Being a Parent Governor

It was the Spring term Governor’s meeting last night and so it meant me returning to school after work for a 5.30 start. This is now my second 3- year term as a Governor, a post that I was happy to renew. My view initially was that it was a useful way to find out more about what is going on behind the scenes of Joshua’s school. Then when I was asked if I would become a Parent Governor, I thought that if I wanted Joshua to stay there until he was 19 then I ought to have some input, to try to make it the best school that I could, both for my son and his peers.

I will not lie, I found it confusing at first as there is so much jargon in education and so it was pretty myseterious to me initially. But gradually, with termly meetings and by asking ‘silly questions’, which nobody minds answering, I learnt to speak their language. In the early days, it was simply a listening project. I have gradually found my fellow Governors less intimidating and I now recognise that it is invaluable that they have the input of parents, as we have a unique perspective. They may have studied the theory of special educational needs but we are actually the experts, as we have lived with it 24/7. That personal experience of sleepless nights, tantrums in the shops, feeding complications, medication etc. is invaluable and it needs to be represented in the management of the school.

As a minimum commitment, Parent Governors are required to attend three evening meetings a year, one per term. That is the least you need to do as you first join the Governing Body. That is not too onerous but then you are asked to join various committees which are additional meetings and you are expected to attend training too. I have volunteered to get involved in recruitment, disciplinary issues and also the performance review of the Headteacher.

For me personally, there are several perks of being on the Governing Body :

  • I have really enjoyed sitting on the interviewing panel when new school posts are created. It has been a privilege to see the immense effort that staff go to, even for internal promotions, and to see just how much it means. I have been able to influence the staffing of the school, always holding in my mind, would I want this teacher/Teaching assistant in Joshua’s class? That gives me a powerful perspective that is unique on the panel and with that insight, I am confident we have made some great appointments
  • Joshua’s school staff have always teased me about my status as a Governor as it is often mentioned in a humourous way : a new member of staff bumped into me with Joshua’s wheelchair, she was teased mercilessly that not only had she crashed into a parent but she was a Governor too! I still see her around school now an she always laughs and cringes . During one early Annual Review, Joshua’s teacher called me his ‘boss’ which confused me at first. It does hold some sway within school and it gives me somewhere to voice my concerns and opinions
  • Joshua’s school became an academy and being on the Governing Body, I had a much clearer understanding of what it meant and how it would impact. When the school has had OFSTED inspections, I have had detailed feedback on the outcome. They say that information is power and if that is the case, then I have been made to feel more powerful within the school
  • Finally I feel that I have made some friends within the Governing Body. There are opportunities to chat before the meeting, but I suggested that we go out for a pub tea after the meeting, and we did that for the second time last night. It is an opportunity to relax, chat and eat and to get to know my fellow Governors better and to make it a more sociable occasion. I hope that that practice will continue.

I am proud School Governor and I have begun attending parent events – I have provided the refreshments at both the Junior and Senior Open Mornings, introducing myself as ‘their parent governor’ so that they know who I am.  I hope that in doing this, alongside my Parent Coffee Mornings, that other parents will begin to feel able to approach me with any concerns that they may have, so that I can bring their views to the attention of the Head and the Governing Body, if necessary.

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