What is a parent governor?
Parent governors are an integral part of a school’s Governing Body. The position is voluntary (so it is unpaid, although you may occasionally be able to claim back expenses for things like childcare and travel). The role, whilst “behind the scenes” and has little interaction with the pupils or with daily school life, it is essential in upholding the values and ethos of the school and an opportunity to make a positive impact on children’s education and school life.
As well as parent governors, there are other governors on the full governing body – see Governing Body Priestley Smith Specialist School for more information about the Governing Body and the sub committees.
What do parent governors do?
Parent governors bring with them a wealth of experience and knowledge, which contributes to the successful running of their child’s school. Decisions made by the board influence the whole school, but governors are not responsible for, or involved in, the day-to-day running of the school. The role is a necessary part of ensuring the good functioning and accountability of school leadership. Governors set the ethos of the school and support the drive for continuous improvement. Governors are also responsible for overseeing the financial performance of the school and ensuring money is well-spent. Governors commission the head teacher and other school leaders to act on their behalf in putting their ideas into practice, and they ensure that the school leadership is held to account in doing so.
What responsibility and influence do parent governors have?
It is the Board of Governors’ role to:
Appoint the head teacher
Appoint the deputy head teacher
Hold the school leadership to account
Ensure school staff have training, support and resources to be effective
Maintain oversight of the school’s budget spending, including pupil premium allocation
Decide on the aims, strategy, vision and ethos of the school
Determine ways to put all of the above into practice as part of the school development plan
Hear the later stages of pupil exclusion appeals or staff grievances
Responsibility does not rest with any one individual. Decisions are made by the Governing Body as a whole, and individual governors are not held to account for collective decisions.
Is being a parent governor a huge commitment?
Governors serve a term of office which is usually four years, which may extend beyond their child’s time at the school if their child graduates or changes school during the four-year period. As a governor you would be expected to attend and contribute thoughts and ideas to the governing board’s meetings and any additional committees you commit to.
The full governing body meets at least four times a year, and sub committees meet in addition to these dates. You would also be expected to visit the school as part of your duties in order to monitor and evaluate as you gain understanding for your role as well as undertake training for the role through the Local Authority (LA)
You may also be invited to school events such as sports days to increase the visibility of the governing body to parents and represent your school to the community. Under current employment law, employers must allow employees to undertake their duties at school, but this may be paid or unpaid, so speak to your employer and find out what their policy is.
You may resign at any time by giving written notice to the clerk on your board of governors.
What skills do parent governors need?
As long as you are over 18 years of age and have a child at the school you can express an interest in becoming a parent governor for the school. There is no specific skill set! Just a desire to improve the life chances of the children in the school. It is up to the governing body to assess any parent wishing to act as a governor has the relevant skills and experience to govern effectively and contribute to the success of the school. There’s also a legal requirement for parents to be DBS checked before starting their post as a governor.
Why would I want to be a parent governor?
It’s an opportunity to learn new skills and work with others to help to develop useful policies that will benefit the education of children. The role may sound formal, but governors play a vital role in the running of the school and most people enjoy their time as a governor. It is also an opportunity to show loyalty to the school. You may also progress to being a chair, which brings added responsibility. The experiences of school governorship look great on any CV, and may even create career opportunities.
In addition you will also get to know your child’s school, especially in terms of its strengths and weaknesses. You will gain a great understanding of how the school is run, and this will have a positive effect on your child’s education, academic outcomes and school life.
How do you become a parent governor?
If you are interested in becoming a parent governor, speak to your school’s chair of governors or express your interest through application form or introductory email.
What about conflicts of interest?
It is essential that governors can be objective. Parent governors must promote the best interests of all children at the school, and have a duty to maintain good relations with and be available to the other parents. Parent governors should not use committee meetings to raise issues affecting their own child at the expense of others. They can withdraw from meetings where they are concerned that they could not be impartial, or would stand to gain by the outcome of a resolution.