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OK, so I'm thinking of standing as a parent governor - anything I need to know?

(12 Posts)
edam Fri 10-Jul-09 11:49:14

ds has been at his primary for three years, since nursery and now they need a new parent governor. Am tempted to stand but guess there might be things that would be worth knowing - are there any governors out there that could give me some top tips?

School is very good and so it should be, lucky enough to be in an affluent area with middle class parents know their way around the education system. (I'm not being snobby, just trying to explain that it doesn't face any of the challenges that schools in less-well off areas might.)

Head is v. good but not great at talking to parents - think she's stuck in 'addressing small children' mold and is rather bossy (but I don't hold that against her, must be very irritating dealing with pushy parents all day long.)

MamaG Fri 10-Jul-09 11:52:22

Ooh I was thinking about it too edam, I'll lurk

edam Fri 10-Jul-09 11:57:31

Hope someone who is a governor comes along to help us both, then!

LuluSkipToMyLou Fri 10-Jul-09 11:58:10

It's a bloody sight more work than they tell you - at least in a small school where the governing body is small!

Useful tips - go on any courses offered if possible, don't be afraid to disagree/ask questions, never say yes to anything without getting full details of what it entails, be prepared to be jumped on by HT/Chair at all times for 'quick chats' (yeah right). Oh, and don't rest on your laurels, OFSTED will ask what you're all doing to improve things even if your last report was 'outstanding'.

On the plus side, it's extremely rewarding to feel like you're giving something back, and it's a real eye-opener to LEA policy and how schools REALLY run!

this website is worth its weight in gold, have a look through - if you decide you still want to go for it, good luck, it's brilliant and frustrating in equal measures! Looks great on the CV though wink!

Simples Fri 10-Jul-09 11:59:14

everyone will hate you depsite the fact they wont do it themselves

BUT it does get you out of PTA duties

edam Fri 10-Jul-09 12:09:02

grin Simples and Lulu. One of the mums I know is a governor and no-one hates her. <hopeful emoticon>

Thanks for the link, will read and digest. Ofsted point is very important, school did get 'outstanding' last time and the inspectors are coming back in September...

EccentricaGallumbits Fri 10-Jul-09 12:18:34

When they say 'It's really not that hard work' or 'you just need to do what you can find the time for' they are lying.

sinclair Fri 10-Jul-09 12:18:54

I have been P Governor at 2 schools, am currently Vice Chair. It is more like work than PTA stuff, even tho still voluntary. Eye-opening in terms of what schools have to deal with, satisfying as lots of what you do is project based tho some things do seem to endlessly be on the 'to-do' list. Friendships forged with other governors is a plus - disadvantage is that a few parents do think you are there for them (you aren't - that is just the way you are elected) and buttonhole you in the pub about trivial stuff.
Ofsted is scary - we are due next term too - but mostly it is what you make of it.

I say go for it!

PlasticQueen Fri 10-Jul-09 12:27:38

You have to be prepared to stand your ground and say 'I can't afford to contribute that much' when all the other governors are handing over £50 for Governors Raffle and leaving presents for teachers etc.

ManicMother7777 Fri 10-Jul-09 13:38:17

I've been a governor a few years (am now a chair)and I love it. The biggest challenge most parent govs face is that governor work is about the bigger picture i.e the strategic view, so you have to put your own child's needs to the back of your mind, as well as all the operational day to day stuff that might annoy you about the school! Or at least if you want to talk about your own child, then you need to go through usual channels of speaking to class teacher etc with your parent hat on rather than governor hat. Also a lot of parents will try to use you as a vehicle to discuss their gripes, but you have to direct them back to the head. Governors only get involved in complaints when all formal complaints procedures with the school have failed and complainer isn't happy.

On the plus side, it's rewarding and interesting being involved in key decisions about curriculum, finance, staffing, results. Also governors come from all walks of life and that's also good fun being involved with a diverse group of people.The time commitment can vary a lot.

Agree absolutely, go for it! You can resign at any time if it's really not for you.

edam Fri 10-Jul-09 19:58:28

Thanks everyone - have put in the form so will wait and see if it's contested... (last time there were two vacancies and two candidates so no election, IIRC).

My Dad's a governor at my sister's old school and seems to spend a lot of time proving that the LEA are talking codswallop. grin

Merle Sat 11-Jul-09 23:35:51

I've been a governor at my childrens' primary school for 4 years and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in education. When I first started I was surprised by the amount of paperwork (can't think why, knowing what education is like) and I found the meetings a bit dull to begin with. It took a bit of adjustment to realise that as governors we are interested in the long-term vision for the school, rather than the day to day running. The best description of a governor is that of a 'critical friend' of the school, so as long as you remain in that frame of mind, you should be alright.

Our school is small and there are only 3 parent governors (plus 4 other non-teacher governors). This means that we are all on one committee more than we would really like- there are a lot of responsibilities and too few of us. We have formed a couple of working parties as well. You might want to check how many committees you are likely to be asked to sit on and when the meetings will be held- ours are in the daytime. I say this because the full governors meetings are 6 times a year in the evenings and a lot of people find this a do-able commitment, but extra daytime meetings are more difficult to arrange.

It is a really good group of people, though, and I have enjoyed getting things done and making progress with the school.

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