Is anyone a governor of their child's school? What do you think?

(13 Posts)
cultkid Fri 18-Sep-20 13:03:50

Do you enjoy it?
do you make an impact?
What do you do?

Our school will be recruiting them soon, I'm thinking about the role. Instead of just being on the PTFA

OP’s posts: |
Guymere Fri 18-Sep-20 14:59:48

I’m not a parent governor but was a governor for around 20 years at various schools.

You do have to see the role as collaborative. The governing body has collective responsibility and shouldn’t be full of maverick governors with their own agendas. You work with the Head for the good of the school. It’s not really a role where individuals make a difference but some Governors are more engaged than others.

You can find out quite a lot about the role by reading the minutes of the meetings and looking at the school’s Improvement Plan (SIP). Governors must monitor progress on this and being familiar with school data is vital in this regard. Governors normally take on roles and report back to the full governing body. Often this will be a monitoring role within the SIP, or Pupil Premium, or SEND for example. It’s far more than just meetings but training is available so you can make a knowledgeable contribution.

Please don’t think it’s an extension of fund raising or cheerleading. The quality of education and teaching, the progress of children as well as monitoring the curriculum, the effectiveness of school policies, premises and finances is all part of the governors role (and lots more). You can ask the outgoing governor what they made of the role or other current governors. It is not a role where you represent the parents regarding complaints either. You are a governor in your own right and not a representative.

If you want to know more in depth, the Government has details on their web site but finding out how your GB works is a good start and identifying what skills you have that would make you a good fit.

Hope that helps.

Guymere Fri 18-Sep-20 15:02:41

I forgot: ask if you can see copies of the Heads Report to Governors. No names of children should be included and it shouldn’t be confidential. It should give a clear insight into what the GB will be talking about and what data is being looked at and what progress is being made on the SIP. In the last school where I was governor, this report was always over 30 pages. But we knew Everything!!!

Atalune Fri 18-Sep-20 15:08:34

It is a big responsibility. I have been a governor and my friend was chair which almost did her in.

You are the back tips for the school and take a role in all the big educational decisions. Interviewing teachers, making sure your OFSTED ready, ensuring a quality of education across the boards. Holding the staff accountable in some cases as well as supporting them. There will be issues around social care for children and families so you have to be discreet too.

BlueChampagne Fri 18-Sep-20 15:09:34

I would contact the current chair of governors to discuss what is expected. It varies according to whether it is LA funded/maintained or part of an academy chain. They may also be looking for people with particular skills to fill gaps.

nachthexe Fri 18-Sep-20 15:09:46

I was. Am not now. It’s very interesting. Our HT changed during my term and we were heavily involved in the recruitment and selection of the replacement. I showed prospective candidates around the school, discussed what we were looking for, and was involved in the interview/ teaching assessments.
This of course doesn’t happen too frequently, and the more usual workload revolves as Guymere said. If you are interested in educational theories and standards it’s very interesting.
It’s nothing like PTA or fundraising committee. I’ve done both and they are poles apart. This is educational management alongside the HT and authority, not bake sale for books. Fundraising is great but nothing at all to do with governance.

cultkid Fri 18-Sep-20 15:25:00

This sounds more what I am interested in. The strategy behind the school, really really helpful information and terms I knew nothing about. I will email and ask for this information.

Thank you very much everyone for the comprehensive answers.

OP’s posts: |

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Guymere Fri 18-Sep-20 15:40:21

Governors are very much about setting the strategic vision. The Head carries it out. At my last school, governors didn’t interview teachers. At my previous schools we did. A lot can be delegated to the Head, and should be. You are there to read the reports, be sufficiently informed and trained to question where necessary and hold the school to account. Also support where necessary. Working together for a better school is what’s important.

cultkid Fri 18-Sep-20 15:46:08

@Guymere thank you for taking the time to write all of this stuff I'm going to have a look at more information this evening when the children are in bed

I feel quite excited this could be a really brilliant experience

OP’s posts: |
winterisstillcoming Fri 18-Sep-20 15:52:52

I'm chair at my children's' school. It's nothing about your own children, but really fulfilling and frustrating in equal measure. It takes a lot of time to do properly and there are visits as well as meetings to attend. You'll also be asked to sit on interview or complaints panels occasionally, pay review boards and get to know the school.

Guymere Fri 18-Sep-20 15:55:30

You are welcome! In the dim and distant past I trained Governors. Training is vital in my view and does help you make an informed contribution.

Someone mentioned upthread about the Governors seeking specific skills. When it’s a parent governor, the existing governors have no veto on that. Whoever wants to stand, can stand. If the candidate cannot add 2+2 it would make no difference. The parent decides to apply for the vacancy. If more than one parent applies, there is a parental ballot. The existing governors have no vote (unless they are a parent) and no say in who puts themselves forward. Their only role prior to all of this is possibly giving candidates more info about the school and how the GB works and to answer questions if candidates ask them. Don’t go into this thinking your skills might not fit. They undoubtedly will and a willingness to learn goes a long way.

DominaShantotto Fri 18-Sep-20 17:46:49

I was. I've stepped down because the way the head has approached Covid is appalling - the tone of communication to parents in particular - when you have new nursery parents saying they feel the head doesn't want their children in school ever - something's gone wrong.

I did find that as a parent governor the Chair in particular really didn't want mothers on there - he wanted the nice men who he viewed as being business-people on there and nothing else - despite my background in education and SEN. It was quite shameful at times and very very sexist. I probably sound quite disillusioned - I enjoyed the times we went in to visit the kids and see what was going on in the school, and I enjoyed discussions and working with the staff in the subject areas I was responsible for - but Covid soured it a lot, as did the whole undercurrent of me just being a "mummy governor" - not just directed at me, the other governor in a similar situation got the same treatment.

I'm considering standing again at my kids' new school (they've outgrown the other one) - but everything's up in the air because of Covid of course (and incidentally this one has handled that MUCH better).

Guymere Fri 18-Sep-20 18:30:38

I am very sorry to hear of the very unprofessional dynamics in your GB, Domina.

I too have seen this in a secondary school - but 20 years ago! I honestly think it’s less common in primary schools. It’s very wearing, rude and quite simply uncalled for. I can tell you that self styled “business” people are not uniquely qualified to be governors. It sounds like yours needed training on a rounded skill set in the GB and valuing all contributions. Never mind equality and discrimination training!

It tends to be that too many female parent governors dive into SEN and the men don’t want that role. They love finance and premises! However no one should be pidgeon holes due to outdated stereotypes and everyone has something to offer. Do have another go at a more enlightened school. This type of dinosaur governor should have died out long ago and I thought they had to be honest! Let’s hope a meteor strike sees them off or an influx of women so they are sidelined!

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