Becoming a school governor
What do the governors do?
Our governing board is made up of elected parents, members of the local community, a member of teaching staff and the Headteacher. There are seventeen positions and further non-voting ‘associate governors’ may be appointed on an annual basis to meet specific requirements.
Governing Boards have three core functions and individual governors have responsibilities for monitoring many different aspects of school life, including safeguarding, staffing, curriculum, special educational needs, finance, health and safety, and training.
What skills do I need to have to be a governor?
The most important attribute is a real passion for improving the outcomes for all of our children and the ability to input at a strategic level to the work of the school. The responsibility for the day to day management of the school lies with the Headteacher, not the Governing Board. However in order to fulfil their obligations effectively is important for governors to be able to see and understand what is going on in the classroom and understand the impact of curriculum and pastoral matters, as well as having oversight for financial, legal, personnel issues.
The governing body is made up of a wide range of people, some with the ability to spend time in the school on a regular basis looking at curriculum, emotional and safety issues, and some with professional or commercial experience in certain areas such as finance, legal, communications and personnel. All share the same vital ingredient – a keen interest in the children and the school.
How much time commitment is involved in being a governor?
Each governor joins a sub-committee which meets three times a year and the full governing body which meets four times a year. Meetings are held at 7:30-9:30pm. Throughout the course of the year governors are expected to spend up to two half days in school to carry out monitoring or panel work.
Do I have to commit to a long period of time?
Governors are appointed for a four year term which may be renewed thereafter. We have introduced a mentoring scheme to support your induction and the local authority provide high quality training and guidance for governors. It takes a while to learn the ropes and in the course of the four years you will acquire the knowledge and skills needed and be able to make a significant contribution to our work.
Can I get involved in areas of interest to me, or would I be assigned responsibilities?
There are many aspects of the school the governors have monitoring responsibility for, and it always makes sense to allow the governors to use the skills they have or play a part in the specific areas they have a keen interest. In addition, there are likely to be areas where we would encourage governors to take oversight in order to get a fuller all round understanding of the governor responsibilities. New governors are given the opportunity to see the work of both committees and discuss their assignment.
I work full-time and cannot get into school during the day, can I still get involved?
We have a number of governors who find it difficult to spend much time in school during the school day, but make efforts to do so when they can. The minimum commitment is for two half days a year. Many companies will have a policy to encourage voluntary or community work and may allow some time off for these duties.
I cannot commit to evenings, can I be involved during the school day?
Some governors have more time in the school day which enables them to see much more how the school is operating, how the children are developing, for monitoring and to serve on in school panels e.g appeals or pay committee. Their time provides invaluable input to the governing body in identifying needs and shaping the future.
Governors do need to be able to commit to make the majority of the seven evening meetings that occur throughout the year as this is where the important discussions and decisions take place.
Is there much preparation needed before meetings?
There is normally a few hours of preparatory work ahead of each meeting. In between meetings, there will be a range of other work to do e.g. monitoring, discussions and training. The work is shared out amongst the governors and scheduled at the start of the year to aid planning.
Can I come along to a meeting to see what happens?
The meetings are publicised and are open meetings. If you were considering becoming a governor, then it would be possible to come along to one of the meetings.
Will I receive training as a new governor?
We receive a lot of support in terms of training from the local authority, which starts with a general induction process. In addition, any new governor would normally spend some time with the Headteacher and we have a mentoring system for new governors.
Is there any financial help available?
The governor role is a voluntary one, so the governing body cannot provide compensation for, say, loss of earnings. It does, however, have an expenses policy for items such as baby-sitting costs and travel for meetings and training courses outside of Sevenoaks.