Trying to decide whether to become a school governor
July 16, 2017 1:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm in the process of becoming a school governor for a primary school in the UK. School has some problems. I've attended some meetings and had discussions but have not submitted my application yet. I'm concerned about the amount of time and stress being a governor could involve. Talking to governors at other schools, I've had different views of what they do (eg whether they carry out monitoring visits). If you have experience of being a school governor in the UK, what has it involved for you? What has gone well and what less well?

I've seen the question about school boards in the US, which is interesting but about a different set-up.
posted by paduasoy to Education (2 answers total)
I was a community governor for a junior school for a four year term.

We had a strong and effective headmaster, and an experienced head of governors, which I think made a positive difference in the effectiveness of the governing body.

I hope I was a useful contributor, but it was hard work and a little stressful, so I stepped down when my term was up.

We generally sat on two sub-committeees each, plus I was named governor for children who were looked after and chair of a subcommittee, which meant that I did attend one facility visit a year.

Happy to tell you more on memail.
posted by mgrrl at 2:54 AM on July 16

I've been a governor of a primary for around 8 years and I've found it rewarding and not too demanding in terms of time or stress. During the time I've been doing it I've been involved in hiring a new head teacher, rebuilding the school website, and managing the transition to a new chair of governors (I'm now vice chair). Most recently we had to make some staff redundant, which was difficult, but it was rewarding to be able to help the school leadership through that process - we were able to reach voluntary redundancy agreements to achieve the savings we needed. Next up is doing some due diligence on whether we should expand the school, which would probably involve joining a local MAT.

How much work is involved in a given school depends hugely on how well the school is doing now, and how strong the existing school leadership, including the governing body is. If things are in reasonable shape you can probably slot in without taking on too much work - maybe 2-3 meetings per term plus some background reading on whatever is going on in the school and gradually take on more if you have the time.

Most schools need more governors, particularly if you have skills that are relevant to them - finance, legal, HR, or IT in particular. So if you can contribute to something, I think you should definitely consider the role. However, given the environment in education today, the school will almost certainly face hiring and retention issues, financial pressures, and possibly academization pressure, so expect that you will find yourself responsible for some serious decisions that affect your community.

If the school is in serious difficulties you could find the role becoming very demanding - the best person to get a feel for this is the current chair. I would think twice about joining a governing body as a new governor in those circumstances - every school has some problems, but a school in crisis is not a good place to put your toe in the water.

Happy to discuss more on memail.
posted by crocomancer at 11:50 AM on July 16 [1 favorite]

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