On the report I heard the Ofsted chief seemed to be saying contradictory things - on the one hand he wanted parent governors to be more challenging, and on the other he wanted them to support the head more !

hermancakedestroyer Wed 27-Feb-13 16:38:18

Also agree with IIjkk - pre-school committees get very little support and this also needs to be addressed.

TeamEdward Wed 27-Feb-13 16:41:50

OP, totally agree with you.
My DH is a parent governor at our DC's school (and their previous school too). He has been a teacher for nearly 20 years, and is on SLT at a local Academy, so he knows teaching from both sides of the desk IYSWIM. He gives his time, and it's a lot of time, freely and willingly to support the school and make it the best it can be. But after this morning's news report about Wilshaw's speech I can see how demoralised so many governing bodies must be feeling.
Gove & Wilshaw are determined to ruin Education. It makes me sick.
Paying a governing body will not improve a school - it's just a way to encourage privatisation of state education.
Sir Michael said weaknesses in leadership, including governing bodies, were a common problem among the 6,000 schools rated less than good.
6000 schools are rated less than good because Ofsted rapidly changed the grading boundaries and schools have not had enough time to adjust policies and procedures to meet these changes. The Governors cannot be blamed for that. Also, he says "leadership, including governing bodies" - anybody who has ever been involved in a school with bad leadership from a Head will know how hard it is for a GB to remove the person from that role. Again, GBs cannot be blamed for legalities and red tape concocted by the DfE.

<rant over for now >

TeamEdward Wed 27-Feb-13 16:45:00

lljkk I am on a local playgroup's committee and agree that the lack of support and training is shocking, especially as the playgroup now has to jump through so many EYFS hoops.

hermancakedestroyer Wed 27-Feb-13 16:46:17

The agenda does seem to be packed in these Governor meetings and it doesn't seem very clear to me as a parent Governor whether I'm supposed to liaise with parents to put forward their point of view. I think the government should produce a parent governor information pack to explain quite an unusual role.

annh Wed 27-Feb-13 16:47:36

Herman you should not be travelling or doing copying at your own expense. Does your governing body not have an expenses policy? Ours does and both travel costs and childcare (up to a maximum of about £20) is covered. In practice, I think hardly anybody every uses it but it is certainly available and offered to all governors. We do our copying on the school copiers.

Concerning pre-schools lljkk ....

Whilst I agree that it would be great to encourage and reward better qualified staff I don't think it's true to say that at present much early years ed is being run by "untrained, unqualified, inexperienced people"

I have a teaching qualification and a further early years qualification and have recently been working in pre-schools. I wasn't the only person there with a teaching qualification either, but sadly these were barely recognised, and not rewarded fairly.

Many of the staff had a lot of experience and there was a lot of good practice.
The pre-schools were Ofsted inspected and two I worked in had gained an "outstanding"

annh Wed 27-Feb-13 16:53:49

Herman sorry we cross-posted! Did you do the introductory training for governors? It is made very clear there that parent governors are there as parent representatives, and not there as delegates to represent parent views or to report back to them.

TeamEdward Wed 27-Feb-13 16:54:52

Juggling, I think lljkk was referring to preschool "governing bodies" or committees, not staff in the setting.

Poledra Wed 27-Feb-13 16:57:09

Herman, it was made clear to me by our Chair that I am on the governing body as a representative parent, not as a representative of the parents, IYSWIM.

Fair enough.

Anyway I do agree that pre-schools generally should be looked at in both their staffing structures and management to ensure all children benefit from an outstanding early years education - which will benefit them throughout their learning and life.

MamaChoo Wed 27-Feb-13 17:06:21

I don't mind being paid, obviously, but (a) it's not why I do it and (b) where is the money coming from, in these times of Austerity? Not out of my childrens' education budget I hope.

jennybeadle Wed 27-Feb-13 17:10:26

Herman you should ask your chair to point you in the direction of local authority training. Your authority should have a point person responsible for governors. You might find more info on your council website. e.g. here is teh page for Richmond Council Governor Support

TheDailyWail Wed 27-Feb-13 17:14:23

You sound like a fantastic Governor NoComet. I agree with you.

AmandaCooper Wed 27-Feb-13 17:15:13

Personally I'd like to see the line management of heads removed from volunteers governors to salaried area managers. I think it's a lot to ask of local volunteers to properly hold head teachers to account. Area managers could hear appeals on staff grievances and disciplinaries as well. While there are a lot of very fine and capable governors, governing bodies vary greatly in terms of both competence and appetite for tackling more difficult issues.

Osmiornica Wed 27-Feb-13 17:18:53

"Paying a governing body will not improve a school - it's just a way to encourage privatisation of state education."

Totally agree with this. I don't know where these paid professional governors are supposed to come from. In ours there's already a mix of backgrounds and qualifications.
I also don't see where the money would come from. If direct from the school then does that mean the governing body decides who and how much to pay itself? If not then will that mean less money given to the schools for more important things. We're already trying to run the school on a shoestring.

Amphitrite Wed 27-Feb-13 17:23:13

I've been a governor for eight years and chair for two and over the years I have put in many hundreds of hours of unpaid work on behalf of the school. I am also a teacher (although not in the same school).
I completely agree with what NoComet and others have said on here. The people on our governing body are very hardworking and dedicated. We do it because we want our children and our community to have the best school possible, to get the best value for money possible and to leave the school as happy, well-rounded, well-educated. individuals. We do an excellent job (which was noted in our last Ofsted.) Payment would not help us do the job better nor would it attract a higher quality of candidate (rather the reverse I should think). Once again Wilshaw has shown himself incapable of understanding what motivates most people involved in education.

hermancakedestroyer Wed 27-Feb-13 17:37:30

Thank you Jennybeadle and Poledra for your comments. I will look into expenses policy. The problem is that everyone else on the GB have very well paid jobs and so don't feel the need to claim expenses. It terms of the induction training - it did not clarify whether or not to represent the parents.
Thank you I will ask the chair about further training. Am fairly new to this but don't feel very well supported by my GB! smile

hermancakedestroyer Wed 27-Feb-13 17:39:57

Good point AmandaCooper

HidingInTheHonsCupboard Wed 27-Feb-13 17:50:16

"Paying a governing body will not improve a school - it's just a way to encourage privatisation of state education."

Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I should have thought that if the government decided to pay governors, then they would want to try to please their employers, who would be changing on a fairly regular basis. Wouldn't professionalising the governing body actually give more power to the government? Whereas now, don't they simply try to do the best for the school they're responsible for, and try to shield it from the cuts in funding, and benefit from the rises when they come?

As an aside, none of the people I know who serve on governing bodies of independent schools do so on anything other than a voluntary basis.

lainiekazan Wed 27-Feb-13 18:24:02

I can't see how paying people would improve the calibre of governor.

I have in my time come across some crap governors (usually parent governors who misunderstand the role and think they are there to talk about parking or have an axe to grind). These people will drift off at present, but if money is involved, then thoroughly unsuitable applicants might hang on for dear life.

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 18:31:56

I would definitely like to make sure that governorrs are not left out of pocket, because that puts off people who might need to pay for childcare or transport.

(I say this from experience. I was a governor at my DC's primary schools and the meetings were always 4-6pm, and I am a lone parent. There was no creche.)

So I think there should be some sort of attendance allowance.

Also, if governors had a training alllowance it would help them access quality training, at a time when LAs are slashing the free and subsidised training available centrally for budgetary reasons.

NUFC69 Wed 27-Feb-13 18:34:54

Paying governors seems like insanity to me - look what happened when we started to pay local councillors; they are now career politicians. A couple of years ago our local council (Northumberland) published how much they were paying councillors and the sums involved were staggering; I think that every councillor got over £10,000 and that didn't include expenses which should quite rightly be paid. Where would the money come from? I am quite sure that we would all rather the schools had the extra money. And I am pretty sure that the people who are already governors are totally committed in any case.

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 18:38:17

Quite a lot of councillors are also school governors and sit on the Boards of local charities and community groups.

lainiekazan Wed 27-Feb-13 18:50:43

Absolutely, nufc69.

The amount paid to councillors is a disgrace. Round here it is a (retirement) job for life and one that pays jolly well. Many councillors' interest and attendance is an outrage. In fact I have occasionally considered mounting a campaign to overhaul the system!

NoComet Wed 27-Feb-13 18:52:21

Thanks for the support. I don't object to travel expenses and child care costs, but actually paying governors strikes me as a very slippery slope.

I feel very fortunate that I escaped our preschool committee. The primary school had to hand over control just as DC left.

I know it is a very difficult job, they are part governors and part fundraising group. Given our pre school has 20 or 30 pupils the pool of parents is tiny and people are more or less forced to volunteer.

singingsoprano Wed 27-Feb-13 19:05:37

I agree with the OP, but perhaps expenses should be paid for travel etc.

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 19:05:39

Councillors used to get expenses only for attendance - literally, the 'attendance allowance'.

I think it moved to annual allowances (tax and NI payable) to save money because the other system was so cumbersome to administer; and there was also feeling that you needed to compensate people for missing out on paid work opportunties - some councillors easily do 25-30 hours a week - otherwise the councils would stay dominated by retired businessmen.

How many hours a week should a Chair of Governors put in? Line management, running a multi-million pound budget - sounds a bit heavy duty to me.

dayshiftdoris Wed 27-Feb-13 19:06:36

I have just become a Governor and I have to say that whilst I don't agree that payment is the answer that I do agree that the quality of the Governing body can have a direct impact upon a school.

There are lots of reason why I have volunteered as a Governor (I am actually a LA Governor for a school that I dont have children at) but one of those reason is that I saw first hand how a Governing body made up entirely of staff and parents damaged a school and affected the children within it.
The school was investigated as it was failing SEN pupils in the end but with a number of parents of the Governing body who openly felt that there were too many of 'those' kids in the school then it was no surprise.

We are now in a different school and one of the reasons I am not on there Governing body is that I lost the election by 1 vote after only a month in the school yard and so was asked to consider the LA position... however this would have meant that over 60% of the Governing body were parents and after I long chat with the Clark I declined the position.

In a good school this will never be an issue as they self-regulate well - my son's school have been more than open about their concerns and sort my opinion on their Governing body too... the school I am Governor for didnt know me from Adam and thus decided to interview before offering me the position. They are a religious school and I do not have a faith yet they see this as a positive not a negative.

Failing schools will continue to fail and paying their Governors will not motivate them to change but rather will pay them for being poor leaders. Rather when a school is not performing then the Governing body should be audited and a perhaps an LA Governor with experience should be co-opted on.

exoticfruits Wed 27-Feb-13 19:10:16

I can't see how paying people would improve the calibre of governor

I can't see that they would pay enough-or where the money is coming from. However, at the moment people put in an amazing amount to work for free and then get criticised for not being good enough!

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 19:20:04

I think that's why in my area lots of LA Governor appointments are councillors - because they are already receiving a remuneration, they feel it's the right thing for them to do. Or is it having the confidence to step forward?

I know of two Chairs of Governors who are CofE vicars - again, already on the 'social payroll' and willing (obliged?) to step forward.

Still masses of vacancies, though - and too many schools that aren't good enough.

snoworneahva Wed 27-Feb-13 19:33:30

I agree wholeheartedly with the OP education is about more than just numeracy and literacy and also agree with AmandaCooper regarding having something akin to an Area Manager to keep the Head in line.

Osmiornica Wed 27-Feb-13 19:37:40

Linerunner - we're allowed to claim expenses including childcare if needed. Have you asked? You shouldn't be out of pocket for volunteering.

" then they would want to try to please their employers, who would be changing on a fairly regular basis."
But I would be worried about them pleasing their employees at the expense of things not covered by Ofsted (presumably the way they'd judge success or failure of the governors).

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 19:43:01

Hi Osmiornica - I was last a governor a good few years ago, but two different Headteachers told me there were no expenses payable for childcare.

Do your expenses payments come from the school?

TeamEdward Wed 27-Feb-13 19:51:23

If a school is a church school, then a rep from the diocese will be on the GB. That's why so many vicars/deacons/vergers are on GBs.

Talkinpeace Wed 27-Feb-13 20:11:04

as somebody who deals with Parish Councils a lot,
the idea of a professional Clerk to the Governors
in charge of training, correspondence, elections and compliance is a MUCH better idea
as clerks could work for several schools - who would share the cost,
they are already paid,
and could have direct reporting lines for if things started to go pear shaped

Paying governors is unlikely to increase the quality of the governors and is likely to be very expensive. I have been a governor but am not one at the moment. I am a qualified professional in a field relevant to school governance and this was valuable to the school when I was a governor. The hourly rate that would be paid to governors would be nowhere near my hourly rate for my job so wouldn't be much of an incentive for me and would probably seem a bit insulting, where as doing it as a volunteer felt like a good deed in the community. Also a lot of governors devote a huge amount of time to it, particulary the chair. The cost of paying for those hours would be enormous.

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 20:31:02

I don't think it could be afforded at jury service rates. Attendance allowance / expenses maybe.

But there are so many vacancies, and so many schools judged in need of improving - and like posters have said above, a GB of mostly staff and parents talking about parking isn't a good GB.

Wigeon Wed 27-Feb-13 20:37:31

Hmm, very interesting thread. Does anyone know what Gove's view is? Because that is surely more key, than Sir Michael's view, to whether or not there is any realistic prospect of governors being paid.

Sir Michael has not suggested where the money to pay governors would come from. I would imagine that there is no money anywhere...

It seems to me that there is a very interesting parallel with payment of charity trustees (where most charities are not allowed to pay their trustees, but a small minority are) - arguments for and against the payment of trustees have been rumbling on for years. There's a very interesting blog from the charity umbrella body NCVO here about the issues (the thoughtful, informed comments at the end of the blog are also interesting).

The charities which tend to pay their trustees tend to be the mega big ones (income over £10 million) with large, complicated operations and many staff (think Wellcome Trust). Is a very large school the kind of place where paid trustees would make sense?

I am a parent governor at an Infants' School - in my experience so far, much better than paying us would be much better to have greater supervision (from the local Council? The School Improvement Partner? From Ofsted?) of whether the Governors had any clue at all, or even if they did, whether they actually carried out their duties properly. Leaving the governing body to its own devices for years and years between Ofsteds means that there are very long periods for things to drift / coast / potentially go wrong. Some children in the school will have gone through the whole school without it being inspected at all, since there are only 3 years (it being an Infants), and some inspections are now only every 5 years. There is no real accountability in the meantime of a governing body which is complacent, un-engaged, coasting, reluctant to challenge or even engage with a difficult and entrenched head...

peacefuleasyfeeling Wed 27-Feb-13 20:49:11

Governance in our school is good and the level of engagement and enthusiasm is sometimes touching just because the governors are doing it from a place of genuine care and generosity. They are passionate about our school and I wonder if we would attract the same kind of people if the positions were paid.

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 20:50:48

I agree about difficult and entrenched Heads.

I sat in a GB meeting once and we voted to alter a policy. The Head completely ignored the vote and carried on regardless. Cringe-making stuff, especially when at the next meeting, when people knew there would need to be an awkward challenge, they sent apologies and it wasn't even quorate.

Wigeon Wed 27-Feb-13 21:04:07

peacefuleasyfeeling - but the converse is that some (GB) volunteers lack engagement and enthusiasm, don't genuinely care and aren't that generous (with their time or brain power)...what do you do about them?

I'd be amazed if governors actually accepted payment. To be sitting in a meeting discussing what cuts to make because of the poor budget available and know that you were getting paid to be there? I couldn't do it. I would much rather the money was spent in the school.

ReallyTired Wed 27-Feb-13 21:16:48

My understanding was that it was only suggested that governors should be paid for failing schools. A govenor should be a critical friend and a failing school needs someone who knows what they are talking about to give high quality advice. I suppose the logic is that all failing schools are turned into academies and that paid governors replace the local authority advisors.

Parent governors sometimes only see a school from their view point. Having governors with no connection to the school and with no relgious axe to grind is essential. Many schools struggle to attract community governors of any description.

merrymouse Wed 27-Feb-13 22:05:28

I thought they were only proposing paying governors where they needed to recruit experts to turn around failing schools? I didn't think it was suggested that all governors should be paid?

bigbuttons Wed 27-Feb-13 22:19:42

my mum is COG at a very large comprehensive where my children go. She is always there having meetings with the head and staff. She can only do the 'job' because she works part time and gives up an enormous amount of her time. I think she should get something for her time and energy.

Talkinpeace Wed 27-Feb-13 22:20:37

I heard Wilshaw being interviewed on the R4 Lunchtime news.
He is just kite flying.
For a start he talked about LEAs covering the costs - which is bilge as half of secondary schools are no longer in LEA control.

It will cost money
ergo
it will not happen

HappyMummyOfOne Wed 27-Feb-13 22:21:05

I certainly wouldnt be happy to be paid as a governor, school budgets barely cover anything as it it. Neither would i accept expenses.

I do it as have an active interest in the school and the childrens futures, money wouldnt make me do it any better as i already give 100%. Its a lot of hours but i knew that before signing up. We use skills audits to ensure governors are used ti the strengths etc.

MegBusset Wed 27-Feb-13 22:37:36

I'm the chair of our local preschool committee and think it's a terrible way to run a preschool. We have a nightmare trying to get enough parents to volunteer for the committee, most DC are only at the preschool for a year (two at most) so the committee turnover is very high.

Those who do volunteer, although keen to help, are mostly completely inexperienced (I count myself among them). I have to make decisions about training, recruitment, fees, wages and business decisions which I am totally unqualified to do. But I had to step up as chair because nobody else would, and the setting would not have been able to remain open.

If the committee could be paid a small stipend it would certainly help attract parents. It may also raise our reputation with the preschool staff, who sometimes like to complain about the committee while forgetting that they're getting paid for their work and we're not!

Having been a parent governor I think it would be quite nice to be paid a small amount to cover your expenses and as a token of appreciation.
It would be nice not to have to work out mileages and claim for petrol, or stamps, stationary, or photocopying or what have you. Would be nice if you were just given £5 or a £5 voucher at each meeting you went to ! Because most people in my experience end up not claiming anything.

LineRunner Wed 27-Feb-13 22:47:16

MegBusset You are spot on about this. I have seen pre-school and community association committees go completey down the pan because they were hopelessly out of their depth and/or unaccountable and without a professional lead.

By 'professional' I mean attitude not fees.

But it is harsh I think to expect volunteers to be out of pocket if it deters them from participating in one of the most important governance roles in the country.

BoffinMum Wed 27-Feb-13 22:47:27

Well, I'm governor of two schools. I have a PhD in Education, I am an ex teacher and I'm currently a lecturer in education. Properly qualified for the job by anyone's standards.

If they want me to be paid they'll have to pay consultancy rates, and do it through my employer, which would represent a massive cost. Or they can have me for free, like at the moment.

Interestingly I used to be on the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board, and they brought in payment there, so I stood down, because the rate was low and I suddenly felt undervalued.

BoffinMum Wed 27-Feb-13 22:48:49

I would like my babysitting paid for though, when I am attending meetings, and I would like sandwiches and coffee as I have often come straight from work and end up being there until 9.30. I think that would be a good compromise.

edam Wed 27-Feb-13 22:53:56

Speaking as a governor, Wilshaw can fuck right off, the ungrateful hound. We give up huge amounts of time and work extremely hard - most of us for no more reward than the sense of satisfaction you get from contributing towards improving things for children. School governors are, apparently, the largest group of volunteers in the country. The patronising idea that only 'experts' make good governors is appalling - only the professional middle classes and senior managers count, how on earth could ordinary parents and members of the community have anything to contribute, he sneers.

It's that kind of thinking that gave us the Mid-Staffordshire scandal in the NHS, where probably 1,200 people were killed - the worship of senior management, executive status and a very skewed view of 'leadership'. Leadership, in that case, which meant fat cat executives demanded the hospital chase 'strategic goals' i.e. not employing enough nurses and doctors in order to balance the books and chase Foundation Trust status. There is a real risk that foundation schools will go the same way as foundation trusts - some of them more focused on financial targets and forcing staff to chase damaging management objectives rather than the core job of, in the NHS, caring for patients, or in schools, educating children.

We don't need more 'experts' who will do the bidding of ministers or vested interests such as Ofsted.

Yes Boffin, the Quaker committees I'm on always look after us really well with lovely pastries and hot drinks, or lunch etc. smile So agree some sandwiches would be nice with the tea and coffee.

Most people claim their travel expenses there too but then they've generally come from all over the country, and not just hopped in the car and driven up the road (as I did as a parent governor) Thing is it seems more silly to claim then, but all the little journeys must add up to something over a few years !

grovel Wed 27-Feb-13 23:15:55

BoffinMum , that's great but I suspect from your tone that you may be a bit overbearing. You're hugely qualified but, if you read out your post at a governors' meeting, I' m afraid normal mortals might shrink.

BreconBeBuggered Thu 28-Feb-13 00:23:42

Wilshaw can fuck right off, the ungrateful hound <THIS

FrancescaBell Thu 28-Feb-13 02:25:48

This was just part of a bigger speech to launch the new School Data Dashboard so I think some of his comments might have been taken a bit out of context.

I'm a secondary school governor and I think he has a point. The workload is enormous but like every group of volunteers, it's currently not evenly shared despite numerous efforts to secure more equitable commitment and involvement. Trying to recruit new governors is hellish and of those who do volunteer, some of them misunderstand their role and often resign when they realise how much is expected of them. Training in our county is primarily geared towards primary schools and provision is poor with training locations up to 2 hours drive away.

Not all governors have the necessary assertiveness and data management skills to hold the school to account and ask challenging questions about student attainment and financial management especially and yet effective governance is measured by OFSTED as part of the Leadership and Management assessment of the school. Governors need to realise that OFSTED inspectors have every expectation that the governors they interview will have a grip on the data, patterns, trends and fiscal management but it is obvious in meetings that some don't understand the data supplied, let alone possess the insight to ask for what's not supplied by the Head and SLT. OFSTED don't tend to ask governors about trips, lunches and the state of the loos; they ask about attainment and evidence of where governors have challenged the school to raise standards.

I'm still on the fence about whether governors should be paid but I do think the role needs to be professionalised. If governors were paid it might make them more accountable to the Chair for their performance and it might make recruitment easier too. I don't agree that recruitment should be restricted to those in senior management jobs, just the people with the skills determined by that body's skills audit. Governing bodies already have the facility to ask for skills that are particularly needed (e.g. Finance, HR) but currently most have to take anyone who's willing to do it for free, regardless of ability, capacity or commitment.

If a school is high attaining and well managed financially, I can understand why governors feel they can add value by concentrating on pastoral and premises issues, but if they do this to the exclusion of the role that OFSTED measures and attainment slips, they will be left vulnerable. This is particularly true of Academies that have Trustee governors who are personally liable for the school's effectiveness. It's expecting perhaps too much to make volunteers personally and financially liable without recompense.

Want2bSupermum Thu 28-Feb-13 04:34:36

To allow access to all to volunteer I think there should be provision for expenses to be covered. Those expenses should include, as Boffin mentioned, childcare and dinner.

Wages are paid for jobs. This is a position where people are giving back. It would be a sad day if school govenors are seen as holding a job rather than giving back.

FrancescaBell Here in the US my employer release me to the charity I support (I am the treasurer) for 16 hours a month plus incurred expenses (milage, meals etc). I get paid through my employer and they are able to deduct the expense as a charitable contribution. My previous employer released me for 10 hours a year. Not enough time but it was better than nothing.

The set up with my new employer is fantastic and nearly everyone does some sort of volunteer work. I think something like this would result in more people wanting to volunteer who are qualified in specialty areas (HR, finance, investment). I don't think the issue is people not wanting to volunteer but that people can't afford to be out of pocket.

PolkadotCircus Thu 28-Feb-13 09:30:28

Totally agree with Francesca and think govs need to be professionalised more.

I personally was shocked at how dire and ill informed our govs are which got reflected in our latest Ofsted inspection in which our school plummeted from Outstanding to Satisfactory(the govs being a big cause). Having been on the parents forum I was shocked at how little they actually knew re expectations,progress etc in education.Our weak govs don't hold our weak head to account,they kind of scratch each others backs. I do wonder if pay might make that worse.

I would welcome any change that improved gov quality and enabled those best suited/qualified for the job getting the roles.I think those with experience in any education sector would be extremely valuable and would like to see more.

FrancescaBell Thu 28-Feb-13 11:22:15

I can see that if an employer is already partially footing the bill in paying for time off it would mean governors being paid twice but as per any new government sponsored initiative, if payment were introduced it would have to be a holistic measure and not just a kneejerk, discrete action. Many of the governors I've met are self-employed though and the opportunity and financial costs to them of turning down work to attend meetings on time, chair appeals or conduct day-long governor visits are significant. This means that potentially the recruitment pool narrows to those who can afford to be SAHPs or work in organisations that give time off.

I used to do some other unpaid voluntary work where the only (small) payment on offer was after taking a qualification at one's own expense and the out of pocket expenses were enormous. Again, this restricted the pool of talent to those with lifestyles and incomes that could support that, when the client group would have benefited from the life skills of people from from a wider socio-economic background. Like school governership, it attracted only those who were well-off or who had attained long service or seniority at work, missing out on a wider pool of talent.

While I think that having some educationalists is helpful on a GB, it's healthier to have some from non-education backgrounds who will question why things are done certain ways and can bring business or other skills to the table. The governors who have really added value on ours are those who are used to managing performance (esp in a unionised environment), have conflict management skills and who are skilled at managing a budget.

kimorama Thu 28-Feb-13 11:23:19

Sir wilshaw does not want paid governors he was doing a publicity stunt.

kimorama Thu 28-Feb-13 11:24:37

As for peoples motives for being governors. well motives are usually MIXED because thats the way us humans are

ProudAS Thu 28-Feb-13 12:07:27

I don't think it would be unreasonable to re-imburse school governors for loss of earnings if their role means taking time off work (and assuming that there's money available to do that). I fear that anything above that could attract people for the wrong reasons.

We now have a situation where councillors are paid and possibly going into local politics for the money rather than to make a difference to the local area.

My GF was a local councillor for many years, he never received payment (other than expenses) and did it because he was passionate about the way the area was run. A school governor should be in place for similar reasons.

guineapiglet Thu 28-Feb-13 13:02:20

Hi - I have been an unpaid committee member at preschool ( 8 years) and a parent governor for 4 years at primary school, and my BiL is a governor at the local High School. My motivation has always been to try and put something back into something which is important to me and the community and to be involved in a small way in what my kids do. Like many others on here, the experience hasn't always been a labour of love, there have been many difficult encounters, having to deal with very tricky and arrogant personalities etc etc.
Governors are expected really to hit the ground running, there was no preparation,although our county did run many training sessions throughout which many of us attended when we were able to. Our formal meetings were usually at least 4 hours long initially, but many of us pushed for a half termly regular meeting to deal with all the issues outside the formal business. ( NO refreshments/no food, usually got home around 930 at night after having started at 530). There was never any review or appraisal, and if you did in any way challenge the status quo or decisions, you would be highly unpopular.

Many of the issues discussed are legal requirements - and governors bear significant responsibilities. Our head completely dominated the meetings and usually would listen to discussions but would not countenance dissention, usually the decision would have been made with the CoG at their pre meetings - looking back on it completely unacceptable and undemocratic, but novice parent governors very often do not have the clout to stand up and be counted. Our head was in effect quite a bully, and this is way our governing body would have benefitted from independent examination - not just when being under OFSTED examination, where it was found wanting.

My way of operating was to listen, absorb and then work to my strengths and skills, along with other colleagues we would hold informal meetings outside the formal govs meetings ( on our time) to try and get the work done and resolved.

Governing bodies operate best when there is a good and representative mix of people with a whole range of talents, experience and expertise, but usually it is up to the parent govs to actually do the donkey work and get things done I( bitter experience). Of course we would all have liked some acknowledgement of our time and efforts in terms of financial reward, and maybe this would have made us all more accountable in some way ( which we were anyway) - to me the role of each of us was just as important - not just the 'experts' who had a lot to say, but in effect did none of the ground work....

Childpatch Thu 28-Feb-13 13:58:48

I'm not bothered about the pay part, as a previous comment says "that's not why I do it" - i think there is a case for some quality checks on governors, IQ, abilities, experiences, do they actually care? what can they bring? A selection process would be useful

grovel Thu 28-Feb-13 14:21:36

A friend of mine is a governor of an independent (boarding) school. They try to have:

One lawyer
One accountant
One educationalist
One "business person"
One surveyor
One headteacher from a similar school
One university lecturer/professor
Two (recent) ex-parents
A vicar/bishop
A banker

Apparently their discussions are lively (in a good way) but also fairly well-structured because no-one bangs on with too much "home-made" expertise in the presence of real expertise.

SunflowersSmile Thu 28-Feb-13 14:34:04

Don't think the IQ test would go down well childpatch!!
[II hope it wouldn't anyway].

BoffinMum Thu 28-Feb-13 14:36:33

Nah, they are a stroppy lot on the Board and I am deployed as a tactical missile by the others from time to time to shut two other windbags up. Loads of the others are very well qualified anyway, so my qualifications look useful rather than resplendent IYSWIM.

SunflowersSmile Thu 28-Feb-13 14:42:18

I am still laughing over thought of IQ tests for governors.
In a debate on an issue could a governor pull rank and say heh I should 'win' as have higher IQ than you!!
Hope you weren't being serious childpatch.......

SunflowersSmile Thu 28-Feb-13 14:43:57

What on earth is 'home made' expertise grovel?

grovel Thu 28-Feb-13 14:55:35

"Home made" expertise is what we get when my choral society's committee (me included) discuss, for example, marketing. In the absence of anyone with real marketing know-how, we all have the confidence to blather on about the subject at length.

newfashionedmum Thu 28-Feb-13 16:24:18

grovel at the risk of going off topic - and right there is an example of one reason why there is such a divide in achievement between the independent and state sector!

On the actual topic of the OP, bloody well said that Governor. There are a couple of governors on our GB who have teaching expertise and can make informed challenge around english and maths attainment but the rest of us bring other skills and concerns that help to create the right conditions for children to learn in - y'know like having an appropriate building, a cooked lunch inside them if possible, no bullying in the playground and a chance to be shine at other things if they struggle with the three Rs to build their confidence and social skills and make them the kind of responsible citizens we really need.

I'm a governor too and I think that the money would be better off spent on the children rather than the governors. I don't want paying. For what they could pay it us, it won't make that much difference to the quality of governors and they couldn't afford what it costs for our skills (in finance, marketing, health, safety and building management and IT on our governing body at the moment). It really is better to be spending the money on the school.

I have some sympathy with the problem of poor govering bodies. Our schools was, by the admission of the people who were on the governing body at the time about 6 years ago, badly run and the governors knew very little about what was happening in the school. It all came to a head when Ofsted came in and completely slated the school and the governors were shocked at how badly the school was really doing. They shouldn't have been shocked, they should have known and been working towards making things better but they were only dealing with the 'marginal concerns' and not getting to the nitty gritty of what the school was doing. The Head and the chair had kept them in the dark. Long story short, they got rid of the chair, the head left anyway and we have worked our way back up to a 'good' when we had an Ofsted last term. Having been one of the 2 governors Oftsted talked to they really grilled us - they expected us to know the school from all angles, academic and the more marginal concerns which is how it should be otherwise what is the point of having us? What exactly are we there for if not to hold the SLT accountable for the way they run the school? Thankfully our head is very open and we gave a good account of ourselves.

It seems the same thing has happened in another school locally in the last few months but in both cases, it wasn't so much the governors who were at fault, except in so far as they perhaps should have known they weren't getting the full picture. It was down to the chair and the head. You need them to be good or the governing body can't do their job properly. The other thing you need is good training so the governors know their responsibilities and rights and stand a chance of challenging the SLT if things start going wrong. The final thing, which may be in place already for all I know, is somewhere outside of the GB that the governors can go to for advise if things start to go wrong and the SLT start dodging their responsibility to the school and the governors. If there are serious concerns there should be back up somewhere outside of school.

I look forward to a good debate on this next week on our next committee meeting. As governor responsible for keeping up to date with Ofsted's latest pronoucements I can see this one making a bit of a splash!

And can I just say, having read some more about this Dashboard thing, what is wrong with RAISE-online and FFT data? And how is it useful if it is only a snap shot updated once a year? You need the data to be constantly updated as it is in our school - if a year has passed before you notice that you arem't reaching the standard it is already too late.

As an ex-Governor, who stood down after two years due to a bullying CoG, I fully agree with those who have expressed frustration that the issue is not one of payment.

The issues are:
- Head & CoG in cahoots. If one or other or both are difficult characters, they can sew up a Board of Governors very effectively. Trying to unseat an entrenched partnership is almost impossible - the time and effort required to gather evidence, build a consensus among other Governors, address issues and find support outside of the school is just overwhelming.
- CV Governors - often, ime, local counsellors, who see it either as a CV plus point or a box-ticking exercise in community involvement. The Parent Governors do bear the brunt of the workload.
- Teaching teams who see the BoG as, at best, a burden and at worst, an enemy.

What BoG's need:
- Support to induce and train new Governors.
- Access to independent assessment of Heads
- Some way of assessing effectiveness of CoG -and making sure they can't be re-elected year after year after year.
- Effective and knowledgeable clerking

Due to budget restraints, the services provided by local government in terms of clerking, training and support is being charged back to the school at ever higher cost for less-decreasing service or knowledge.

It is all down to individuals. Get a good Head and a competent Chair who understands how to value, motivate and empower the BoG's - then its all good.
Get an embattled Head, an entrenched Chair, a majority of box-ticking Governors and no LEA support - then the few poor governors who are trying to challenge and support are just weeping in frustration.

<and breathe>

edam Thu 28-Feb-13 20:20:20

Quite, BB. The dashboard is simplistic - fine for some purposes but the governors should be using far more detailed data eg RAISE and other sources.

I'm prepared to believe there are boards of governors that are far too cosy with the head - when I joined ours there were a few significant people like that. We have changed the situation gradually to be far more effective and to encourage the head to see questioning as our job and not an attack. She runs a ruddy good school so I don't see the point in antagonism - but we do challenge where it is necessary and important. And the head and senior management have responded, we get a lot more data and are far more involved with the school these days.

But cosy relationships won't be stopped by bringing in paid 'expert' governors. God save us all - especially the children - from management consultants running schools. (Management consultants have their place but it is not capturing GBs.)

Experts are useful for governing bodies to consult, to use as appropriate but not to be the GB.

Wigeon Thu 28-Feb-13 20:30:56

Oh goodness, Duchess of Avon - I am really worried I will be posting exactly your post in 2 years (I became a parent governor in Sept 2012):

Local councillor who appears to do nothing apart from physically come to meetings: tick

Head who clearly just wants to run the school without interference from GB - tick

CoG isn't a difficult character, but is very very keen to "maintain good relations" with the chair - ie never challenge or criticise.

Teaching team - no idea how they view GB because frankly it's an irrelevance to them as it's so impotent

I am currently trying to suggest that one area for the school to work on is how it involves parents, and how this might be done (not something you might think was that contentious, and something I am volunteering to coordinate / lead myself), and what you say below is spot on:

"the time and effort required to gather evidence, build a consensus among other Governors, address issues and find support outside of the school is just overwhelming."

Wigeon Thu 28-Feb-13 20:31:39

Is there a Governor support thread anywhere here? If not, may I suggest one? (Or possibly one for secondary and one for primary). Would anyone be interested?

Hassled Thu 28-Feb-13 21:02:18

I've been reading this and not posting because I just don't know what I think.

I was a governor for many years and CoG for 4 years in an outstanding school. It was very, very challenging - I loved it, but I put in hours and hours of my time. Things happened along the way where I felt completely out of my depth - there was a palpable lack of LA support, especially in some HR issues I had to become involved with. The quality of the training was patchy - I went into the first HT Performance Management (having had the training) with very little clue as to what we were hoping to achieve. CV Governors are a real problem (in my case it was actually the parents who were the worst offenders for this) - they became governors because it looked good, but were never prepared to actually become committed, to the extent that they never even had the most basic training and so didn't really understand the role.

I should throw in here that I have met some amazing governors along the way - I'm painting it black, I know. There are some exceptional people involved in governance.

But yes, there is a need for more professionalism and yes, there are some ill-informed governors out there. More effective LA support would help that. I don't think governors should be paid, but I think some perceptions need to shift, so it isn't thought of as a worthy hobby and more as what it is - a challenging, demanding, important role.

Talkinpeace Thu 28-Feb-13 21:17:58

LA support is no longer relevant though : half of all Secondary schools are no longer connected to LEAs

Hassled Thu 28-Feb-13 21:20:49

True, and that worries me enormously. Who guards the guards?

Talkinpeace Thu 28-Feb-13 21:23:27

Michael Gove and his bullying cronies
www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-21601673

With regards to the Chair and the head being in cahoots, we were told that the chair is no longer allowed to do the HT's performance review because the working relationship between them has to be so close. I am not sure if this is an LEA thing or whether it national but it does go some of the way to ensuring that other governors aren't locked out. Hopefully, if the head knows that he or she will have to accountable for what they do, to somebody other than the Chair, they will be forced to be more open with the govering body as a whole. In theory anyway.

It is also interesting that there are CV governors - I don't think you would get away with that round here. If you don't go to meetings or do the training you are removed as a governor - it has happened and we are all warned that if we miss a certain number of meeting, without good reason, we can be out. You have to make some effort or you don't get to stay.

Hassled - hats off to you. You would have to pay me to be chair. I think, from my limited experience, only having been on one GB, that they do an immense amount of work and have a lot of responsibility.

Maybe that is the way to go - chairs should be paid because it is like a part time job and their expertise and experience as governors is very important. They are the glue that holds everything together and if they aren't any good then the GB as a whole won't work.

willesden Fri 01-Mar-13 09:53:38

As a parent governor of 3 years standing, it scares me that there are governors out there who do not have a clue what they are supposed to be doing. This thread proves it. It is a legally accountable position; volunteer or not. A governing body has amazing powers. Get yourselves down for some training courses, pronto.

Yes, it worries me that parent governors don't understand their role - that they are representative of the parents not for the parents. It strikes me as something you need to understand before you even put yourself forward to stand for governor, not something that you should be unsure of when you are already in the post.

PolkadotCircus Fri 01-Mar-13 10:51:08

The thing is the elections are a bit pants.The spiel printed re each candidate had buggar all to with education policies or running a school at our last one so the default option was to vote for who you know/like best.

Not a good reason for anybody to be given such an important role.

Maybe they should make the training compulsory. I served as a parent governor for several years without having done training. I would have liked training but IIRC this was not made easy for me by the timing of it and lack of childcare available (It was a Nursery school and as you might expect I had a 4 year old DS and 6 year old DD at the time)
If anyone has not been able to do training maybe chair or experienced governor should spend half an hour or so with new governors to go over the basics - how to raise issues, what role of governor is, for starters !

BreconBeBuggered Fri 01-Mar-13 11:27:05

It's difficult in some schools to get parent governors at all. I had my arm twisted to put myself forward as a governor and resisted it for some time because as it happened I did know what it entailed, and that it wasn't just showing up for a handful of meetings a year and never thinking about it in between. There have been a few drifters in and out of our GB who have tried it out and backed away pretty rapidly when they discover there's no room for passengers.

Kez100 Fri 01-Mar-13 12:18:27

No. Governors should not be paid despite the millions of unpaid hours they put in (I'm a Vice Chair of a secondary). They should be given a pot of money every year however to recruit experienced clerking services, to pay for any training they want (without having to resort to the school budget) and for access to professional services -like HR or legal. Or, maybe not even a pot of money, but these things provided by the Government on a national basis separate from school budgets and free for Governors to access.

Unpaid Governorship can create rubber stamping Governing bodies, which is regrettable, but it also means that in the more robust bodies that the Governors are more truthful and honest because there is nothing to lose. They can resign to make a point if necessary without 'losing income'. Most people once in receipt of an income learn to rely on it and it can cause a independance issue if conflicts arise.

Sparrowp Fri 01-Mar-13 13:46:02

Comparing this discussion to the role in other spheres is very interesting.

The role of governors sounds similar to the role of a non-executive company director. However in the private sector, this is an important and paid role.

Why do we expect people to do it for free for schools? We all pay for education through our taxes, and if its not up to scratch we will be paying more in every way for the generations of people who do not reach their potential.

Is it because education and children are considered "female" areas, and so don't deserve decent reward for their skilled, important and sometimes difficult work?

Sparrowp Fri 01-Mar-13 13:59:32

Personally, here is my list of priorities:

Keeping a roof over our head
Keeping us warm and properly fed
Keeping us clothed and booted
Interesting educational activities,
sports participation
living in a clean, well-ordered home
saving up for our own, secure, home
etc
etc

If someone was to tell me I should prioritise the governing of the school over those things, I would think they were a do-gooding, lentil weaving, lovely but hopelessly naive unreasonable person.

However if the role contributed to all the priorities above, it would certainly be worth doing and putting a lot of work and effort and skills into, because I strongly value a good, well run school.

Wigeon Fri 01-Mar-13 14:02:18

Sparrowp - I would have thought that the role of non-exec is paid because your contribution results in better financial results for the company, and there is a correlation between how well you perform your role and the profits of the company / salaries of the staff / bonus of the Chief Exec. It would take a very odd person to do that for free.

In education and in the charity sector, your contribution as a governor / charity trustee results in non-financial results like better educational attainment, or whatever the charity's outcomes are. So there is an argument that people might want to do that altruistically and would not necessarily need to be motivated by financial reward.

I really think the question is not "should governors be paid" but "how do we ensure that governors perform as effectively as possible" and payment is only one possible answer to that. Many on this thread have suggested other ways of increasing the performance of governors (better training, more LA support, more focus on ensuring the Chair is excellent and can ensure the rest of the GB is effective etc).

Wigeon Fri 01-Mar-13 14:10:19

Did you know many central government departments have non-executive directors - info on them here. They get £15k a year, although some waive their fee.

yy to Kez

Our budgets were so tight it was really hard to justify spending any cash on clerking services and training. I did manage to get some money ringfenced in my second year but when I looked into the services that we could buy from the LA, the quality was shocking for the cost. Its very hard to go out and procure clerking or HR or Finance support independently when you are a tiddly primary.

Our CoG didn't performance manage the Head but she did stitch up all access to her - and would overrule any discussion I did manage to have independantly with the Head. I don't blame the HEad to be honest - I think she was just trying to keep the CoG off her own back but it got to the stage where I could no longer trust the SLT in the school to view me objectively as a parent should any issues arise with my own kids. I had no choice but to step down.

Its a catch 22 for parent governors - they have a lot at stake compared to the others and once the Chinese walls are breached there is no way back.

It takes skill to challenge the school in a constructive and supportive fashion coupled with good content knowledge. It took me a good year to get my head round the finances and performance data. That's where Governors need support.

catinhat Fri 01-Mar-13 14:49:21

As a governor who has received over 5 e-mails this week in advance of three meetings next week, I would quite enjoyed being paid. We also struggle to get governors; our school is small, not posh and doesn't have lots of know-it all parents desperate to get involved. We need a financial chair and - though we have accountant parents - they are so busy with work and family that they can't commit. I manage to put the time in because I have my own business that gives me some flexibility.

However, I have an awful suspicion that paying governors might end up with schools being run by 'fat cats' as opposed to people based in the community.

I think it's a shame Michael Wilshaw criticises governors. Gove did it 6 months ago; he stated that many governors only did it because they were self-important types.

I do wonder whether governing bodies could be smaller or shared between schools. If they were smaller, meetings might be shorter even if more frequent.

catinhat Fri 01-Mar-13 14:51:57

kez100 - your reaons for un-paid governors are good.

Our clerk is paid. That is important because they put in hours of time doing administation.

Pendeen Fri 01-Mar-13 15:13:07

I worked for a short time for our county council as a short term contract architect, designing and managing extension and alteration projects and I met many governors, attended their meetings etc.

I have to say I was surprised at the naivety of some governors and the arrogance of others when it came to but always encouraged and impressed by the enthusiasm and dedication of most.

The worst kind were those who, having watched a couple of episodes of 'Grand Designs' or the like were absolutely convinced they were suddenly experts in all aspects of architecture and building! Quite wrong IMO when these people are in charge of hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money.

There were a few headteachers like that as well, ignoring essential guidance l because they knew best what was needed (and had done a bit od DIY)!

The academies program will only make this sort of thing far worse.

noseynoonoo Fri 01-Mar-13 15:49:06

If being paid made the system of appointment more accountable, I'd be all for it. The governors at my school come from an ever-decreasing grouping, many of whom have been appointed by the Head. I see leadership from neither the Head nor his appointees.

I think Gove was spot on about the 'self-important' types. I can pretty much see the motivation of each appointee at our school - and it's not the advancement of the school.

Kez100 Fri 01-Mar-13 17:08:36

Anyone knocking Governors should try being one. It's amazing when you actually see people in meetings, how you are likely tomight view them differently. Most Governors have some sort of interest in the school or they probably wouldn't have even thought of being a Governor of that school. Then making a direct assumption that is why they do it is completely unreasonable.

It is true some people do join for theirr own self-interest but, in my experience, they don't stay a Governor for very long when they realise the work involved and the lack of return (tangible or intangible).

Talkinpeace Fri 01-Mar-13 17:12:10

School Governors
Parish Councillors
Charity Trustees

all unpaid, unskilled volunteers : long may it continue.
The difference is that Parish Council Clerks are encouraged to complete professional qualifications
As are charity officers
so what is actually needed is better pay for Professional Clerks to Governors
then you still get the variety of parental and local input, but with better Governance

Completely agree OP. I've been a parent governor for five years now. Not only is it my son's school, but it is my old primary and that of my brothers so I love the school and enjoy having the opportunity to give something back.

My son leaves in September so I'm desperately trying to find a way I can stay on, maybe as a community governor. Schools need governors who are passionate about the education and welfare of the pupils, not in it for their own gains!

Wingdingdong Fri 01-Mar-13 23:09:35

"Most Governors have some sort of interest in the school or they probably wouldn't have even thought of being a Governor of that school."

I'm a LA governor of a primary. I didn't ask for any school in particular, though I did say I'd prefer one on my side of the borough. I've been a governor for a few years, I didn't have children, I wasn't brought up in this area and I had no connection with the school.

I volunteered. I volunteered because I felt I'd been lucky, I'd had plenty of opportunities, I needed to put something back into society and - being perfectly honest - I read a newspaper article on volunteering and the role of school governor seemed the best fit for my own abilities/qualifications. I'd like to think I volunteered for perfectly altruistic reasons, but I do believe in karma... And as it happens, I got allocated the school at the end of my road, and I now have a 3.7yo who'll (hopefully) be starting there in September, so I'm glad that I have always kept a close eye on the long-term interests of the school!

If it was a paid role, no, I wouldn't do it. I'd find something else to volunteer for.

Re training - if the LA didn't hold all of its training sessions between 4 and 6pm half an hour away from here, it might be rather easier for those of us with very young children (and amongst primary school governors, that's a majority) to actually attend sessions. I have a 1yo and a 3yo and no parents/PILs living nearby for on-tap babysitting. DH works in the City, I could possibly get babysitters during the day or later in the evening - but at tea/bath/bedtime? No way. And that's the upside of being a volunteer as opposed to paid - you can turn around and say that it's not convenient, what are they going to do to make it convenient? (When I became a governor, sessions were 2-4 and 7-9pm...)

Re training: our governor training sessions are the same as the above poster, thus making it difficult for some governors ti access. Our LA are now offering online training which our school have subscribed to. It make training so much more convenient.

annh Sat 02-Mar-13 10:00:24

Am quite shocked at the varied training provision which seems to exist between different LAs. At our school, the two initial Governor training courses and a course on Finance in schools are mandatory, I assumed that was the case for all Governing Bodies but maybe it is just our school who asks for that? We are also encouraged to go on whatever training courses we can possibly manage, attend Hot Topics sessions etc. There is an expectation that you will do at least some training each year.

Our LA also offers a wide range of courses and each course is offered in a couple of locations and at different times. A course will typically be offered in an evening session from 7 p.m. and daytime from 10a.m. There are usually 3/4 locations, at least one of which will be close to me. I can quite see that if ALL training is offered 4-6 p.m. it makes it very difficult both for people working and for parents at home with children to access it.

Elibean Sat 02-Mar-13 11:27:47

I thought the National Training was mandatory, too?

All our Govs have done it, and most of our Govs (bar one of the LA ones who rarely shows up these days) do regular trainings of all sorts, and are up to date on all the recommended ones. Admittedly, our Borough provides great training, but even so - I am responsible for Gov training, and I nag grin

Yes, we are pretty hot on training here too. We also the choice of several different venues and times of day for the most popular and/or compulsory courses. The LA is split into 3 areas so they tend to run the same course in each area. If you can't go to your own you can travel to another or just wait a term and it will come round again.

We are encouraged to do as much training as possible, have full GB training sessions and access to on-line training too. We want our money's worth as we get the full training package so we can go on whatever we want without having to ask if it is OK and arrange payment and it is apparently cheaper than paying for each course individually.

I agree that there seems to be a big difference in the way LA deal with their governors. I was reading something yesterday about becoming a clerk and some LA send their clerks on BTEC courses to get accredited. Some just do their own training which isn't so good. I am sure that the differences are apparent right across the GB. Aren't LA's inspected, maybe even by Ofsted? I am pretty sure they are and that our LA was rated as good. You can see why there is a disparity if there aren't national standards and requirements.

Erm, not sure I should admit this, but after five years I've only ever completed stage one of the introductory training sessions for governors - so one training session at the LA! And one held by the school on safeguarding - which is mandatory. This is due to the sessions being awkward to access for people with no transport. To get more people on the training sessions it would be good if they were organised so that all governors had to attend so many each year. That way there would probably be somebody to travel with.

I've always found it weird that as a parent governor with no qualifications or much experience in education, that I wasn't make to take part in more training to start with (although since becoming a governor I've trained to be a teacher).

Hopefully, online training will take off, especially since one of the issues we have now is that the LEA has all but collapsed thanks to government funding cuts.

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