What sort of person makes a good/suitable parent governor ?

(28 Posts)
whoknowsyou Fri 05-Jul-13 12:00:59

Vacancy coming up at school and I'm considering standing but I know there will be competition as there are parents who have already thrown their hat in the ring and are badgering other parents to support them in due course when it comes to voting.

I'm getting the impression that the Head has postponed the closing date for applications twice, with a new letter sent home each time asking us to get in touch if we wish to discuss applying for the vacancy, because they or the other governors are not keen on the people who have applied already and want a wider choice of candidates.

Would I be any use......

What makes a good parent governor ? Someone with an agenda that they want to work through ? Someone who can see the big picture ? Someone with more of an eye for detail ?

What do people think of their own schools' parent governors ?

Thoughts welcome please.

lljkk Netherlands Fri 05-Jul-13 12:09:45

Getting along with the bullies that already dominate?

(Sorry, nasty impression of local board)

Rooble Switzerland Fri 05-Jul-13 12:14:21

Someone who is able to give plenty of time; someone who is able to be objective; someone who is able to be supportive to the head teacher whilst also having the backbone to challenge any questionable decisions. Having your own agenda is NOT a useful tool, nor is being a cronie. You also need a reasonable head for information as the governors are increasingly required to fully understand school data....

FadedSapphire Fri 05-Jul-13 13:36:55

Hope they are not holding out for a lap dog if keep moving goal posts re applications.
Seems odd.

HappyMummyOfOne Fri 05-Jul-13 19:46:53

I doubt the date has changed as they dont like the applicants, they have to accept them unless there is an extremely valid reason as to why not.

You need to have a good amount of time to devote, have a head for paperwork, be prepared to look at the big picture and not have your own agenda or want whats best for your own child etc.

Most schools tend to have a mixed panel, some are very heavily involved and do great things whist some do the bare minimum. Better to have a willing hands on governor ready to learn than one who does it just for their own agenda or the title.

tumbletumble Fri 05-Jul-13 19:52:25

A background in finance, personnel, law or teaching would be especially useful.

DebsMorgan Fri 05-Jul-13 19:53:46

Definitely you need to have a lot of time to give, both for meetings but also to carry out school visits and to be prepared to be 'visible' at school events as much as possible.
It is a very interesting and rewarding thing to do as far as I am concerned, I am a teacher by profession as well though so I do have a good insight into the workings of a school from the point of view of those doing the daily grind.

Happypiglet Fri 05-Jul-13 19:57:24

As everyone else has said time is the biggest factor.
Being good with data is a plus but not everyone has to be an expert in that in the GB.
Having your own agenda is a big NO NO.
You need to be able to see what is best for the whole school not your own child/ren...although these things will usually marry up
Being able to go on training
Being able to ask awkward and challenging questions.
Having some sort of skill to offer - IT, finance, data, marketing, personnel....and I would say a background in teaching is not especially helpful... its maybe best to be clueless so you ask all the right 'dumb' questions.

Happypiglet Fri 05-Jul-13 19:58:20

Oh and being a people person is not a bad place to start!!

poweredbytoast Fri 05-Jul-13 20:00:50

I was recently appointed as parent governor. I think I was voted in because I know loads of people as I have three children there and spend an awful lot of time gassing in the playground after school. I applied because I wanted to be a voice for the parents: lots of people have very valid opinions which don't get to be heard by the governing body because they aren't pushy. It doesn't take a lot of time, tbh, minimum one meeting per term. I will go in and join in with my allotted year group if I can manage some time off but it isn't mandatory. I've heard a lot of negatives about governing bodies on MN but I guess a lot of it boils down to what the head and the other governors are like: our head is lovely and the rest are a pretty decent bunch.

piprabbit Fri 05-Jul-13 20:01:28

Be able to commit time.
To take the available training.
Be able to communicate effectively with staff and other governors.
No interest in gossip.

DebsMorgan Fri 05-Jul-13 20:04:33

I have definitely found there have been times when my teaching background have helped me to both challenge and understand items our governing body have come across. It certainly hasn't hindered me at all.

One thing I would say is that you may well find that other parents treat you slightly differently if you become a parent governor, not all but some. I found that quite interesting to start with.

DebsMorgan Fri 05-Jul-13 20:07:49

poweredbytoast, wow you only have one meeting per term? is that a mega meeting? Our Full governing body meetings tend to be three hours or just under and happen half termly and the committees meet every half term too, albeit for an hour and a half so slightly easier on time.

As others have said time.

For example this last 4 weeks I have had 2 committee meeting from 6.30pm to 9.30pm and have another one next week. I also need to do a Health and safety inspection before last full governor meeting. So will be best part of a morning.

Have spent in day in school for Ofsted.

Have done a learning walk through the school one morning

And of September we will be link into area of the curriculum to have a closer link to school. As well as needed to redo my training as I haven't done it for a couple years.

Rowgtfc72 Fri 05-Jul-13 21:39:47

Watching with interest as I have just been to my first parent governor meeting.

mamadoc Fri 05-Jul-13 21:45:08

People think it is a sort of 'parents rep' but its not.

They think I have a say in who is in what class, which teacher teaches a particular class or how to deal with a playground discipline issue but I don't at all. These are operational matters for the headteacher.

A governor has a strategic role in the overall direction eg I do have input into the policies, the school development plan, I have interviewed new appointments.

I think people who want to influence day to day matters will be disappointed.

Skills like accountancy, health and safety, legal or HR would be very useful. That said I have none of those but I am governor for child protection and SEN and I have skills that help me to do that effectively plus I am confident to speak up in meetings and have experience of managing services which can be applied although I knew nothing about education when I started.

I have really enjoyed the challenge of finding out about a new area. If you think you have something to offer and you are motivated to apply then go for it!

TinaSurrey Fri 05-Jul-13 22:35:37

Ditto what Lljkk said at the top of the page.

MaisyMoo123 Fri 05-Jul-13 22:47:06

I echo what others have said but I think it's also important to be really dedicated to the school and to have a real desire to want to work at a strategic level to help promote it and help it succeed. A good governing body has a range of different skills I think - last time we had a vacancy we actively suggested skill areas that would be useful and that was successful in that by being specific we attracted people and made them realise that they would be genuinely useful.

I love being a governor - yes it's time consuming and that's an important consideration but I find it so rewarding and the challenges it gives me really fulfilling.

lougle Fri 05-Jul-13 22:57:25

Parent Governors are not 'the Governor for the parents' - they are not there to speak for or on behalf of parents. Neither are they there to raise complaints on their behalf.

Parent Governors are just one type of Governor. The actual role is the same regardless of whether your designation is Parent/Community/Local Authority/Staff Governor.

Governors are there to hold the school to account (make sure they are doing what they say they will do, as they say they will do it), make sure they are fit for purpose through robust policies and procedures and make sure the school is progressing towards its overall goals.

We aren't operational. That means that we shouldn't be parading through the school, demanding that the HT moves staff from one area to another, or suggesting that we print the newsletter on purple paper, etc. It's a role of strategy.

As a Governor I help in a class once per week, I help in various events through the year, I go to the parents' coffee morning once per fortnight, I am on the SMSC (Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural) working party, I'm the PMLD link Governor (we're a special school), I'm just about to take on Training Liason, I interview prospective staff if needed, etc.

It's a very interesting role.

HappyMummyOfOne Sat 06-Jul-13 10:14:10

Poweredbytoast, one full governing body a term is the absolute minimum to be attended but a lot of governors do much much more so it is very time consuming for those that take on the full role.

We have a couple that just do the termly meeting but that means all the other jobs, committees etc are just busier for the others.

lljkk Netherlands Sat 06-Jul-13 10:45:13

Only 3 of our governors are remotely "visible". (more cynicism) 2 of them have the reputations as the worst bullies.

DebsMorgan Sat 06-Jul-13 16:02:44

Bullies to who? who do they bully? teachers? the head?

Our whole governing body are visible, at events and also within school.

lougle Sat 06-Jul-13 18:10:02

It's nice to have a mix of interests/abilities and time availability.

We have some Governors who are experts in their area of knowledge and help us greatly with budget management, but because they are full-time workers they are very rarely available for day-time events.

We have other Governors who are more available in the day time.

starterforeight Sat 06-Jul-13 18:44:11

What chance for a candidate who took her dc out of school for a day trip to a theme park ? Suitable parent governor material ? Should they set an example by adhering to school rules re absence ?

Shootingstar79 Sat 06-Jul-13 18:50:04

Powered toast , you may be disappointed. You are not there to be a representative for parents/to make their voice. If you try that the chair will have o put a stop to it. You are a governor who happens to be a parent. In the same way a staff governor is not there to represent the needs of the staff but is merely a governor who is a member of staff.

As others have said, it is a strategic role, not operational - that is for the head to lead on. You will have to direct the playground moaners to the head and certainly have no place bringing p their concerns at meetings! You van actually engage with the playground gossips a lot less than before because of confidentiality issues and the face that you are a governor.

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