Being a Governor
What do governors do?
All schools must have a Governing Board which is usually made up of a mix of parent governors who have been elected, staff, local authority governors and members of the local community. Each individual governor is a member of the Governing Board and they cannot act independently - decisions taken are a joint responsibility.
The role of the Governing Board is a strategic one with three key functions:
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
- Holding the Headteacher(s) to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils; and
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
As well as attending regular Governing Board meetings, a governor may also have responsibility for a specific area such as staffing, curriculum, finance, premises and communication. In addition a governor may also have oversight of a specific aspect of learning within the curriculum.
Governors are very much part of the whole school team and are therefore involved in the shaping of the future vision and annual plans for the school.
What else does a governor do?
As well as contributing to the strategic discussions at Governing Board meetings, a governor will also need to:
- Get to know the school well, including visiting the school during school hours and gaining a good understanding of the school’s strength’s and weaknesses;
- Attend induction training and other regular training and development events;
- Attend meetings of both the full Governing Board and committee meetings where appropriate;
- Read all the papers before any meetings and be able to understand and interpret the data provided;
- Act in the best interests of all the pupils of the school; and
- Behave in a professional manner, including acting in strict confidence.
What don’t governor’s do?
A governor does not get involved in the operational side of school life, the Head Teacher(s) are responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the school . For example a governor would not:
- Write school policies;
- Undertake audits of any sort, even if the governor has the relevant professional experience;
- Spend much time with the pupils of the school (if you want to work directly with children there are many other voluntary valuable roles in the school);
- Fundraise (this is the role of the PTA);
- Undertake classroom observations to make judgements on the quality of teaching;
- Do the job of school staff.
What skills do I need to be a governor?
You don’t need any formal qualifications to be a school governor. The Governing Board is made up of a wide range of people who have a good mix of different skills – some may spend time in school looking at curriculum, emotional well-being and safety whilst others, with professional or commercial experience, may spend time covering areas such as finance, communications and personnel. The common skill to all governors is that they take a keen interest in the children and the school and are prepared to get involved with school life at every level.
How much time commitment is involved in being a governor?
You should not underestimate the amount of time it takes to be an effective governor. As well as attending meetings (which may be held in the evening), governors are also expected to spend time in school during the day and to support school association events. As a rule of thumb governor’s should be spending the equivalent of 10 to 20 working days per year on governor business although more may be required at certain times, such as during recruitment or Ofsted visits.
What will I gain from being a school governor?
Whilst being a school governor can be challenging and time consuming, most governors will tell you that it is also one of the most rewarding experiences they have had.
As well as gaining new skills, governors have a real opportunity to positively support their school and gain a real sense of satisfaction through knowing that children will benefit from their efforts. Working as part of a successful team, governors will also have the opportunity to gain an understanding of, and experience in, areas such as finance, target setting and strategic planning as well as gaining an awareness of the education system as a whole.
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