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What information do school governors have access to?

(17 Posts)
PumpkinPie9 Fri 09-Sep-16 13:47:59

Eg. Individual children's grades/progress, parent survey responses, personal info. Just wondered as someone i know is going to become a governor and i wondered how much of my dd's info she will be able to look up. (Not that we have anything to hide!)

FlyingFortress Fri 09-Sep-16 13:55:43

In theory there shouldn't be anything at an individual child level. Occasionally I get reports with names on (in error), but I'm looking at trends in groups of children, rather than at individual child level. We would know if she was excluded for more than 5 days, and if you raised a complaint to the Governors then obviously we would also know that. We only see parent survey responses as a whole, we have no idea who has said what.

Governors will go into school and visit classrooms, so may look at books etc, but usually we avoid classes where we know the pupils.

PumpkinPie9 Fri 09-Sep-16 14:09:29

Thanks Flying. That's interesting.

TeenAndTween Fri 09-Sep-16 14:25:29

What flying says sounds about right. DH is a governor and definitely doesn't get access to individual pupil's data.

akkakk Fri 09-Sep-16 14:29:48

Anything and everything about when a child is a) very good - awards / sport for the UK that kind of thing or b) very bad - exclusions / suspensions / etc.

nothing about anything in-between smile

but... can depend on the school and how gossipy the head teacher might be... small school and less confidential head teacher and you probably end up knowing a lot more than you should - big school and you know very little...

governors are also encouraged to be in class at times, so could see your daughter / some work etc. in that context...

but a governor should be able to respect confidentiality and shouldn't even let on to you how much they do / don't know...

Bogburglar75 Fri 09-Sep-16 14:40:05

Parent governor (primary) here. Governors should not know anything about individual pupils' progress, data or circumstances. Your business is the schools strategic direction, not whether little Johnny in class 3 is being a pain or Joe Bloggs in class 5 can't do algebra. Pupils names should never turn up on papers for governors.

Just occasionally as a parent governor something in a report will mean you can work it out. Eg when we look at data on progress of children with SEN in a particular year group it's not rocket science to work out that one of the small number involved is my son smile. If you're talking about secondary this would be less likely as the numbers in groups will be much bigger so individuals get 'lost' in the data.

A governor would still be expected to keep their mouth shut on any such information, and failure to do so would be a serious misdemeanour.

Governors could also get involved if your DD was suspended or permanently excluded, but I hope they would ask governors to be part of the process who didn't know the parents.

Hope that reassures.

PumpkinPie9 Fri 09-Sep-16 14:41:13

Thanks. The mum would already know about any prizes or exclusions as our dds are friends. It's a large comp and the head seems professional. Thanks again

youngestisapsycho Fri 09-Sep-16 14:42:02

I am a school governor in primary school. We are not told anything about individual children. There will be a Head teachers report which may say that a child has been excluded/bullying or racial issues, but no names are ever given out. Same for staff, they can not be individually named or talked about.

bojorojo Fri 09-Sep-16 15:26:40

In a large comprehensive a Governor really would not know anything about an individual child except perhaps for prize-giving, sport achievements and those written about in a news item. In other words, the same as everyone else.

It is likely that even if the Mum became a SEND governor, they would not know about individuals unless the SEND was very obvious, as it can be. But then again, it is obvious to everyone. A governor who knew a student that was excluded should not be on that Exclusion Committee and in order to avoid that, an exclusion committee is drawn from a larger pool of Governors.

It is worth knowing that Governors deal with strategic issues and not individual children. They cannot go into a school and look up children's records but they may be shown their books as part of a learning walk but often a school would avoid showing the governor a book of a child they know - there are plenty of others to choose from. All questionnaires you return should be unnamed and although the data is collected, it is non-attributable. Governors never discuss individual children and are concerned with whole school performance and improvement, not that of an individual child.

Where there is greater difficulty is in very small schools where there is a tight village community. It is much harder for governors, especially parent governors, to be unaware of the children in the cohorts, eg the SEND children, the PP children etc but professionalism and anonymity should be maintained at all times in discussions and minutes.

I am sure your friend will be professional and that the GB are too.

NynaevesSister Fri 09-Sep-16 15:41:30

I am a primary governor. Only once I looked through a book before checking the name and realised it was someone I knew. Otherwise when on learning walks or pupil progress meetings I would excuse myself if a child I knew came up.

When it comes to exclusions only the governor's involved in the panel know the child's name. Other governors are told of the details but no personal information.

I am not the child protection/safeguarding governor and in the ten years I have been a governor for several different schools I have never been given confidential information, not even by accident. I couldn't even tell you if a child had free school dinners or not. Only how many children do for the school.

PumpkinPie9 Fri 09-Sep-16 17:43:27

Thanks all. What is a learning walk?

akkakk Sat 10-Sep-16 07:03:16

It is when a governor wanders around a school, often with the head, to 'learn' what goes on...

It is difficult to be involved at a strategic level if you don't know what takes place on the ground...

It is also worth remembering that while there is a degree of confidentiality, governors have an increasing number of legal responsibilities and in the event of issues with a head could have to step in, there are a number of reasons why they might know confidential information about a child, but all to help child / family / school, there is a general expectation of confidentiality, but that doesn't mean that the governors are divorced from what goes on in the school, nor should they be...

PumpkinPie9 Sat 10-Sep-16 08:24:02

there are a number of reasons why they might know confidential information about a child, but all to help child / family / school

Thanks. What sort of confidential information might they know about a child/family?

Wigeon Sat 10-Sep-16 08:33:35

I've been a school governor and had no access to individual pupil information and no way of "looking anything up" as you ask. I had access to a data system which had anonymised information (numbers of pupils attaining different scores). Even if I'd wanted to snoop (I didn't!) , I have no idea how I could have. I was SEN governor for a bit but had no information at all about individual pupils. Just general info about the school's procedures, how many pupils were on the different levels of support etc (and not what that support consisted of exactly).

The one time I got information about a pupil was when a parent made a complaint about the school in relation to her child with additional needs. I was on the panel to consider her complaint. Clearly I therefore needed to see the nature of her complaint (which was related to the child's needs). But of course in that case the parent explicitly wanted the governors to have these details.

I am not sure what info akkakk is thinking of. I can't think of any circumstances, apart from the complaint.

Wigeon Sat 10-Sep-16 08:39:23

Should have added - our head was really careful not to mention anything to do with individual pupils ever in governor meetings, and individual pupils were certainly never referred to in reports to the governors.

akkakk Sat 10-Sep-16 19:37:04

Depends very much on the school, in the last 15+ years I have been a governor across c. 14 schools (though some of those in 'sets') from pre-prep to primary to secondary, state / public / academy, boarding and day / single-sex and mixed... Every school has a different balance, and the level of knowledge varies from school to school and even within a school from governor to governor...

So a governor who chairs the board may well know more than other governors... In some of those schools there are specific governors with child-protection roles (and bearing in mind that a complaint could be against a staff member, a governor can often be seen as more neutral than the head), some governors may have roles with a specific slant in the school (e.g. I often advise on IT which has lead to my knowing one or two details where there has been misuse of IT in a secondary school), and in some of the very smallest schools (mine have ranged in size from 80+ children to 1,000s) the governors may be far more involved than in a school with a substantial and experienced senior management team. Governors may also be in a staff room when children are discussed... Discussions of a sensitive nature shouldn't take place then, but they do...

The key points though are:
- confidentiality is as expected from a governor as it is from staff
- governors see information relevant to their role (as do staff)
- governors have no ability to just rummage through information randomly

The days of amateur interfering nosybodies is hopefully on the way out, governors have far more expectation on them with lots more training, and even a move to the ability to pay them, opening the way for professional governors... Certainly Ofsted will now examine and have expectations of governors - which never used to happen...

In theory there should be no issues / concerns

DontCallMeBaby Sat 10-Sep-16 20:12:43

I was a primary governor for eight years, and all the sensitive information I saw was:

- Progress data for vulnerable pupils - yes, very sensitive, but I was seven years in at that point, and trusted implicitly, plus DD was Yr6 and I have no other kids, so my time as a parent was drawing to a close. This was in the context of a HT review, and I was reminded of my duty of confidentiality.
- As a member of the Pay committee, a couple of years back we started seeing staff performance reports. Most had targeted kids' names entirely omitted or reduced to initials. The one that didn't had DD as one of the targeted pupils - slight cock-up, but no harm done, all the kids named I knew had changed set at the same time, so no surprise.

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