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Are any of you governors ?

(39 Posts)
throckenholt Mon 15-Sep-08 12:31:34

I am just beginning the process of becoming ones at our school and was wondering what I am letting myself in for (I hope it is nothing like the playgroup committee world!).

And advice, anecdotes, or tips welcomed

twinsetandpearls Mon 15-Sep-08 12:33:56

yes in my experirience you can do as much or as little as you want to.

wannaBe Mon 15-Sep-08 12:38:46

I am. Have only been since March though so still relatively new.

Agree with twinset though on the whole you can do as much or little as you feel comfortable with/have the time for.

Lots of meetings involved esp if you are on a sub committee too - I am on the finance committee as well...

DontCallMeBaby Mon 15-Sep-08 12:43:00

I've just been appointed! So I have no advice etc but you can hold my hand if you like. <gibbers>

throckenholt Mon 15-Sep-08 20:47:30

bump - any more out there ? Us newbies need some reassurance

Sobernow Mon 15-Sep-08 20:57:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CostaRicanCod Mon 15-Sep-08 20:58:05

yes have been oen forever
6 years

nowwearefour Mon 15-Sep-08 21:00:40

i have been one for a 4 yr term. i stopped as it was at a school where i used to live not where i live now. but me or dh might well go on again. i think is a great kjob. you can give as much or as little as you want. politics with the head and the staff is the most tricky thing i find as you are there to challenge them but equally you dont want to bea pain in the neck completely !!!! what is the head like?

throckenholt Tue 16-Sep-08 12:33:06

thanks for answering.

The head is great - but retiring at Christmas - so that is a huge issue at the moment. Apparently being a small rural school it will be very difficult getting a new head.

Somehow I missed the 4 year term thing - is that a rule or just a norm ?

StellaDallas Tue 16-Sep-08 13:52:03

The term of office is stated in every GB's terms of reference, but four years is the norm. It takes a year to understand what is actually going on in the meetings and another to be able to make sensible contributions IME. Then you only have two years left. I am three years in to my term and hope to go on for another four after that.

Niecie Tue 16-Sep-08 13:58:03

I've just been elected and been to my first two meetings so I shall watch with interest.

Finance committee last night - no idea why I needed to be there though - the head and the school admin lady have it pretty much sown up. Perhaps it will become clearer with time.

Also on Curriculum committee - no idea what they do!

Was surprised how offical and formal it all is.

pageturner Tue 16-Sep-08 14:00:11

I'm nearly 2 years in and definitely agree with the politics being the worst bit. had a meeting last night and there is a big issue with the head which has got me furious. Right now i feel like resigning. sad But I won't, beause I'm not a quitter and that would probably only please the old witch. smile

Gobbledigook Tue 16-Sep-08 14:00:24

Am thinking of going for a post when 2 come up in Nov.

Did you all have to write a personal statement to support your application? If so - any hints on what's good to include?

Twiglett Tue 16-Sep-08 14:10:52

Politics, bureaucracy, snide glances between certain people.

Lots of policy ratification for Ofsted.

Some patronisation. Some things that feel important.

It depends on the GB I think.

Niecie Tue 16-Sep-08 14:11:33

I had to write an application and because there were more applicants than posts we had to have a vote too so personal statements ended up being important.

Our county council/LEA website was useful in listing what they are looking for, eg. evidence of team working, evidence of interest in education, relevant skills like accountancy, HR etc, past experience of similar roles (not quite the same but I ran a toddler group and put that down), work you have done with children or in the community.

DontCallMeBaby Tue 16-Sep-08 14:14:37

This was my personal statement Gobbledigood - it didn't get used in the end though, cos there were three of us nominated for three posts. The head obviously read it though, from what he said to me yesterday. As you'll see, referring to it from here is a bit meta, cos a lot of it came from MN anyway.

n5rje Tue 16-Sep-08 14:16:45

throckenholt - I'm a governor of a small rural school too and our head retired at the end of the summer term. Just a word of warning about the process for finding a new one - ime it was very rigourous and because of that pretty timeconsuming if you are choosen to have a specific role. In our case we had to divide into two groups, one to carry out the recruitment process and the other to be an appeals panel not directly involved in case there was an appeal at the end. We were lucky to get good applications and a very good new head but we were told we might have to do it more than once. I won't bore everyone with the details here but feel free to ask if you have any specific questions.

I believe the 4 year term is now standard and was introduced a couple of years ago

MadBadandDangerousToKnow Tue 16-Sep-08 18:14:54

Have been a Local Authority governor for about 7 years.

The art/science of being a governor, I think, is learning how to be a 'critical friend' to the school. There's nothing to be gained from being confrontational but many governing bodies, I think, are better at the 'friend' part than at the 'critical', which means that things can get a bit cosy and complacent. Some (not all) headteachers can also be rather defensive and asking any sort of mildly challenging question has to be done with great tact and finesse.

Some governing bodies give new governors a mentor. Local authorities also often have a governor support team, who can be really helpful in answering the sorts of basic questions you might not want to ask in a meeting.

tkband3 Tue 16-Sep-08 18:50:26

I was just about to start a thread asking what's involved in being a governor! 2 vacancies have come up at our school and I'm thinking about putting myself up for it.

How many meetings per month are there likely to be? I don't mind but DH can often not guarantee to get home from work at a reasonable hour and I don't want to end up spending a fortune on babysitters smile.

llareggub Tue 16-Sep-08 19:03:54

I've just become a governor and have attended one meeting so far. I'm on the Resources sub-committee because I thought I could probably contribute something to that rather than the curriculum one.

First meeting was a real eye-opener. Lots of tension and power struggles, absolutely fascinating to watch. I decided to keep schtum and observe and learn as much as I could, and resolved to meet with the head individually as soon as possible. I think she got quite frustrated with the GB at times and some of the comments directed towards her were inappropriate at times. Sadly one of the few governors that appeared sensible at the first meeting has since resigned, a real loss I think.

Our local authority appears to support governors well. We have a support team, newsletter, area meetings and lots and lots of training. In fact I have a 10 week course starting fairly soon which seems intensive but there's quite a bit to learn, I think.

llareggub Tue 16-Sep-08 19:05:34

tkband, at my school the meetings are once a term with an additional sub committee once a term or so, more if there is an appointments panel. It doesn't seem too onerous but obviously you need to prepare for the meetings as well.

Feenie Tue 16-Sep-08 22:12:59

Me. I'm a teacher governor. I'm all for the critical friend bit, but there are some governors on our body that think being critical allows you to be downright rude. I may get quite frosty when that happens. Otherwise, I am a lovely teacher governor grin

throckenholt Wed 17-Sep-08 08:00:35

We have a main meeting each half term and then the committees each have a meeting each half term - more if needed for special reasons (eg appointing a new head !).

I haven't yet been to any meetings - it will be interesting to see - I know most of them through being a parent - but haven;t worked with any of them. There is one fairly dominant (at least in numbers) family group so it will be interesting to see how that works.

I hope I have an advantage that I am not a local - but have lived here for 10+ years - so I know the area but have no particular allegiance.

pageturner - I hope things calm down a bit for you.

n5rje - will probably come back to you with questions.

I was puzzled by the process of becoming a governor - no personal statement needed, no election (although there was last year for 2 parent governors). It seems there are 3 vacancies and expressing an interest was enough . Maybe I am well enough known not to need to be vetted ?!

pageturner Wed 17-Sep-08 11:41:43

Agree absolutely with MBADTK, that's exactly the situation for me. A couple of governors are very cosy with the head, unfortunately including the chair, and he won't hear a word of anything remotely resembling criticism. The head is fantastic at all things organisation/bureaucratic, but her personal skills are appalling. I raised an issue the other night regarding parents' reactions to their childrens' class allocation at the end of last term; the problem really isn't so much what was done as the way it was done, and god, she made me suffer for raising it. Now she's blanking me at the school gate. Aaaargh! <and breathe...>

DontCallMeBaby Wed 17-Sep-08 11:48:15

Noted, feenie - so we want to be the sort of 'critical friend' that takes you out shopping and does a Gok, not the kind that says 'blardy hell, your arse looks HUGE in that!' Metaphorically speaking, obviously.

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