School governer - what does it involve?(20 Posts)
Does anybody have any experience of being a school parent governer?
Thinking of applying for a vacant position at my childrens school but would like to know from someone what the position actually involves.
I posted a thread in chat...yesterday! Wondering the same. Couple of useful replies
As much as you want it to I think. There will be a set number of meetings per year, and then you might want to go and observe the odd lesson, although that's done in a pretty controlled way so governors aren't flitting in and out. Then you have to show up at Open Evenings to talk to parents. Turn up at concerts etc.
On top of that, it depends on the set up how much there is to actually do. Some people seem to do a lot of extra stuff, others just attend the meetings.
However once you become a governor it turns out that a lot of things you thought you might be getting involved with/have a say in aren't actually in the governors' remit.
Have a look at some of the websites on the suject.
County specific but generally applicable ....
Governor's role is to be a 'critical friend ' to the head, to consider the strategic direction for the school and to ensure accountability. It is not to do with the day to day management of the school as this is the headteacher's responsibility.
The school should make a copy of minutes of previous meetings available if you ask to see them -this will give you an idea of what meeetings cover. You could also ask if there is an existing governor you could talk to to get an idea of what goes on - ask the school office or contact whoever sent the letter out about the vacancy.
There should be training available for new governors and you will need to be prepared to do this if you want to be an effective governor.
It is very interesting and you learn an enormous amount about how schools work but it is not something to be taken on if you are not prepared to fully commit to it.
Totally agree with all the Dajen says. It's really interesting but takes a lot more time than I'd really anticipated. In our school you attend the termly meetings & committee meetings, but also have link responsibility for a year group or a curriculum area, and keep an eye on how things are done. The thing I found odd/difficult initially was the number of parents who would list their minor gripes and expect me to have the power to do something OR who imagined that I'd tell them all the school secrets (which I don't actually know)!
It's really worth doing if you have the time
It can also be a bit stressful....although that depends on the circumstances the school is in at the time.
Depending on which committee you are on, you can have a part in appointing new staff, shortlisting applications and observing sample lessons/sitting in on the interview process.
I've also known governors who have signed loan agreements to refit a school roof.
And when the headteacher of my child's school was arrested and then prosecuted for fraud, the governors there had to spend a LOT of time in high level meetings for the disciplinary process, along with the stress of not being able to talk to anyone about it as it was confidential. Yet at the same time, lots of the parents at school who didn't appreciate that were trying to engage in conversation about it.
That's a bit of an extreme example, to be fair. Cases like that are few and far between.
I've posted this before and er, here it is again:-
Being a Governor varies slightly from school to school. The main thing is time and commitment. You should think of the Governor meetings as meetings that you must attend and arrange your social/work life around them. You should attend the training sessions that your Local Authority provides.
School Governors are the biggest volunteer organisation in the UK. We estimate that it takes up about 35hrs per year although, of course, it depends on how involved you want to be.
Governors deal with Budgets, Policies, Targets and things which are 'a step away' from the 'day to day' running of the school.
Any question like 'My child doesn't ... isn't ... can't ...' is not for a Governors meeting. Sometimes one can get involved with sacking/redundancies and discipline matters.
School Governors do not run the school; they are there to take an overview and see that it delivers.
Some useful sites: ukgovernors and Governor Line and Being a school Governor
I enjoy it and I've learnt a lot. I like being involved with the school and making a contribution - watching and learning how others deal with and solve problems. I have gained in self confidence and speaking up in meetings.
Im sure you can Google being a school governor yourself but:-
The Role of a School Governor
1 To Provide a Strategic View
2 To Act as a Critical Friend
3 To Ensure Accountability
I did 12 years as a parent governor and was involved in a wide variety of things - I was on the performance and standards committee and our role was to monitor and evaluate the curriculum and results etc, we had a rough overview of how each subject was taught and the resources required etc. We were the committee that asked the questions regarding targets and results - ie if a target was missed we asked why etc.
I was also on the head teacher's performance review committee - with the assistance of an external assessor I and a couple of other governors would set and review objectives for the headteacher.
We had meetings with a selection of children occasionally asking questions such as "do you feel safe at school?" or "how do you know when you've produced a good piece of work?"
Several governors were often present at parents' evening available to chat or to canvas opinion if there was something the school wanted to gauge parental opinion on etc.
I was the attendance governor as well, i met with the administrative assistant each term to review attendance levels and would send letters to parents of children with levels of attendance that were cause for concern.
I attended lots of training courses that were both interesting and useful.
I was also involved in staff interviews - I was available during the day and had done the safe recruitment training.
I found it really rewarding.
35hrs a year. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Well, for our school anyway
SizzleSazz well, I did say about 35 hrs
Do you think thats too much or too little?
Joins in the hollow laughter at 35 hrs a year. Earlier ths year I spent well over 20 hrs a month for three months on governor work. Having said that, I love it, it's really interesting and engaging. Mich more to it than turning up at meetings and concerts and talking to parents.
OK I am going to sound cynical but here goes.... I spent 4 yrs as a school parent governor and found that if you were a teacher, or worked a 'useful' profession like law, finance or HR and could provide the school with advice that they would otherwise have to pay for, then you could make a useful contribution. Otherwise, if you were someone who has never worked in education or the public sector, it is a ticking the box exercise and hard to really understand what you are doing, even with the training. This is just my experience (at a primary school) and I am sure there are others who will report differently. I found most of the meetings quite bewildering and completely at odds with my own, private sector, small business expertise.
Dh has spent about 35hrs in the last month on governer stuff........
All of the above, plus, in the event the HT resigns, recruiting a new one. Jolly interesting stuff.
A governor vacancy has arisen at the local school, I now have another DC there so am considering putting myself forward again - I enjoyed the 12 years I did before and
in a kind of masochistic way I miss the involvement.
Fuzzymum1 - go for it, schools need good Governors who get involved.
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