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Becoming a parent governor... Thoughts?

(21 Posts)
Topsy1980 Mon 10-Apr-17 13:32:26

Hi,
I'm wondering what others' thoughts/experiences are on being a parent governor? My DD is in reception and my DS will be starting the nursery in September and the parent governor role has come up. I'm a primary teacher so I know a bit about the role from the other side. I'm really interested in education so keen to do it but it's the time commitment concerns me. I work FT and my partner also works FT late shifts so he is of the opinion that I'd be taking on too much. And I'd be relying on family to babysit so I could attend the half termly meetings which are 6-8pm. I get where he is coming from but I would really like to get involved...
Need some others' opinions please.
Thank you x

2014newme Mon 10-Apr-17 13:33:49

I'd be concerned about the workload as well as a ft job and two kids.

akkakk Mon 10-Apr-17 13:38:17

governor roles are increasingly taking more time as there is a focus on responsibility etc. - if you don't have time to go through all the policy documents once a year / to attend meetings / do your prep / spend time in school / etc. then perhaps it might be a bit too much at this stage?

governors are now inspected as well as schools / staff and need to be able to perform well and really know the school - having been a governor for 15+ years across a very wide range of schools I think you need to commit the minimum of c. 12 days a year to the role - it is not just about evening meetings...

however there is a lot of value from having knowledgeable / competent people as governors so I am sure you would be very valuable to the school - however it would also be necessary to be a governor who isn't a teacher if that makes sense - the governor is making strategic and high level decisions - not dealing with or interfering in low level school management issues... so it is a very different perspective and needs to be non-emotive and pragmatic - so also do consider whether being a) a parent and b) a teacher (though I assume elsewhere, but perhaps not?) will give you the correct perspective to be a governor where you might have to make tough decisions which affect your child / teachers...

OdinsLoveChild Mon 10-Apr-17 13:40:53

I used to be a Governor many many years ago. Our meetings always used to run over massively being on the agenda for 5.30-7.30 but actually getting out of there at 9pm most meetings. This has caused childcare issues for me in the past as they don't like you walking out mid discussion.

With regards to the amount of work I found only the same select few people were chosen to do all of the work and no one else got a look in so I didn't do anything really, just turned up to meetings gave my opinion caused an argument or 2 then went home until next time.

Its the training that takes all the time. Ive done 2 hours this week alone (online) and over the last few months I've averaged around 2-3 hours a week because they keep changing their minds about what is necessary to keep up to date with everything.

I would grab a Governor and ask them to let you know exactly how much time and commitment it takes and also consider what it is you want to get out of it yourself.

FATEdestiny Mon 10-Apr-17 14:04:04

I've been a primary governor, am currently a secondary governor and was a teacher myself (but now a long term SAHM).

I'd say primary governors are asked to give more time than secondary, but the extra is voluntary. In primary it's things like a governor being asked to attend school plays, golden book assemblies, visit classes, see the school chickens and so on. All those typical primary things.

In secondary I am invited for a tour of the school once a year, but all other contact with the school is in formal meetings - exclusion meetings, meetings with faculty heads or SLT members in linked roles. So these can be arranged at times that suit you, rather than having to be in school time. They are also more focused and so quicker, rather than the cuddly-fluffiness of primary little ones.

Really - you need to be prepared to attend at least 2 formal governor meetings a term - one full governors, one committee meeting. They'll be a bit of training to do too. But that's not actually that much time over the whole year. All the rest are nice-to-do, but not compulsory.

Topsy1980 Mon 10-Apr-17 15:36:53

Thank you everyone for your replies.
I've been into school to find out more about it this afternoon. There's 2 meetings each term. I asked about training and they said it's optional. And I can be as involved as I wish with school visits etc.
Interesting to think about being impartial when I'm both a teacher (at a different school though) and a parent. I'd really like to get an insight into how the strategic running of the school happens. It is a very different school to where I work and it'd be interesting to get a feel for how the school works from a non-staff perspective.
I'm still undecided about workload though!

JennyOnAPlate Mon 10-Apr-17 15:48:45

I'm a parent governor at my dc's primary school. I go to three meetings a term (one for the full board and 2 committee meetings)
It takes up more time than I thought it would but I really enjoy it.

Training shouldn't be optional imo...it's absolutely necessary. I would be very wary of joining a board which doesn't support training (and ofsted would be very wary too!)

OdinsLoveChild Mon 10-Apr-17 16:51:16

Sorry just reread my first post and it doesn't make sense. I was a primary governor many years ago.

My current training refers to being a governor at a fe college.

Im just going to stop posting for a while I think none of todays posts make any sense confused Im having a really crap few months. Sorry sad

Topsy1980 Mon 10-Apr-17 18:03:57

Thanks all.
I think I'll go for it... Just need to convince my OH that it's a good idea!

Topsy1980 Mon 10-Apr-17 18:14:17

Thank you for your message OdinsLoveChild. I hadn't noticed - it made sense to me!! Sorry to read you're having a crap time - hope you're ok. And thank you for your advice x

bojorojo Mon 10-Apr-17 22:29:48

I would think that you might be better going for a staff Governor role at your own school to be honest. I think you have not been given a full indication of what is expected and if you don't /cannot put the time in you risk the school being criticised by Ofsted.

The Governors do need to make time to come into school to get to know the strengths and weaknesses as well as monitor policies and especially monitor the school improvement plan. Safeguarding, finance, inspections, HR, data interpretation, your role as a parent Governor as well as the strategic management of the school, and so much more, will require your good understanding and training is vital - absolutely not optional. Governing bodies are now supposed to have skills that meet the requirements of running a GB so another teacher in addition to those at the school is not always what is required.

I spend quite a lot of time reading the HTs report, having meetings with teachers on progress on my part of the SIP, making sure I'm up to speed with PP (my other hat) and other Governors do SEN, Safeguarding, Performance Management, Literacy, Premises, Health and Safety, School Visits, Finance and Benchmarking, Community and parent liaison, self evaluation, whole GB training, and everything else you can think of. They come into school as well. It is not just evenings and meetings. Visiting the school is not optional or how will you know about the area of work you will do? It is hard work and you are quite wrong if you think you can be a committed Governor without training. I would be worried about the quality of this GB.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Tue 11-Apr-17 12:09:04

I agree with Jenny. I'd be very wary of a school that didn't promote training and only had two meetings a term. I've recently resigned as a governor and was expected to do lots of training and a full FGB every month, plus various groups within the governing body, for which different governors took the lead role.

I attended parent evenings, staff tea parties, Christmas events, school trips, Governor days and spent a lot of time doing online courses in my own time.

I think if you do it properly, you need to spend several hours a week, to get on top of the paperwork, which is definitely what Ofsted will expect.

cantkeepawayforever Tue 11-Apr-17 12:26:05

I would also say that you would normally be expected to spend a couple of days - at least - in school, probably more, over the year and you need to think about how you would fit that in with your existing commitments. Governors typcially take an item from the SDP, then a small number will come into school to look at that 'in action', write a report on it, feed back to the GB and continue to monitor updates ... then repeat.

I would say that having teachers from another phase on the GB is VERY useful (we have a secondary assistant head on ours and it is very very useful), but teachers from another school in the same phase can be quite difficult. If you teach in the same phase, being a staff governor in your own school may be more appropriate, and IME is less time consuming as for all the 'Governors need to be in school for...' events you are always already there!

bojorojo Tue 11-Apr-17 22:44:54

Governors are not expected to go on school trips or be around for school events unless it ties in with strategic management and monitoring a policy or the SIP/SDP. Visits don't have to be all day either but visiting during lessons for a learning walk is important and monitoring your area whether it be PP or Finance will require your input in school time.

cantkeepawayforever Wed 12-Apr-17 07:15:04

Sorry, yes, should have been clearer - those 'couple of days' can be e.g. 4 half days, or 6 x a couple of hours spent in and around classrooms on learning walks. We tend to combine them, as that is easier for our governors, so look at more than 1 thing in a longer visit rather than having lots of separate ones. But yes, visits in a school day for monitoring / seeing lessons is absolutely normal, and might be harder for a schoolteacher from another school.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Thu 13-Apr-17 21:55:44

borojoro we were very much expected to be around for school events and visits and there was considerable pressure (resisted) to go on the residential visits too. One of the reasons I gave up. I felt that a greater burden fell upon those who wer not in paid employment and there was inequality, particularly as there are no expenses paid.

bojorojo Thu 13-Apr-17 23:55:35

Foxy. Your school cannot insist and should not use Governors as additional help. It is quite clear that Governors provide strategic management for the school and not an extra pair of hands, eyes and ears! I have been on several school trips but I volunteered because I enjoy them! It gave me a chance to meet the children, get to know the teachers and parents a bit better and look at the aspects of the curriculum they were studying. I was available to go. It is not expected and it never should be. You were right to resist. You needed a change of Chair to focus on what you should be doing. Not that being seen is a bad thing, but it should not be a three line whip.

Governor training is quite explicit in what is expected and so is the Government's position on the role of governing bodies. Lots of Governing bodies have not even reconstituted with less parents and staff governors but governors co-opted for their skills instead. There are only 2 non working (paid employment) governors at my school. The rest work and they are full time. There is no way I do more, or less, than them. I do less than the Chairman for obvious reasons. It is sad that your school did not understand the role of governors and was unable to prioritise work and allocate it fairly. Good governing bodies work well together and everyone takes on at least one main role: A Chairman of a committee, monitoring a policy, monitoring an SDP section, HT Appraisal, PP progress and spending, finance, etc. (The teacher governor tends to do less in my experience though! )

lorisparkle Fri 14-Apr-17 00:11:18

I found being a governor far too big a commitment when I was working as well. Ofsted wanted the governors to know how things were working in school for example if pupil premium money was spent on a particular intervention then they would expect the governors to have first hand experience of this through being in school. As a teacher I could not spend time in school as a governor so felt I was not fulfilling that role. With two young children I would not be a governor. Most of the governors were retired so could spend a lot of time in school.

bojorojo Sat 15-Apr-17 00:31:23

It seems perfectly reasonable that Governors know that the PP money is being spent effectively. As the identities of the PP children should not be known to Governors, you should never go into a classroom to monitor progress and the quality of teaching these children receive. The spending of the money and monitoring of progress should be done by anonymised reports on progress that the PP Governir receives and questions can be asked about progress and changes to how the money is spent. This can be done by meeting the PP Co-ordinator but is not very time consuming. First hand experience (going into classes to pinpoint these children) is absolutely not required by Ofsted but evaluation of the success, or otherwise, of the spending through monitoring the progress of the children is required. Changing what is provided and looking at cost effective provision is also important but this doesn't require classroom visits either. This can all be done after school.

Doing a learning walk is different as individuals are not identified and this is done in school time.

lorisparkle Sat 15-Apr-17 14:54:49

I did not mean that I knew who the pp pupils were just that there was an expectation of seeing things happening in school and as a teacher at a different school how could I be in two schools at the same time. Similarly how could I meet with the teachers at the beginning and the end of the day as, as a teacher, I am working in my own school at that time and certainly would not expect class teachers to be meeting me in the evening. The other governors were either part time, retired or had flexible hours.

bojorojo Sat 15-Apr-17 17:53:42

I agree it is very difficult. There are two teachers on our GB who are currently full time, but one is a DH of an independent school and the other is a senior teacher in a secondary age special school. They are able to come into school when our teachers are around. Neither has a full teaching commitment of course. I think potential governors can be told about evening meetings and not realise school monitoring visits are necessary. It is very difficult to fit this in if you cannot be released from work. We do find self employed people can make time during the day.

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