What is a school governor?
What does a school governor do?
✩ set aims and objectives for the school;
✩ adopt policies for achieving those aims and objectives;
✩ set targets for achieving those aims and objectives; and
✩ review progress towards achieving the aims and objectives.
That sounds like so much official rot, I know, so here's an example of how that works in practice. Let's say the aim is that all children should have as close to full attendance as possible, to ensure they're making the most of their education. The objective, then, is to lower the number of unauthorised absences. To help achieve this you adopt attendance policies, perhaps drawn up from scratch, more likely supplied by the LEA (Local Education Authority) or similar body. Based on the policy you will then set a target, remembering that Estyn (or relevant inspectorate) will want to see you being both aspirational and realistic. To review progress, you would then see the latest figures on a regular basis, and go back through the target setting process annually.
Just this week it has been headline news that, in Wales, it is unlawful to put a blanket ban on term time holidays. Many LEAs and governing bodies had put one in their policies though, and lots of parents will now be appealing the fixed penalty notices they were given as a result. What the headlines seem to have ignored is that getting that absence authorised is still up to headteacher discretion, and you can be sure the LEA and the governing body will be advising they use that power sparingly. Ten days absence brings a pupil's attendance down to 94.7%, not an Estyn pleasing figure.
This whole business might have you asking,
What happens when you get things wrong?
Now your worries have been alleviated, you might be thinking,
Okay, what does being a school governor involve?
You will also need to undergo training. In Wales, at minimum, you need to do a governors' induction session, and one on understanding school data. There will be plenty of other sessions on too, looking at topics like school health and safety, corporate parenting, and chairing skills. Most LEAs still insist on people attending physical training sessions, because e-learning is (apparently) a mystical concept.
If you're less confident about it all, or simply have less time to spare, go for a primary school governing body. They tend to be much smaller, have less to deal with in terms of exam results and other issues, and you get to sit on those little tiny chairs again. It does make it a bit weird when you get the inevitable invites to prize evening, school plays, choral events, etc - unless you're a teacher, childless adults are probably always going to feel out of place at a primary nativity!
|As a school governor you'll be in good company - even Draco Malfoy's dad, Lucius, took time out from being evil to take Dumbledore to task over his questionable record on student welfare.|
What do I get out of it?
I'm sold. Where do I sign up?
✩ Observer Governors. This might be a member of the SLT who sits in to give extra information, even though they lack voting rights.
✩ Associate Governors. These are often current pupils who have no voting rights, and are excluded from confidential issues (e.g. staffing), but are nevertheless invited along to meetings to give a voice to the student body.
The more likely routes are:
✩ Foundation / Partnership / Sponsor Governors. These are appointed by a funding body, if the school has one - e.g. the diocese for a church school.
✩ Staff Governors. This is the primary route in for teachers and paid school staff, who are elected to vacancies by their colleagues.
✩ Co-opted aka Community Governors. Members of the local community co-opted by the governing body. These might be retired teachers, teachers from other schools, former pupils, or anyone else deemed suitable. (For Torfaen, email the EAS - Education Achievement Service - at email@example.com if you're interested in becoming a community governor.)
✩ Authority aka LEA Governors. These are governors appointed by the local authority - principally elected councillors. If you're interested in becoming an authority governor, contact your local council.
✩ Parent Governors. What it says on the tin. In many ways this is the hardest route in as these are elected positions. When a vacancy comes up you put your name down and charm / bribe other parents into voting for you. (Note - you may not stand as a parent governor if you're an elected councillor or work at the school for more than 500 hours pa.)
Take the plunge - it's easier than you think!
Are you / have you thought about becoming a school governor?
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