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What's involved in being a parent governor?

(14 Posts)
middarkday Mon 12-Feb-18 17:53:39

My DC's school are asking for parent governor nominations. The school has provided a brief list of task areas but I was wondering if anyone has experience of being a parent governor/ governor and could give advice on the time/ work commitment. Or more detail of what is involved, for example, are parent governors expected to consult with parents on their issues and advocate for changes they would like to see?

PlanNumber Mon 12-Feb-18 18:01:48

It depends very much on the school, the skills you have and what kind of governor you want to be.

A parent governor is absolutely not an advocate for parents, their role is essentially the same as any other governor and it can be hard to separate their "wants" for their child with the needs of the school as a whole, but they must learn to do so.

Some schools have very involved governors which will involve regular visits to school on top of meetings. Others just use them to tick boxes (although OFSTED will spot that) and don't use their input very much.

If you have skills in finance, health and safety or law you could be called on for free advice and services a lot.

middarkday Mon 12-Feb-18 18:18:21

Thanks Plan.

My background is in strategic planning and performance information. But I also have an interest in outdoor learning and play based learning for younger children. I asked about advocacy as the information from the school mentioned that the governor would be a representative for parents.

BrendansDanceShoes Mon 12-Feb-18 18:24:21

The information from the school is wrong. One of my playground buddies is one of the parent governors and it is absolutely NOT a parent representative (and parents get told this when they start moaning directly to them on the playground and at parties). You are a governor who is a parent. Difference is subtle, but governors are more like a check and balance on the school, they do not make the day to day decisions. Your strategic planning skills would be invaluable

wibblywobblyfish Mon 12-Feb-18 18:36:31

I have been a co-opted school governor for about 5 years over two different settings. I'm on the welfare committee currently but I did serve in the finance committee for a while. It generally involves reviewing school policies, deciding which MAT to join, questioning the HT on budgets, monitoring the school self evaluation against the school development plan. We have also decided providers of school catering and large capital spends.

Your role is a 'critical friend' If you have an axe to grind re school parking or the amount of homework, it's not the post for you. I'll be leaving the governors at the end of this 4yr post as it can be quite time consuming and I find implementing change frustratingly slow.

PlanNumber Mon 12-Feb-18 19:31:41

ATM, my school could really use a governor who can help with performance data production and analysis.

TBH, I'm not sure why anyone would do it, it can be really hard work and a lot of responsibility rests on the shoulders of governors, considering it's unpaid. That said if you do have the time to do it well and a head who is receptive to it, you can really make a difference and it would be very rewarding.

OnlyTheDepthVaries Mon 12-Feb-18 19:45:50

My school had a huge problem with governors not turning up at meetings or visiting the school. Only do it if you can actually commit the time needed...it is a voluntary role but you are volunteering to do something...not just for it to look good on your cv.
I was a chair of governors who had huge problems with well meaning but ineffective church governors who didn't understand the role they were supposed to be doing and constantly undermined the governing body and headteacher. Once I had dealt with them, very stressy, we achieved an Ofsted "outstanding ".
It is a great role and very worthwhile but not an easy option.

middarkday Mon 12-Feb-18 20:30:02

Thanks everyone.

Hmmm, if it really is a significant time burden I think I might be best passing this time. We have just moved to this country and I have a lot to do trying to establish a new life for us all. As well as trying to find a job for myself. I see the office is four years .I might wait those four years for the post to come up and consider it again then. Apart for anything I will be more familiar with the education system here by then.
Thanks

Shivermetimbers0112 Mon 12-Feb-18 21:09:15

Been a governor for 9 years now. It is a big but rewarding commitment - if you establish good relationships with the school staff and fellow governors. A good board will understand that the level of commitment can’t be the same from each governor, but whatever you do you must do wholeheartedly.

BubblesBuddy Mon 12-Feb-18 23:06:26

Plan: may I suggest that the production of progress data is the job of the Head. A Governor cannot do it because they would be able to identify individual children. The Head should produce data showing the progress of boys and girls, progress based on ks1 results, progress of send and pp children etc. If you don’t have this info from the Head, why not? We have pages of it for curriculum and progress committee and the main meeting. It’s vital information.

It is the Governor’s job to interrogate the data, ask questions of the Head, and ultimately base the school improvement plan on any shortcomings that appear. The Head should lead in this.

All Governors can go on courses to interrogate data but they shouldn’t produce it. The assessment of the children by professional teachers should do that.

PlanNumber Tue 13-Feb-18 12:36:25

Of course it is Bubbles, but she's struggling with it and a "useful" governor would be a godsend. Someone who can help set it up.

A governor who had some interest in the data an knew what could/should be produced to keep on the HT's back would also be a godsend.

BubblesBuddy Tue 13-Feb-18 16:58:22

I am really sorry, but a Governor cannot do this. There is confidential information about individual pupils when setting up and running data on progress. That is fairly obvious and is not a job for a Governor. Why do you not have a decent system already? We have had ours for years! We buy it in. Our LA also runs one which came on stream after the new assessment without levels was introduced but our provider changed the program earlier and we decided to keep with that system. We have just been praised by Ofsted as excellent in terms of knowing the progress of children and setting targets based on that knowledge.

It is up to the Head, and the governors, to make sure the data is reliable and accurate but not do her work for her. How are the other schools in the LA doing assessment and progress data? For us, the teachers and the Head put in the information required and interrogate it for reports which then come out to the governors before meetings. We do not see the names of individual children and we do not put data into the program. Governors are not there to do "useful" jobs the Head cannot do. They are there to facilitate CPD, of course, and make sure the Head does her job. Do you not set the Head performance targets? This should be first on the list I would have thought. Otherwise you have no idea what progress the children are making if the data is variable and unreliable. How can you make decisions based on what you are told if you are not confident with the data? You, as a Governor, are required to interpret data, not input the data. You have a strategic role, but not a direct training role.

BubblesBuddy Tue 13-Feb-18 17:00:04

In my LA governors go on training courses to learn about what data is required to monitor school performance and make changes as a result of interpreting the data. We all know what the Head should produce. Have you not done your Governor training?

admission Tue 13-Feb-18 20:36:50

Have to agree with Bubbles here, setting up pupil assessment systems is not something that any governor should be doing. If the headteacher and the senior leadership team do not have the capability to set up a comprehensive pupils assessment and recording system, then they need to go and get some outside help, not from a school governor.
I would also have to question whether any of them are "fit for purpose" if they cannot produce appropriate pupil data for the governing board, having been asked for it.

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