School Governors

(35 Posts)
Tw1nkle Thu 17-Jul-14 18:06:48

Hi, I've recently become a school parent governor at my daughters school.
It has been suggested that I spend a lot of time in the school.....at least a day a week, and also, all the 'committee' meetings are in the day too.
I work 5 days a week, so will find this difficult!
Is this normal?
Any advice appreciated!
I'm happy to help in the school when I can, and attend evening meetings.

TheEnchantedForest Thu 17-Jul-14 18:19:35

Did they not explain the commitment to you before you put your name up for election?

the role of the governor has changed considerably over the last few years and is now a massive commitment. We have had governors stand down because they couldn't keep up the meetings, reading etc. We now go through this is some detail before candidates stand.

our governors would find it hard to know everything expected of them if they didn't spend time in school, that being said, one day a week does sound a lot.
How often are the daytime committee meetings? Some employers do allow paid time off for these.

I don't know how parents who work find the time tbh. It has become a part time job in itself...with no pay!

the rewards can be great though...enjoy!

lougle Thu 17-Jul-14 18:20:01

If meetings are held in the day, that's when you need to be available. If you can't be available when the meetings are held, that should have stopped you putting yourself up for election.

I don't think that a day per week should be necessary, but as above, if that is expected then really you should have found that out prior to applying and decided whether you were willing to do that.

As for whether it's normal - I don't know. I'm a governor at two schools. One holds meetings at 7pm or 4.30pm and the other holds meetings at 4.30pm/5.30 pm.

Don't forget that evening meetings mean that the HT has to do their full day at work then make themselves available for an evening meeting in their own time.

FanSpamTastic Thu 17-Jul-14 18:21:12

I am a school governor. All of our meetings are in the evenings, though we have talked if having some at 8 am.

You are encouraged to visit school but there is no set requirement. We have governors day once a year where all the governors come into school for the day.

tumbletumble Thu 17-Jul-14 18:27:18

I'm a governor. Our full governing body meetings are at 7pm, and the committees meet whenever is convenient for most members of that committee. I'm on the finance committee which meets at 8am and the curriculum committee which meets at 3.30pm (because this is a convenient time for the teachers, and we often ask one or other of them to attend). Each year there are 6 full GB meetings, 6 finance committee meetings and 3 curriculum committee meetings.

We are encouraged to come into school as often as possible (some workplaces allow you to do this without having to make up the time, if they have a commitment to allowing their employees to support schools / charities), but a day a week is ridiculous! IME once a term would be well above average.

bakingtins Thu 17-Jul-14 18:29:25

My DH is chair of governors at our local primary. He does sometimes have to attend meetings during the day, e.g. Today he was on the interview panel for a new role, but nothing like a day a week. He shows his face at most school events, parents evenings etc. All the governing body meeting and committees are in the evening as most of the governors work.
Agree this should have been made clear before you stood for election, and they are basically ruling out anyone who is in full time employment. DH's company allow him to be flexible and attend meetings at school in company time, if he said that was one day per week I imagine they would cease to be accommodating!

Tw1nkle Thu 17-Jul-14 18:35:32

hhhmmm.....thanks everyone.
I'm happy to attend meetings in the evening, and also the odd day.
I'm a childminder, so if I don't work, I don't get paid!
I'll have to see how it goes, but the daytime meetings were not made known to be until now!

Heels99 Thu 17-Jul-14 18:38:59

Such a big commitment, I would on,y do it if I worked very part time

cansu Thu 17-Jul-14 18:50:48

That is ridiculous and also seems designed to put off ordinary working parents. Being a governor should not be a hobby for those who don't work.

GoblinLittleOwl Thu 17-Jul-14 19:20:45

How perfectly splendid that Bakingtins husband feels he is competent to be Chairman of Governors by simply showing his face at school functions and the occasional day time meeting. Perish the thought that he should spend time observing the working day and actually learning how schools function. How terribly Michael Gove; who needs to know anything about education to make decisions?
I was fortunate in working with three Chairmen of Governors who were all female, who all spent a considerable amount of time in school during the working day, and who all worked. They weren't simply looking for something to write on their CV.

fatowl Thu 17-Jul-14 19:52:18

I'm a Governor
Full Council meetings are held in the evening as most members work full time.
Some Sub-committees meet during the day, but it depends on the members.

You should have been told when the meetings were. I'm surprised they can find a balanced, qualified council who can all meet during the daytime

sunnyrosegarden Thu 17-Jul-14 20:43:24

Our full meetings are at 5pm, every half term. Committee meetings are at 4pm or 5pm.

I work part time, but have to find childcare, so it can be a juggle. I tend to pop in on free afternoons to do other stuff and generally help out.

It is a big time commitment, but not a day a week.

lougle Thu 17-Jul-14 20:48:30

Did you not have an opportunity to speak to a governor or the clerk to governors about the role before you applied?

flowery Thu 17-Jul-14 20:49:28

Our committee and full meetings are all at 7pm, half termly each. It's late for the HT and staff to stay but myself and a lot of the governors simply wouldn't be able to do it otherwise.

I do a lot of extras as well, but as I work for myself I can arrange things so that I can pop in to school for a meeting during the day if I need to. No way could I or any of our governors commit to a full day a week in school though, that's ridiculous, and also surely a bit intrusive for the school if all the governors are there one full day a week?!

Bunbaker Thu 17-Jul-14 20:56:16

That's a massive commitment. I am a governor and all our meetings are in the evening. I'm amazed that the school wants daytime meetings because that precludes any full time professional people from being governors.

Why do they need you in school one day a week? I only visit the school for specific reasons during the day - arranged learning walks or H & S audits. Our governing body has a mixture of parents, local authority, staff members and co-opted governors most of whom either work or have other daytime commitments.

I know ofsted are looking more closely at school governance, but it is the quality not the quantity that is relevant.

bakingtins Thu 17-Jul-14 21:40:50

goblin DH has been a community governor for 9 years, chair for 5, re-elected by the rest of the GB. The GB were praised by OFSTED at the last inspection. He gives up hours and hours of his own time. I checked - his company allow him 3 days a year of 'work' time to spend in school. Today he worked from home and went in for an hour for the interviews and then an hour this evening for the yr6 show. I think if he just wanted a tick on his CV he'd have given up long ago hmm

AmberTheCat Thu 17-Jul-14 22:49:11

A day a week is ridiculous. What do they want you to do during that time?

We have full governing body meetings three times a year at 6.30pm, and committee meetings three times a year at 8.45 am. The committee meeting times are negotiated with the members of each committee, to maximise the number of people who can attend. Governors are also encouraged to come into school when they can to sit in on lessons, talk to staff, etc - some manage that a couple of times a term, some maybe once a year.

It's not necessary, imo, for a governor to know all the minutiae of the school. We're there to ask intelligent questions, challenge and support.

Bunbaker Thu 17-Jul-14 22:51:59

"It's not necessary, imo, for a governor to know all the minutiae of the school"

Exactly. A governor's role isn't concerned with the operational running of the school. It is strategic.

admission Thu 17-Jul-14 23:03:17

Time for a reality check here. The governing body is there to be responsible for three main things. Firstly to set the ethos, vision and strategic direction of the school, secondly to support and challenge the senior leadership team of the school in equal measures and thirdly to ensure that the finances are OK.
OK there are grey areas but spending a day a week in the school is simply not appropriate or necessary to carry the functions that are their responsibility. The reality is that one day a week says that you are straying into operational matters that are the responsibility of the head teacher. As governors you appoint the head teacher to do a job and you should allow them to get on and do it with suitable reporting back to the governing body.
I am also somewhat amazed by the comments about the head teacher having to stay behind after a full days work to attend GB meetings. Sorry what do you think the people who work and are on the GB doing - exactly the same. Meetings should be set up for the convenience of the majority and that can be at 0800, 1200 or 1900 or any other time that seems sensible.
OP my suspicion is that you are being used as unpaid Teaching Assistants and the time has come to say, no I am not doing that.

RaisinBoys Thu 17-Jul-14 23:07:59

Tw1nkle firstly, well done for standing! So many wouldn't.

It's a huge commitment and often a thankless task but can be incredibly rewarding.

A day a week is ludicrous and unnecessary...our head would be appalled if governors took up residence for 20% of the school week. You are in a strategic role, not operational. Your brief is to support and robustly challenge to maintain/improve standards and ensure that your school's children have the best education possible.

Good luck!

BackforGood Thu 17-Jul-14 23:35:04

It does seem a bit daft to agree to stand for something without knowing what the commitment is.

That said, I've never, ever heard of a Governor spending a day a week in school.
The 'norm' IME is to hold meetings around tea-time ish - remember it's still part of the working day of the HT, the Teaching member and the staff member, but equally, people in many jobs find it easier to leave work a bit early, than to take the whole morning / afternoon off.
Meetings tend to only be 1 - 2 a term, and then it depends how many sub committees you are on.

It would help enormously if a considerable number of the Governing Body understood the challenges schools face, and keep up to date with legislation, etc., but I can't see how they can really expect anyone to commit to a day a week!

NynaevesSister Fri 18-Jul-14 07:34:16

Our GB has a mix of half evening and half morning meetings. Nearly all the GB work full time. We have one member who is retired. Most of the rest also have young families. They all put in a lot of work and we have an outstanding Ofsted rating. But none of is put in a whole day a week! And all committee meetings are evening.

We go on walks around the school, we look at pupils books and work, we go to pupil progress meetings.

NynaevesSister Fri 18-Jul-14 07:35:17

By walks around the school I mean we look specifically at learning not just a wander down the corridor.

DeWee Fri 18-Jul-14 09:33:38

One day a week is a ridiculous commitment.
One of the previous chairs used to meet with the head once a week for an hour (or more if there was something specific) but that isn't a must.

Not checking you can attend the meetings was your mistake though. Dh was a governor at one school-the meetings were almost always evening. He's now at a different school where the meetings are 8-10am. He checked that sort of thing before applying.

As chair dh would attend all full board meetings, various training things, and over the course of the year a lot of more informal meetings with the staff (daytime usually) , including evaluations, interviews etc. It's not a small commitment.

Iggly Fri 18-Jul-14 10:26:39

Are you sure it isn't a visit once a term?

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