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Any Chair of Governors out there?

(11 Posts)
20thCenturyTortoise Mon 09-May-16 18:44:58

I've been asked if I'll consider it. Ours is stepping down, as is our vice-chair, more from having had their turn and have other commitments in their lives. I'm a parent governor of about 3 years.

We've just recruited a new head to start in Sept and are under pressure after a second disappointing Ofsted.

Also suspect we'll need to consider academisation sooner rather than later.

Specific questions: I know the workload can be higher (it's a good team so will be able to share out link roles), are the specific tasks and responsibilities that much higher?

And, if you're also a parent governor, how has it been working alongside teaching staff?

Any other advice?

20thCenturyTortoise Mon 09-May-16 19:38:07

Ought to mention, it's at a large primary.

neolara Mon 09-May-16 23:29:28

Yes, much more work. I see role of chair as establishing conditions to enable others to perform their role effectively. So lots of co-ordination of stuff, leading thinking about structures and systems, leading on getting the right people, supporting new governors etc. Most chairs will meet regularly with the head. You'll also have additional responsibilities eg agenda setting, handling complaints etc.

It's very interesting. I haven't had any particular issues working along staff.

DanFmDorking Tue 10-May-16 12:22:46

Agree with the above.

1. Contact the Governance team at your local authority and
a) get yourself on the appropriate training sessions.
b) ask for a ‘mentor’, a Chair at another school who you can ring and speak to about problems, procedures, the best way to …, any questions etc.

2. Get professional clerking.

3. And, if you're also a parent governor, how has it been working alongside teaching staff?
It should make no difference, although you may want to think about a) Having your partner speak to/deal with the teachers at parent evenings and b) Telling the Head that if a teacher might feel a bit awkward about dealing with your naughty child then the Head should deal with it.

4. It can involve a lot of work. You may wish to drop or cut back some of your other commitments, particularly at the beginning.

5. Don’t be afraid to delegate.

6. Don’t be afraid to say ‘I’m new, I want to do a good job’.

7. Have a look at this site, basic membership is free.

Good luck

20thCenturyTortoise Tue 10-May-16 16:34:37

That's really helpful, thanks both of you. I've just emailed to ask to be put forward at the next FGB meeting.

I'll definitely see about training and the idea of a mentor is a good one. Our chair and vice chair are staying on as normal governors so they'll still be a great help. We've got a good clerk too.

We've just had a governance review so definitely something to get going with and actually the head teacher recruitment was really useful in focussing what we need as a school, I'm quite excited about her starting.

That website looks very useful, are either of you signed up to the key website or NGA?

20thCenturyTortoise Tue 10-May-16 17:41:20

Oh well, blown the name change.

bojorojo Mon 16-May-16 00:21:26

I think it is unfair that the Chair and Vice are stepping down. What happened to succession planning? You are being dumped on! I would be worried that your knowledge is a little sketchy to do this role in challenging circumstances and, if the former Chsir and VC were so good, how come the second Ofsted was disappointing? Maybe their influence and experience is not so useful.

I am also worried that you did not know what the strategic goals should be until the recruitment process started for the new Head. What were you doing for the last 3 years? Did you look at any data and act on it? All schools need to know their weaknesses and draw up a school development plan to address them. They must monitor the implementation of the plan. Governors should have a 5 year strategic plan. They should also demonstrate that they are qualified to do the role and hold the Head to account. How does your GB hold the Head to account? Why did the GB not know that Ofsted would not be impressed? What info/data was the school giving you? How robust was it? What will you expect from the new Head?

I am slightly worried for you. This role is not just about meeting the Head and more admin. It is way more detailed than that. I think you may be leading a whole GB that needs training, not just you. Good luck.

20thCenturyTortoise Mon 16-May-16 09:12:01

Some fair points there. We're going to have the chair of another school helping us with a few things so I might talk it over with him.

bojorojo Mon 16-May-16 20:56:45

I hope I did not come across as over pessimistic! Just realistic I hope. I think you need to meet with the new Head and the mentor Chair of Governors to go over all your data and find out where the problems are. Our Learning Trust (not LA anymore) gives Headteachers a template to include the information in their report that governors need to do the job. This includes a lot of pupil progress data and analysis of the data. You will have to rely on the Head to monitor the quality of teaching and be honest about it! Quite often a new Head arriving can be unsettling for staff and can lead to turnover. However it is important that poor teaching, if it exists, is tackled.

Make sure the chair you are talking to does understand your school. Make sure other governors train too. It is not just you that needs to learn.

admission Mon 16-May-16 21:41:46

There are all sorts of potential issues that you will need to deal with over the next 12 to 18 months. Sorry this may well come across as a bit negative but you need to be aware so that you can deal with them effectively.

I agree with the poster who said you have been let down by the previous chair and vice chair. They should have had some proper process in place for continuity. My concern is that you say that they will still be on the GB and will be a great help. I think they could be a hindrance and be busy leading from the back seat. I think you need to accept that you may need to stamp your authority on being the Chair, if they interfere too much.

Your best two allies are potentially the new head teacher and the person who carried out your governance review. You need to get to having a productive relationship with the new head teacher as soon as possible. They will probably want to have a period of time in school assessing the situation before they start to do anything different. I would look to set up a time span for this with their agreement so you both know that there will be a period of apparent inactivity whilst they get to grips with the politics etc in side the school. As chair i meet my head teacher every 2 weeks for 60 minutes. We do not make any decisions it is an opportunity to let the head teacher say how things are going, say anything they want to say about issues in the school and generally allow you to build a relationship between the two of you. I cannot emphasise too much how important the relationship is between head and chair.

I would expect to loose at least a couple of staff over the first 12 months of a new head teacher as they introduce new ways of working. The fact that you are RI says that the loss will be greater if teaching is not that great.

Also be prepared for the new head saying that things are far worse that has been suggested by the RI ofsted report, that frequently happens when a new head comes in and sees the detail. How good is your standards in the school and do the Gb really know what the standards are where they are going to.

I hope that the governance review was carried out by someone who is a National Leader of Governance (NLG) and knows what they were doing. You need to talk with them at length about what they found and more importantly what they think needs to happen to improve the GB and the school. There probably will also be somebody who is helping the new head so they are also somebody that you need to get to know and tap up to see what they think is wrong in the school.

I am going to guess that you Governing Body has just been going through the motions in terms of trying to improve the school's situation. You probably need to consider how you will operate meetings in future. They need to become positive but also challenging to the head teacher and you need as a GB to be asking questions. That brings up the subject of clerking. Who is doing the clerking? Can you on the minutes of all meetings see impact, see questions and answers being given with clear decisions and actions being taken. If not then you are not running the meeting right and probably you have the wrong clerk in place.

I would invest in membership of NGA, as it keeps you and the Gb up todate on what is happening. Personally, as a chair of governors, I do not like the Key but I know many head teachers find it very useful, so they may want to invest in it. I would be asking as a new chair for an NLG to act as your mentor and adviser, that should be free and is another person on the end of a telephone line for advice. As an NLG I have regular contact with about 6 chairs of governors who are at different stages in terms of their experience.

Bottom line, go for it and be bold. You will have some bumpy times but the feeling of having achieved something, especially when you get a good ofsted report, is worth it. You need to concentrate on school improvement not going looking to become an academy, so that should be 12 months plus down the line, unless somebody from the regional schools commissioner comes calling in which case you will not have any choice in the matter.

If you want to talk privately please PM me

20thCenturyTortoise Wed 18-May-16 17:30:31

Thank you both, not pessimistic or negative, realistic is very helpful.

Yes, the person who did the review is NLG, I'll definitely be getting in touch (if it is me that becomes chair), and looking at training and mentoring.

Think you're right that there could be big changes over the next year out so but that's kind of what we need. Think I'll be in for a bit learning curve but can at least get into school a fair bit so working with the new head should be very do-able. My will is there, just need to get my head round it all a bit.

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