Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

School governor

(9 Posts)
Mishap Mon 23-Jan-12 15:50:54

I have been invited to consider being a school governor at the village primary.

I was once briefly a governor at a secondary school, and helped out as clerk to the governors of the village primary school, so am not completely out of touch with this role. At the time when I was clerking there seemed to be an ever-increasing workload on the governors - I know I spent a lot of time researching policies that needed to be ratified, and there seemed to be more and more of them by the minute!

However, I do think that things have changed in recent years and would be interested to hear from anyone who has up-to-date experience.

JessM Mon 23-Jan-12 15:52:23

Mishap I will respond at length later, but I MUST do some work...

eGJ Mon 23-Jan-12 16:33:49

It is rewarding, but a lot more if your time and energy is required these days. The policies are even longer and every minute area has one! The governor's meetings proliferate and unless there is an extremely good chair are extremely lengthy. Your county/diocese may have courses you are expected to attend, not neccessarily a worthwhile use of time.That's the negative side, but the chance to give back to your village community outweighs those negatives; to be part of a village school and to be a welcome member of the whole school (assuming the school wants you there - some don't) is really worth the time spent wading through some of the ridiculous documentation. I'd go for it Mishap!

Jacey Mon 23-Jan-12 16:36:26

Mishap ...the work load pretty much depends on the type of head you will be supporting.

My last one was a control freak and 'ruled' by never letting the left hand know what the right hand was doing. They reduced the number of full governors' meetings ...but had lots of little sub-committees that met once a month ...each governor was only on one. They also changed governor visits in ... a teacher would be summoned to do a presentation to that committee the governors rarely saw the actual school 'working'. sad

However ...other heads are much more open and you can do as much or as little as you want ...actively encouraging visits to support staff and pupils when the school is 'working'...especially of you have a skill to offer. sunshine

It can be a bit 'hit and miss' ...but given the right atmosphere, a super way to put something back into the community.

I would suggest a chat with the head of the school, one with the head of the Governoring Body and any other governor get a good feel for the responsibilty ...because it is a responsiblity, but a very rewarding

JessM Mon 23-Jan-12 17:13:44

Ok that covers it - depends on what kind of head and GB you are joining. If they have got their act together v different to if they have not. Ask to see their policies file - does it look like it is regularly updated. Sorry should say files - we have about 3 big lever arch files worth. But LEA should be providing the essential ones.
Observe a couple of meetings too before signing up. They should not go on and on. i always start mine on time and they are very rarely more than an hour and a half.
In a primary governors can be more involved in things like interviews because the head does not have a management team around them.
Generally I have found being a chair of govs very rewarding.
Another point though is that many schools are being strong armed into becoming academies. Mr Gove is on a mission. This is undermining the role of governor or even removing it. So ask about this.
An alternative way to help may be to become a reading volunteer or something like that.

eGJ Mon 23-Jan-12 17:50:35

Agree about volunteering to hear readers; they are invaluable. They are called "reading Mummies" or reading Grannies" in my GS's school. As a teacher it was a splendid link with the community; lots of people of all ages came into school and then became involved as helpers on trips as they knew the children by name. Also having grandparent aged adults in school had value both ways; many children did not have regular contact with this age group, so we both won! I wish you had been my chair of governors JessM; I've had a few "chairs" in my time and the majority ran rather loosemeetings, allowing side conversations. Good for you and your hour & a half!

Butternut Mon 23-Jan-12 18:23:58

Committees were never my thing having participated briefly on a school's governing body. From there I was a member of a PTA, which I also decided was not for me, but spent many happy years hearing children read and running art lessons for those children who were considered 'disruptive' in some classes.
That I thoroughly enjoyed, and think the kids did, too.

JessM Mon 23-Jan-12 18:36:04

Thanks eGJ and welcome. Years of working as a trainer in business prepared me for this. I remember preparing a time management course once and coming across the idea that 1. if you start a meeting late it is discourteous to those who have turned up on time 2. If you add up wasted time of all the people sitting round it is a big waste of productivity.
Also my head gets in about 7am and we are responsible for his work/life balance hmm

eGJ Tue 24-Jan-12 06:52:04

So glad to hear the way you run things; there are lots of chairs of governors who could learn from you! Crawling in the next morning after one of those lengthy meetings was hard and discouteousness seemed far from anyone's mind! Your head should be very grateful to have you.

That aside let us know what you decide Mishap.