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Can anyone advise me on being a school governor I am tempted to apply?

(31 Posts)
Bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 10-Sep-09 11:38:16

I am sahm with 3 dc between 5 and 11 months. I have experience of working in public sector and was training as a transport planner before dc arrived, I have also helped at numerous road safety events for primary aged children.

I would like to be of service and feel I have useful skills but what does being a governor entail aside from attending meetings?

Makingchanges Thu 10-Sep-09 11:45:38

I'm a reasonably new governor but there are people on here with plenty of experience. For me being a governor means a meeting once a term minimum - there has also been random meetings for other ad-hoc things and training sessions. We are also linked to a class and can go into this class for observations (I haven't done this yet)

I had a DD who is at nursery and have other commitments during the day as well - I find it rewarding and interesting. Beware of the piles of paperwork that come your way though - they can be daunting when you first start as I found they made little sense.

I know a few other governors as well (not where I am governor) and they all enjoy it and all work full-time

Niecie Thu 10-Sep-09 11:46:24

I am also a SAHM and I am a governor.

The meetings are a big part of what it is all about but we have a scheme called Love a Gov where each governor is paired up with a class and we basically raise the governors profiles and get to know the children. As I have the time, I have been helping out by listening to reading and also with special events like when they had a Greek banquet as part of their Greek topic. I helped prepare and serve the food. It is about getting involved really and actually it is fun.

We also get invited to assemblies for special occasions, like end of term or a particular class assembly.

There are training courses to do and these are quite structured and formal so there is a lot to learn.

Have a look at your County council website, if you haven't done so already, and hopefully they will have something on there about the role of the governor. This is ours if it is any help.

Go for it, I say. It is an excellent way of getting out of the house if nothing else.

Bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 10-Sep-09 12:00:42

Thank you for replying Niceie and Makingchangessmile

I am a little nervous about flinging myself forward and also aware that I may bruise my ego if there are more volunteers tan needed and I am not selected (but that is no reason not to go ahead).

I would like to make a contribution to the school and as I will have 3 children attending over the next decade I have a vested interest. Just hope they want me!

No fear about dealing with local bigwigs and council paperwork as did plenty of that in my life BC!

wannaBe Thu 10-Sep-09 12:01:19

I am chair of governors at my ds' school.

The meetings are a big part of being a governor but I would say that there does need to be a bit more involvement than that, although that can obviously vary depending on the amount of time you have available. Also you would be expected to attend training courses and also to probably be on a sub committee such as finance or staffing (depending on how your governing body is structured.

The need for involvement can also depend on what is going on at the school at the time. E.g. we recruited a new head last year so the governors had to be a lot more available to e.g. sort out the recruitment process/agree on the advert/do the shortlisting for the candidates/be on the interview panel and observations of tasks which the candidates had to undertake. We had a lot more meetings that term, and although not all governors were involved, most did have a part to play in the process. This was obviously something somewhat out of the ordinary as we wouldn't expect to recruit a new head on a regular basis, but it is also something that you cannot necessarily plan for as a head could decide to resign at any moment.

It's also worth bearing in mind that the role of the governors can have an impact on the ofsted report of the school. It's vital that the governing body is seen to be a strong one with a good knowledge of what goes on at their school, as when ofsted come calling the governors will be expected to meet with the inspectors. Again this won't necessarily be all the governors, but the wider the knowledge is in the governing body, the stronger that governing body is seen to be.

clumsymum Thu 10-Sep-09 12:02:36

I'm just starting my second 3-year stretch as a governor, having been re-selected for the board (altho' there wasn't much competition, very few people seem to be interested in being governors at our school).

It is very interesting, and certainly gives you a very good insight into the school.

But it is also a very responsible position, and you should remember that.

To do the job properly, you should be prepared to go on the induction course that your LEA should provide, plus other courses over time.. Also bear in mind that you will get lots of paper-work, and need to attend a fair few meetings. There will be one 'full governors' meeting each term, plus one for each committee (we have 2 committees, Finance & Strategic planning, you may sit on one or both). But there may be other meetings if emergencies arise.

The governors may be involved in situations such as parents' complaints against the school (I've mediated in one of these), and pupils exclusions, and head-teacher's appraisals and salary reviews. You need to be prepared to take that on-board.

Governors are also involved in Ofsted inspections (that was fun).

It is VERY rewarding, sometimes the meetings can be fairly frustrating, while also being interesting, and can take over your life if you are not careful.

But having said all that, I would recommend it, providing you think you have the stamina.

clumsymum Thu 10-Sep-09 12:05:11

Oh yes, we have had to deal with several staff appointments too over the past 3 years.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 10-Sep-09 12:07:40

I've been a governor for a number of years now. Normally, as well as attending meetings of the full governing body, you will be placed on a committee (often there are two sub-committees, finance and curriculum and sometimes premises as well, depending on how the school likes to do things). Very often, the real work is done on the committees - basically setting policies, overseeing school finances, making decisions about future spending etc and then ratified at full governors meetings.
Our governing body tends to have four full GB meetings a year and possibly up to five or six meetings of each committee depending on what's happening. You may also sit on disciplinary panels, take part in working groups and depending on the school, sit on interview panels for new staff (I do a lot of this). You will probably also be given a class or curriculum area to link with and probably visit once a year. Then there are training sessions...
There are always a few governors who turn up for full GB meetings and nothing else, a few who turn up for the opening of the HT's post every morning and the majority somewhere in between.
I have got a lot out of it over the past few years and thoroughly recommend doing it.

wannaBe Thu 10-Sep-09 12:08:49

And you could potentially have to deal with disciplinaries as well..

Bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 10-Sep-09 12:15:53

Thank you all very very helpful. I think I want to do it still, I am just going to make sure my dh is aware that it is a big commitment and I need his support as well.

catinthehat2 Thu 10-Sep-09 12:26:56

Practical point, find out now when the meetings and committee meetings take place so that you can work out where to park the DC or even if it is possible for you to attend meetings. 6pm on a Wednesday is a different kettle of fish to 10am Saturday, and Governores meetings often tend to happen at the same time of day for that school.

pop1973 Thu 10-Sep-09 12:29:47

You must be prepared to attend the meetings as they will take part often in the evenings when other governors are able to attend. Depends on the head how often you will have to meet and what your role will entail.

The Head will welcome you if they have a role free on the governing body. You might find that the school can't get enough governors as it isn't always a job everyone wants.

Good luck

Niecie Thu 10-Sep-09 12:31:30

Bigmouth - on your application statement talk up your work with policies relating to children and, if you have any, other ways in which you are involved in the community. For example, I helped to run the local toddler group. Not a huge thing but it shows a certain commitment to issues relating to children iyswim. Transport is often a big issues for schools.

We had 4 applicants for 3 vacancies and it struck me that although the unsuccessful candidate had done a lot of things like toddler groups and running a creche but she didn't really mention her working life or relevant qualifications, which the rest of us did so I am wondering if people found her a bit lacking in depth. Being a governor requires a certain professionalism so your working life is a good way of illustrating that you are capable of that.

Also stress that you are in it for the long haul - the school will be a big part of your life for many years to come and that you want the best education possible for all the children not just your own.

Good luck. You might well be lucky and just get selected automatically because there aren't enough applicants which I hear is quite often the case. Wish it was for me I had never run for election on anything before and it was a little nerve wracking!

Bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 10-Sep-09 14:52:42

I haven't run any playgroups or whatever since leaving work I have been entirely occupied with own children - which is why I want to get involved with governing.

I hope to use my skills in helping the school and the community and i have a vested long term interest in this school.

Niecie Thu 10-Sep-09 15:01:32

Last line was spot on for the statement! Good luck.smile

(You are going to do it, aren't you?)

Bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 10-Sep-09 15:07:47

Thank you Niceie I will be using that in the statement.

I will go for it (nothing ventured etc.)smile

UnquietDad Thu 10-Sep-09 15:07:50

Talk about how well you know the school and the kids, etc., in your application. In my experience the people who bang on about all the committees they have sat on and the organisational skills they have acquired through work tend to scream Wankdom and don't get elected.

For good or ill, as in School Council, people tend to elect the candidates who are the most popular rather than those best "qualified" to get the job done.

Bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 10-Sep-09 15:11:51

Yes UQD I am sure you are right there is an element of popularity contest in schools where there are plenty of people willing/ able to take the role on. Which is where I fall down as I tend to turn up at school gates last minute trailing bags and children and too busy chasing dd too schmooze the ubermothers!!

Still if I don't get in this year then I can work on a campaign for the next opportunity

Bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 10-Sep-09 15:14:28

which reminds me I have a ds to pick up and dd is covered in beetroot juice and wearing a fairy outfit so that will impress em!

UnquietDad Thu 10-Sep-09 15:49:32

Last time we had a governor election, our school published the raw results - exactly how many votes each person had gained! Bit tough on the chap in last place (out of 5) who got 12.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 10-Sep-09 15:51:08

Someone in our school once got two votes UQD. I dread going up for reelection - it's like standing for carnival princess.

Bigmouthstrikesagain Thu 10-Sep-09 16:02:05

Christ I would hate to have the full extent my abject failure published!shock

That seems a bit harsh and unecessary UQD unless the winner had only got 25 votes!

Although if I do need help my dh ran a very successful dirty tricks campaign when running for election at Uni - he will get me starting a rumour that an opponents dd has fruit shoots in her pack lunch...

UnquietDad Thu 10-Sep-09 16:02:20

2 votes - ouch. Them and their husband/wife?

I'd hate seeing the results breakdown. Any less than 15 and it means that, even in your DS/DD's own class, the majority of the parents don't trust you to do it.

llareggub Thu 10-Sep-09 16:08:53

I was an LEA Governor for a while but stood down because the sub-committee meetings were at 7am. The Chair (drive by the HT) would not budge and as I couldn't get childcare at that time it was a real issue for me. So, I definitely suggest you should check out the meeting times first.

It did help me make up my mind not to send my children to that particular school, as the Governing Body came across as being a bit boys club.

LadyGlencoraPalliser Thu 10-Sep-09 16:59:56

7am How appalling! Our meetings are all in the evening

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