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To ask for tips on being a successful Parent Governor?

(32 Posts)
buffersandbumpers Mon 09-Dec-13 20:41:22

Oldest DC started school in Sep. I have been elected as a Parent Governor (from a cast of one) and just wanted to see if there are any top tips on how to be remotely good from fellow Mumsnetters. I have no experience of schools/education other than my own (20years ago so things have changed!). This is probably in the wrong place on here but couldn't find anywhere else... Thank you in advance smile

peppersquint Mon 09-Dec-13 20:58:26

Sorry OP but only advice I have is resign

Parents resent you.
Teachers resent you
You are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Anything you say will be ignored or sneered at.

Been thre and hated it

float62 Mon 09-Dec-13 21:04:53

I was going to say DON'T!! but you already have so rather than giving no advice I'd advise learning up on the 'Roles and Responsibilities' of a SCHOOL governor which has nothing to do with being a parent. And remember, if it impacts negatively on your life you can always RESIGN. Other than that,
Good Luck.

purple15 Mon 09-Dec-13 21:08:48

Wow, being a governor doesn't sound very nice. I didn't realise it would be like that.

breatheslowly Mon 09-Dec-13 21:12:06

I've been a community governor and the parent governors do have a more challenging role but are essential to the governing body. Use your links with other parents and experiences in the playground to feed back on the feelings of the parents. However you need to be clear on the limits of your role - you aren't a go between for the parents, where necessary you need to suggest that parents see the HT as the HT actually runs the school. You will also come across confidential information - I would hope that it goes without saying, but treat that appropriately including watching what you say in front of your DC.

It certainly wasn't my experience that parent governors were ignored or sneered at. Parental input is essential in the success of a school and the other governors and staff would be foolish to ignore that.

meboo Mon 09-Dec-13 21:21:48

Question everything!!!
Do not automatically agree with others
Go on the courses that should be offered so that you can understand your role better.
Speak Up
Enjoy it
Don't take it personally

Get out before the ship goes down, preferably ahead of the head teacher!

JanePurdy Mon 09-Dec-13 21:24:55

blimey. You & me OP. First meeting in January hmm

Lilacroses Mon 09-Dec-13 21:30:29

Just for balance, we have parent govs at our school who have been at it for about 10 years (as their various children move through the school). They do an amazing job and seem very happy. I think we work well together. I think some of the roles (for example chairperson) can be very demanding though.

mamadoc Mon 09-Dec-13 21:32:03

I haven't found it awful at all.

Do all the training courses you can to start off with as it is very hard to understand education jargon without it. I have a senior job in my own field but I have found it challenging to get to grips with everything you need to know to make a real contribution.

It is quite a time commitment with committee meetings and school visits as well as full governors meetings. You have to be prepared to prioritise it.

You are not there as a parent rep. The kind of issues you can get involved in are strategic not day to day eg you will be monitoring results data and looking at policies but you won't have any say in who is teaching which class. You can reflect back things you hear from parents in a general sense eg about how articulate subject is taught or views on homework but you should not be getting involved in individual disputes.

I have enjoyed finding out about a new area and getting an in depth understanding of how the school runs, why decisions are made as they are. I have found that it is good to be a bit naive about education as you can have a fresh perspective and it forces people to explain themselves clearly. You do need to be comfortable speaking up in meetings to be effective.

goshhhhhh Mon 09-Dec-13 21:32:43

I am & enjoy it & feel like I make a difference.

Speak up in meetings even if you don't understand yet. Ask questions - be supportive & questioning.

Find a way to be conscious of the whole picture - not just what happens to your child. E.g. what happens for gifted, sen, middle of field. Listen to other parents but don't be influenced by them. Get involved & volunteer.

Know why you are there!

goshhhhhh Mon 09-Dec-13 21:34:20

Oh & be aware of the data (& different sources of it) & look for trends. It helps you be objective & ask (slightly) informed questions.

DontCallMeBaby Mon 09-Dec-13 21:34:21

It doesn't have to be bad, honest! I'm a community governor now, a year and a term in after four years as a parent governor, finance vice chair to a chair who's been doing it for fourteen years, he's LA now but was parent governor before. Two different heads, brilliant staff, no sneering.

Ask questions. Speak up if you're comfortable with it, don't if you're not - but don't leave anything unsaid or you'll wish you said it. Do the training. Don't put yourself down. It can take a LONG time to feel remotely useful. Don't bring issues unannounced to meetings unless they're insanely urgent. Don't bring other people's issues - there are ways for them to complain to the school, and approaching an individual governor is NOT one of them. Get to the meetings, send your apologies if you can't make it. Be organised with your paperwork (I'm not).

justmyview Mon 09-Dec-13 21:35:03

Be polite, reasonable, fair and not big headed or self-important. Show appreciation for anyone who helps you. That goes a long way.

QueNoelle Mon 09-Dec-13 21:36:19

Making place add I'm in the same position.

goshhhhhh Mon 09-Dec-13 21:36:45

Oh & be aware of the data (& different sources of it) & look for trends. It helps you be objective & ask (slightly) informed questions.

QueNoelle Mon 09-Dec-13 21:36:59


Rufustherednosedreindeer Mon 09-Dec-13 21:39:20

I really enjoyed it, it does make a difference whether it's a good one or not!

I would echo the others, go on all the courses available and don't worry about asking questions.

We had a great relationship with the head and teachers, were not resented by anybody ( at least no one who had the guts to tell me grin) and I feel we helped the school

I would also echo whoever said you are not a parent rep, sometimes new governors get a bit confused with that part and think they are a go between, they aren't!

You are there to support and challenge

Have fun!

WorraLiberty Mon 09-Dec-13 21:39:53

I've been a parent governor for over 6 years (Chair of govs now) and I love it OP.

In all that time I've never known a parent or teacher to resent us and I can't think why they would? confused

My advice is to take as much training as you can and ask as many questions as you can think of during meetings.

Don't be afraid to stop other governors and ask them to explain what they're talking about if you don't understand.

Remember, even those who have been governors for donkey's years, don't know everything because education moves at such a fast pace.

But above all, enjoy it.

float62 Mon 09-Dec-13 21:41:30

as breathesslowly says "parent governors do have a more challenging role". Yep, but you aren't supposed to be a conduit for the views from the playground, you're a Guvnor like all the rest of them irrespective of title and you adhere to the same rules. Big Rule - if it's confidential and not publicized in the easily available Minutes it's Part B, so until you know for sure everything is "Part B". I think the fact that there were no other contenders and your eldest is just about to start at the school speaks volumes. But you've done it now, so read up, get smart and crack on. Don't be afraid, they'll patronize you as a newbie I'm sure, but hold your own (because you've read up and know how it's supposed to be done, but don't let on at first, let them drone and spout). I speak as a fully experienced (and qualified) Clerk to School Governors.

sittingbythefairylights Mon 09-Dec-13 21:42:07

I am a parent governor and really enjoy it. We've been through an awful Ofsted, and have seen the school pull through. I get on well with the teachers, and the parents - don't think I've ever had a negative comment!

Go on the initial training course if they run one in your area. Don't worry about just listening during the first couple of meetings, but ask questions if you have any.

It's always good to hear a new view in a meeting.

BohemianGirl Mon 09-Dec-13 21:43:12

Oh God. You will be taken to the cleaners. Manipulated by the Head. Good Luck

Hassled Mon 09-Dec-13 21:44:47

Just don't work to your own agenda. Don't only challenge the things that affect your kids. You'd be surprised how often you see this happen.

And yes - get trained, ask questions (no question is ever too stupid), challenge, ask "why?". Read the paperwork before the meetings.

And enjoy it - you'll learn a lot smile.

WorraLiberty Mon 09-Dec-13 21:46:13

BohemianGirl you do realise that every single Head in the land is a totally different person to the next? grin

I'm sorry a few people have had bad experiences but I'm surprised some people are talking as though the OP is guaranteed to have one also.

Not necessarily the case at all.

There are good/bad heads and good/bad governors everywhere.

CheckpointCharlie Mon 09-Dec-13 21:46:53

I really like all our parent governors, they are enthusiastic and interested and I have built up a great relationship with the governors who are responsible for my subjects.

Good luck, be open and friendly with the teacher and I am sure they will reciprocate. No experience as a parent governor but my DH was one for four years and enjoyed it. He did get a bit overwhelmed by the length of the meetings and the endless procrastinating. grin When he chaired the meetings they were always much quicker!

WorraLiberty Mon 09-Dec-13 21:49:06

OP you might find this link helpful. There's an online forum part too.

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