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New parent governor filling out negative remarks about school, on OFSTED questionnaire???

(19 Posts)
HopingForTheBest Mon 03-Oct-11 14:49:58

Hello, I am a parent governor, I was just selected few months ago and just cleared with CRB so I only became a fully fledged parent governor recently. So far haven't got any experience.
Now Ofsted visit is due within days and all parents were given a questionnaire by the school, to be forwarded to Ofsted, about how satisfied the parents are with the school. So I am filling it too, anonymously.
Problem is, I have been going on and on for the last two years, about my dissatisfaction with certain things in the school (that's why I wanted to be the governor in the first place, to change things), and the head teacher, his deputy, the teachers, SEN coordinator all school staff etc, all know my opinions and the questionnaire I am filling does not draw a rosy picture of the school so the contents will definitely be raised by the Ofsted with the head teacher and of course, this will also be brought into the governors meeting when I attend next time. Then i am 100 percent sure that everyone will know that form was from me.

The headmaster is new in this post ( only 2 years) and he means well I suppose, he is really trying to do things his way but everything moving slowly. I am trying to establish a good working relationship with him. And to get to know him.
I am thinking, I am right in filling the form the way i feel is right but on the other hand, i also feel it's like a bit of betrayal.
Tell me i am being silly and I should write with my own exact words on that form and if headmaster knows (he will) it's from me, than it should not be a problem.

sparkle12mar08 Mon 03-Oct-11 15:08:12

It shouldn't be a problem, but you can bet your bottom dollar it will be. And it would be the right thing to do to speak to him privately before the meeting to say that you will be filling in the form honestly in your role as a parent. He's bound to be annoyed. Just be sure in your own mind that you are not using this as an opportunity to force through your own 'agenda' for want of a better word.

crazymum53 Mon 03-Oct-11 15:35:47

OFSTED does not expect school governors to agree with the Head all the time, they expect them to act as a "critical friend" and to challenge the leadership when needed.
Your views as a parent are perfectly valid as they reflect your experience of the school. However if you are interviewed as a governor it may be better to focus on the improvements the new Head has made rather than pointing out what you think is still wrong with the school.
The chances are that the new Head is moving the school in the right direction and making improvements - quite often the OFSTED inspection helps the school by identifying the priority areas that need most attention, particularly in leadership and teaching.
Your comments as a parent may assist OFSTED but they will be looking for evidence to support your views by observing lessons, looking through school records etc.

MoreBeta Mon 03-Oct-11 15:45:36

Are you sure all parents were given a questionnaire? Surely not all parents will give positive comments and neither should you feel you have to say positive things to spare the Head's blushes.

I only ask the question as one school (not doing well at all) I know very well selected key parents to give the questionnaire to who they knew would only give positive comments.

You have to fill it in honestly. That is why you became a Governeor. You can say what is wrong. You can say what is good. You can say what is improving.

It is your job to do so.

HerdOfTinyElephants Mon 03-Oct-11 15:48:25

All parents have to be given a questionnaire, I believe.

Surely some other parents agree with you, OP? If OFSTED gets several forms all making the same points then that will be something they will mention and it will be clear to your fellow governors that they can't all be your form.

caughtinanet Mon 03-Oct-11 15:58:13

I am a parent governor and at the last OFSTED inspection the governing body weren't told the replies to the parent questionnaires. Are you sure the head will be shown the replies? Unless your circumstances are very unique or the school is very small I'm not sure the reply by one parent will be identifiable.

I would fill it in honestly and let OFSTED decide if your complaints are justified. If you have aleady raised them with the head and he hasn't done anything to address them with you then its only right that they are discussed.

StillSquiffy Mon 03-Oct-11 16:04:58

You only have three choices

1) Write nice things and potentially sabotage your own attempts to get change happening.
2) Write nasty things and potentially sabotage your relationship with the head
3) Don't send questionnaire back at all, and sabotage your own morals.

Simple as that, really. Option 1 not really possible, I imagine, so it's either 2 or 3. The long game is to do whatever achieves your aim of actually improving things - painting it like it is, straight off, or building the relationship first and then changing things?

seeker Mon 03-Oct-11 16:05:55

All parents have to be given a questionnaire. If you know this has not happened, then you must tell OFSTED. But I bet they have- surely no board of governors would be stupid enough to risk not doing. After all, it's the parents with issues who are going to ask here thir questionnaires are.

seeker Mon 03-Oct-11 16:13:34

And in answer to the op,you should fill in your questionnaire as a parent, but talk to OFSTED with a collective governor hat on- the
Chair will probably give youa steer.

itisnearlysummer Mon 03-Oct-11 16:30:37

The teachers will probably be hoping these issues are raised too.

If you think it's difficult to raise these concerns as a parent governor, when your role is that of critical friend, imagine how much harder it is for the staff who fear coming across as critical of the management - and to OFSTED of all people!

Agree, complete the form as a parent, because that's what you are first and foremost, conduct any interview that occurs as a governor, if that is the capacity in which they are speaking to you.

madwomanintheattic Mon 03-Oct-11 17:02:17

agree with others. the parent questionnaire is completed as a parent.

any input to ofsted as a governor, you speak as a governor. (usually a couple of governors are invited in to be interviewed on one of the assessment days)

it's difficult to give specific advice as we have no clue what your issues with the school are. grin but presumably the governing body are aware of potential areas of parental concern and have plans/ have discussed mitigating factors/ future work to alleviate concerns. i'd be ready with those as a governor tbh. no-one has to believe everything is rosy (not your job at all), but you do have to understand the intricacies of each situation and be able to discuss objectively how the governing body/ school are intending to address.

JWIM Mon 03-Oct-11 17:54:47

All parents should be given the questionnaire but not all may return it. The questionnaires will be reviewed by one of the Inspection team. Ofsted is aware that all schools have a % of unhappy parents and will expect that to be reflected in the returned forms. If OP's concerns are shared by many parents and this means there is a high % of negative comments (say 20% or over) then it may influence the enquiries made by the Inspection team (on day two of the Inspection). If OP is a 'lone voice' then it is unlikely that Ofsted will focus on the points raised.

The completed questionnaires are not shown to staff or Governors - just a broad summary of % of responses to each question. There will be a summary table for the questionnaire results with the final report.

HopingForTheBest Mon 03-Oct-11 18:01:39

Thank you all very much for the replies. I will not be interviewed as a governor, I know that. One of the senior governors who's been on the job for ages, will be representing the governors' side smile
Yes, you are all making sensible suggestions, and yes, it is hard to give specific advice without knowing much about the specific issues I have been raising for ages.
I am going to fill the questionnaire and will give some comments, that are exact to the point. To balance out negativities, I am going to highlight few things at the same time, in a positive light. I belive it is the right balance and is totally fair to everyone. After all, my replies will be genuine, so I feel fine about it now.
I had lost my perspective for a while and you helped me put it right. I have a better judgement now. Thank you all...

Urbanvoltaire Mon 03-Oct-11 18:08:56

There was a governor (she was a TA, not sure if she was a parent or a staff governor btw) at my DD's school who had her 3 kids in the school and due to her own reasons had them moved to the next nearest school as she didnt like they way they were being educated. Work that one out!

LemonMousse Tue 04-Oct-11 15:54:23

All of our parents were given the questionnaire - but less than half returned them.

The summary table showed that only 1 person 'strongly disagreed' with alot of the statements (but of course we can only speculate as to which parent this was wink).

Seriously though - the Head will have no access to your questionnaire (sealed envelope) you should give your views as you see them. You will know when you read the summary how many people share your view.

HopingForTheBest Tue 04-Oct-11 18:03:04

Thanks again Urbanvoltaire and LemoMousse.
I am going to fill out as objectively as I can.

crazymum53 Wed 05-Oct-11 15:40:14

As a governor you should receive a copy of the School Development Plan (sometimes called school improvement plan) which outlines the management priorities for improving the school and often includes a time-scale and budget for the priority areas. This should give you an idea of whether (or not) your concerns are currently being recognised. Having said that OFSTED are very thorough and if there are serious issues that are not being addressed - they will find them!

HopingForTheBest Wed 05-Oct-11 18:39:12

Thanks again crazymum53. That's a creative idea too.

I will not be able to log onto MN for a few days now, and hope all works out fine by then.

I appreciate all your replies.

madwomanintheattic Thu 06-Oct-11 16:14:01

also sometimes called 'school excellence plan' (in that sort of school grin)

hope it all goes well!

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