Governors and Teachers...do you talk to each other much??!!(15 Posts)
I became a Parent Governor relatively recently and have been surprised at how little communication there is allowed to be between staff and Governors. I'm increasingly getting the impression that the Head Teacher manages his staff by fear and intimidation and the staff literally seem afraid to speak their minds to him. I noticed that the staff seem quite non-communicative with the Governors too, particularly the staff governors who literally sit in Governing Body meetings and say absolutely nothing at all, ever!. But one of the other Governors (a parent Governor) e-mailed a teacher to her school e-mail address (nothing related to school business, it was a jokey thing that followed on from a short conversation they'd had in the playground) but it was intercepted by the Head (possibly he intercepts all staff e-mails?) and the Governor has been told that it is forbidden for Governors to e-mail staff. The only reason given was that staff could feel intimidated by having to communicate with Governors!!!!??? My question really is...is that normal?? Do other schools have greater communication between staff and Governors? Or is a sort of "them and us" thing imposed by the Head teacher going on everywhere?
This doesn't sound normal at all. I've just finished as a governor after doing 6 and a half years and I always had a good working relationship with the staff - how else can you get anything done?
JellyBelly, It sounds absolutely normal in all the schools I've ever worked. I can only speak from my own experience, of course. The situation you describe could very well have been my last school. I'm glad that you, as a Governor, have realised the game some Heads are playing. By the way, I'm not sure that the Head has any right to tell Governors what to do - in theory, the Governors are employing the Head, not the other way round.
This sounds like a terrible HeadTeacher. You are probably quite right that he is ruling by fear and intimidation.
But the million dollar question is what can you do about it? If the head teacher is bad but not terrible enough to fire, I have found as a governor there was absolutely nothing I could do.
I think it's different in primary and secondary schools. Could be the sheer size or that parents in general have less contact with secondary schools. I'm a Governor at My DCs comp and there is a very good relationship with the middle and senior leaders but I always feel the rest of the staff are alittle wary of governors. No idea why.
inthe sticks, In my experience, Heads deliberately try to keep "ordinary" staff away from Governors. I've actually been on both sides of the divide. Heads will stand in staff meetings and say "The Governors have said that..." or "The Governors won't agree...". Meanwhile, the same Heads will report in staff meetings that the staff want this or that. I have also known a Head who blamed staff for his own shortcomings. It's in the Head's best interests to maintain that there is a certain amount of mystique about Governors. I've done presentations to Governors, having been told to stress the positive and hide shortcomings. It's considered OK to blame the government for too much paperwork, not enough funding, etc. but it certainly isn't considered to state an opinion that the Head or SLT are inadequate, creating much of the paperwork or spending money inefficiently. If there were genuine 360 degree appraisal of Heads, Governors might have a better idea of what's going on in schools.
I supply teach and the sign of a good school is the Head, Staff and Governors all pulling together and being friendly-it does happen.
Jelly, I was a governor for 10 years. The last head was bad and i found governor services very useful. They have a website and you can phone them for instant advice.
Sounds like you also need to join the National Governors' Association - www.nga.org.uk
Sounds terrible and not at all like our primary school. Governors on the curriculum committee do lesson observations at least once a year, governors interview faculty leaders about plans for the year annually as well, governors and staff all meet informally in small committees...Etc. Good advice about contacting governor services/National Governors' Association.
You should get yourself on some Gov Training to give yourself the confidence to start asking some pertinent questions.
Look at the OFSTED criteria for how the BoG would be assessed by them. You need to demonstrate that you have good, open channels of communication with pupils, parents and staff (all staff - not just teachers). It sounds like you BoG might not do very well and you could point out that this needs addressing.
Jelly, have you tried talking to your chair of governors about your concerns? I'm a chair and would expect any governors who had these type of worries to come and talk to me initially. In my school, there are good links between staff and governors particularly where joint responsibility is held for an area of the school development plan.
My OH has just finished being a parent governor at our dds primary school. They had a system where a governor was linked to a particular teacher to look at different subjects.
He was linked with the teachers responsible for IT and music and developed a good relationship with them.
OFSTED do look at how involved governors are with the school and do expect them to have some links with the teachers. However this does depend very much on whether the Head and the teachers have agreed to this beforehand. Perhaps you need to find out from the LEA what other schools in your area do about this. then you could raise this matter at a governors meeting.
Hope this helps
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