School Governors - what's your time commitment? (Long self-indulgent gripe)

(29 Posts)
hardtostayfocused Tue 14-Jan-14 12:29:13

I'm a parent Governor at a primary school. Last Feb Ofsted decided that it Requires Improvement and it was considered Satisfactory for the 2 inspections. School has been on the super highway through Stress City for the last couple of years. I just wanted a reality check about the amount of time Governors put in.

As well as the full Governing body meetings (once sometimes twice each term) we have an additional FGB meeting each term which is for "self-evaluation". These FGB meetings always start at inconvenient times (OK, inconvenient for parents, convenient for teachers) between 5.30 and 6.30. They sometimes last 3 or more hours.

We also have 4 sub-committees and all Govs are on at least one (I'm on two) and all committees meet at least once a term, some twice in some terms. These meetings are usually in the day. Therefore it quite oftens happens that there can be long Governors' meetings once a week for 5 or more weeks running. (They often bunch into one half-term.)

There is almost inevitably a plethora of supporting documentation for each meeting, including table after table of comparative data. One meeting last year had over 200 pages of material added to the email. I didn't read most of it.

All Governors have an area of interest (Link Governors, e.g. for Literacy or SEN) and as of last term all Govs also have a link class. Each Governor is supposed to make contact, ideally through a school visit, at least once each term for both their Link subject and their link class.

Governors are invited, and at least some expected to show up to:
termly parents' meetings; nativity/harvest/leavers' assemblies; school fairs; other ad hoc events.

Some Governors, including me, have on occasion, also volunteered in school, e.g. one-to-one reading.

I was recently at a meeting where it was suggested that Govs should do separate written link reports for their subjects and for their classes. i.e. two reports termly, as well as the visits and the meetings and the reading round the subject and the cheerleading.

For this voluntary job.

The joke is, although I'm a parent Gov, my DC actually left the school a while ago - I'm just seeing out my 4 year term. God knows I love the school and I think it's fantastic (well, I think it's outstanding in many areas, and like any other school, requires improvement in others) but I just want it to get through the next OFSTED so I can resign! (or be sacked if it still requires improvement)

I just wondered - if anyone's still with me at the end of this post - whether the amount of work we do is absolutely barmy!?

Rowgtfc72 Fri 17-Jan-14 23:33:30

I too was lured in with the promise of one meeting per term. Alas, never the case.

lougle Fri 17-Jan-14 23:44:37

hardtostayfocused 15 items, no supporting documents (although previously circulated documents referred to), comprehensive verbal report from HT.

Why do you need such incredibly detailed documents? Is it all necessary or is there some re-invention of the wheel going on?

We have documents circulated between FGBs as they arise, so for instance if the Head Teacher has been working on Self-Assessment documents, then they get circulated as they're completed for our perusal, and comments are welcomed by email either to the clerk to Governors or to the HT herself.

Also, some issues are dealt with by smaller groups. So, for instance, rather than the whole Governing Body having to plough through the Service Level Agreements, the HT asked for 2 governors to go through them with her and make decisions, which was agreed by the Governing body, then the results of that meeting were reported to the Governing body.

That sort of thing makes it much less arduous.

Also, we changed things slightly when we realised that lots of stuff that was discussed at FGB was also discussed in committee meetings. So we slim-lined that to make sure that the FGBs weren't just a rehash of the committees, etc.

nennypops Sat 18-Jan-14 11:10:21

We have one FGB meeting a term. We revamped the committees to reduce them from three to two, and people only sit on one committee unless they're mad masochists; committees meet usually twice a term. Discussions that need a lot of examination of data etc are usually delegated to committees. Occasionally we have something extra, e.g. we're about to have a day when governors are invited into school for the day to shadow teachers, but it's not compulsory, and we're invited to concerts etc but again it's totally voluntary. Each of us is 'attached' to a particular area, e.g. humanities, inclusion, etc, and are expected to meet with the teacher in charge of that area once a term and produce a brief report - but there's usually two of us per area so we can share the load. Occasionally we set up a specific sub-committee to deal with a particular issue, e.g. when there was a major building project.

I used to have a long-running gripe about sub committee meetings starting at 4.30 purely for the convenience of teachers and the then Chair of Governors, but fortunately common sense now prevails and they start later.

lougle Sat 18-Jan-14 12:12:26

Why are you wading through vast documents of data??

Even if you had a list of subjects, the overall NC breakdown of attainment by year group, or even by class, etc., I can't see that being more than 3-4 pages.

For example, our HT produced last term a spreadsheet which detailed (anonymised) data for each of the pupils in the school, compared with their previous levels, the gain, then the quartile of progress. She had colour coded the progress for each pupil to demonstrate whether their progress was of concern, adequate, good or very good, etc. So we were able to review the data and form judgements from it - she had already analysed it.

It's not the Governors' job to get down with the nitty gritty of individual pupil's attainment. That's the job of the teaching staff. The Governors are there to take a broad overview and assess trends in attainment and whether they cause concern.

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