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Is anyone a governor at their DC's school?

(17 Posts)
Vajazzler Sun 19-Jun-11 07:39:11

Our school has 3 vacancies for governors and i have submitted an application. However, i'm not sure exactly what the role entails.
Anyone care to share their experiences?

RustyBear Sun 19-Jun-11 08:01:47

I'm not a governor, but I'm Clerk to the Governors at the junior school I work at, so I know a bit about it.

It can vary a bit from school to school, but you should have meetings of the full governing body at least once a term - we have five a year. You need to be able to get to the majority of meetings, if not all of them.

At our school, all the governors are on at least one committee, which has termly meetings, some more often, eg the Finance Committee. How many committees they have and how often they meet will depend on your FGB's constitution & how many functions they delegate.

At our school our Chair is very keen on trying to get the Governors involved with the school, and each Governor has a responsibility for a year group or for a subject area (Maths, Literacy or one of the three Creative Curriculum areas) and are encouraged to visit the teacher at least once a term and if possible spend some time in the classroom helping (by arrangement with the head and teacher, they don't just walk in)

Every governor in our Borough gets induction training (though this may depend on whether your school pays the council for Governor services; they used to be free, but now they are just one more thing that schools have to find money for) You should also get a CD with a Guide to the Law for Governors, which is very useful in finding out what the FGB can or can't do.

There used to be a Government website for school Governors, but they have now cut it, though if you google Governornet you can see the archived site and there are links to some independent sites.

The minutes of Governors' meetings are public documents, so you should be able to have a look at them (they are supposed to be kept at school for at least 6 years before being archived) which may give you an idea of the kind of things they do.

pooka Sun 19-Jun-11 08:02:26

I am - a relatively new parent governor.

Just finished my first set of training - induction for new governors. Which was eye opening because the role is more involved and important than I had initially expected.

Fundamental role is to act as a "critical friend" to the head. To be strategic - to shape and influence the direction of the school and it's improvement. You don't get involved in decisions about the daily running or the school - staffing decisions, individual pupil performance, lessons and management.

Sample issues we discussed at last meeting:

- governors evaluation of school improvement plan implementation over last year
- the new head
- possible development proposals
- slight change to school closing time
- the new safeguarding policy: did we approve its adoption?
- how to involve parents in the formulation of next years school improvement plan
- new arrangements for entry to reception in September.

I'm finding it really interesting, but what I've realised is that it takes some time to understand all the issues involved and to make a difference. At the governor training we had lots of info about the perfect governing body, and what makes a great school in terms of policies and plans and so on. I can't work out whether we're performing well yet because I haven't had sight of ALL policies and plans and the other governors are more experienced (some with decades of experience) than I am.

I am enjoying it though - but it is quite tricky negotiating what one would like to happen in terms of making your OWN children's time at school better with regards to their individual issues and interests against what the school needs as a whole. Obviously I'm interested in what might effect them, but that's not the point and not what a governor is there for.

pooka Sun 19-Jun-11 08:09:53

We have one full meeting a month and one curriculum and one resources meeting a month. I haven't yet been coopted onto the sub committees so have only been attending the full meeting - though have visited the other committees to get an idea of what goes on.

We also have a maths/literacy/pe/SEN governor and a governor is assigned to each year group and visits maybe once a term as a governor (though most visit more often as parents or just to help with reading, sports day or sen).

I am enjoying it - and we've got an interesting year coming up with a new head and ofsted looming. Also extra bulge class too. The budget issues are worrying and I did find myself fulminating at home on how bloody ridiculous it is to be cutting funding to schools and we're also going to have to negotiate the academy issue (not keen but can't rule it out - depends what happens financially). I've started reading the TES to get an idea of the issues.

Elibean Sun 19-Jun-11 11:17:06

I am, since last October. I chose to be on two committees (am not working, have more time than some) - Personnel and Curriculum/Policy. As a result, and mostly because we've had a change of Head, are expanding, and had lots of staff to recruit, its been busy!
One full body meeting per half-term, one CP meeting per term minimum, one Personnel per half-term (but lots more during recruitment process).
I've sat in on interviews, meetings, taken part in Head/Governor surgeries, and generally supported school events - though I did the last bit anyway, as a parent.
I've done the National training day, plus a Safeguading training, so far.
Its really really interesting, and not everyone is as involved or busy as I am - it does depend on your availability and willingness to be involved - and the trainings and support available in our borough are very good.
We're also lucky, in that all the Govs seem to get on well with each other and the school staff, including the Snr Leadership team/Head - we go out for meals together, meetings are usually enjoyable.
Thoroughly recommend it!

Vajazzler Sun 19-Jun-11 16:03:26

Wow it seems I have much to learn about the role! Thanks for a little insight into the job. I hope i get voted ingrin

Elibean Sun 19-Jun-11 16:51:31

Good luck smile

DanFmDorking Sun 19-Jun-11 20:01:51

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.

Two useful sites: ukgovernors and Governor Line.

I’m sure you can Google ‘being a school governor’ yourself but:-

Being a Governor can be extremely rewarding and interesting but for most people there is a steep learning curve before they feel that they are doing something worthwhile. As the Governing Body operates at a mainly strategic level there is a fair amount of paperwork that comes our way that at times can seem daunting.

The Role of a School Governor

1 To Provide a Strategic View
2 To Act as a “Critical Friend”
3 To Ensure Accountability

Good Luck

HappyMummyOfOne Sun 19-Jun-11 20:12:39

Its rewarding if you are prepared to put the work in and can be flexible for meetings.

You may have to make decisions etc on things that will affect your child but have to look at them from a whole school point of view and not as a parent.

mercibucket Sun 19-Jun-11 20:15:55

if your school is doing well, it might be an easy job but if your school is struggling or if there are problems, it can be very difficult. I would wonder why there were 3 vacancies all at the same time - is there a reason or have a lot of people resigned? It's certainly rewarding but also 'challenging'

Vajazzler Sun 19-Jun-11 21:15:17

Thanks DanFmDorking some interesting links there! I'm not sure why we suddenly have 3 vacancies.... The head is leaving at the end of term but I'm unaware of any issues there may be to make 3 people quit.

DanFmDorking Sun 19-Jun-11 21:24:26

I wouldn't be too bothered about the 'sudden 3 vacancies', that happened to us recently. One person left in Sept. and the other two left during Nov. and Dec. and we just left it until January to do the elections.

DanFmDorking Sun 19-Jun-11 21:43:19

pooka Is this correct?
... one full meeting a month and one curriculum and one resources meeting a month ...
Per month?

pooka Sun 19-Jun-11 22:05:11

Have just checked schedule and actually full meetings every 6/7 weeks max.

Less this month because AGM with parents. And had to shoehorn an extra one in in May for budget.

Curriculum and resources about every 6/7 weeks too. So a meeting every 2 weeks, but governors only go to 2 out of 3 if they're on only one of curriculum or resources.

They're short and sweet though - tight agendas and quite businesslike. Not much longer than an hour and a half, max.

Is interesting how different governing bodies have different set-ups. It will be interesting to see how things might change next term, with probable new Chair and Vice Chair, and new headteacher as well.

DanFmDorking Sun 19-Jun-11 22:19:35

Is interesting how different governing bodies have different set-ups ...
Yes, indeed, our ‘Full Board’ and Committee meetings are Termly with an extra Full Board meeting per year to discuss ‘Finance and the future’. The result, of course, is that out meetings last over 2 hours.

wannaBe Sun 19-Jun-11 22:34:31

I am chair of governors at my ds' school.

The amount of input really does vary on A the school an B your ability to commit. We have six fgb meetings a year plus personnel/curicullum/sight/finance meetings as well and because we are a community school with a surestart centre attached we have steering group meetings as well which some of the governors sit on.

Sometimes you will be involved in decisions that are difficult such as whether to make staff redundant, for instance.

Sometimes you will have parents come and complain to you or expect you to give them the low-down on the goings-on within the school purely because you're a governor and you will have to maintain confidentiality.

Some parent governors are governors purely so they can find out what goes on within and have no real interest in contributing. This is not a good reason to become a governor - you have to look past your own child and to the whole school, even if your child is essentially your motivation for being a governor in the first place.

I am standing down as chair at the end of this term as we are moving, but it has been a very rewarding process during which I have been involved in:

recruiting a head teacher
recruiting several other members of staff.
the setting up of, recruiting staff for, involvement in the buidling of a surestart centre attached to the school
oming through ofsted during which our school went from satisfactory to good, and the governing body went from unsatisfactory to good.

I do not take the credit for any of that, I am merely a part of the governing body and they all played a part in those processes, but I like to hope that I at least helped that by leading them.


Ihavenoclue Mon 20-Jun-11 17:53:47

There are usually 3 full meetings per term. Then you join other committees and attend their meetings. Attending the basic 3 in my view is not enough to get to know anything about a school. There is lots of training to be undertaken and you can put in as much or as little time as you wish. However to be affective involves time. The first year you are always playing catch up. The second year is easier and by about the 3rd I felt I was up to par. I attend about 11 varying committee meetings per year, 3 to 4 other meetings, @ 3 training sessions, 1 to 2 Inset days( or half ones)
I have 2 link subjects to update, plus SEN, and @ 2 to 3 interviews per year. There are also school trips, induction days, events, to attend when possible. Training can sometimes be done online to suit. You also need to arrange with the Head when it is appropriate to be in class with a specific aim.
If I don't know how something works I need to find out in order to see if we are conforming to the legal requirements and also doing doing it well.
It is rewarding and I am still learning and updating my knowledge. Just as you learn it they do to love to change all the acronyms though.
You do need to put in a decent amount of time to be effective.

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