Newest Review: ... I have been teaching in a primary school for 3 years now and absolutely love it. I have done 1 year in Year 1 and 2 years in Year 2. ... more
Primary School Teachers
Member Name: David J. Rogers
Primary School Teachers
Date: 25/04/02, updated on 25/04/02 (3252 review reads)
Advantages: So many
Disadvantages: Big responsibility, Time
If you feel this opinion is in the wrong category please do not down rate it for that… there is no better place for it as yet. Thanks.
>>Request is now in for school governor category<<
I have been a school governor, both at primary level and at secondary level, for some 13 odd years now and enjoy it tremendously. At primary level I have been the chair of governors for all but 6 months of my time there. I feel that school governors offer a service to schools that is on par with, as well as complimentary to, a teacher, hence the area I have placed this opinion.
I first thought about becoming a school governor while my children were at primary school, soon after my accident that left me disabled. I felt that there must be something I could still do that would be of use to someone and offer something to the community where I live. I was very aware that I would not work again but at the age of 38 sure as heck didn’t feel, or accept, I had no use anymore. This is when I read a letter, sent home from the school, asking for nominations for parent governors. I knew little of the role, my only real knowledge of it was from my school days where they were people we considered VIP visitors that walked around the school once in a while, and to some degree that is still how many see them. I happen to feel this is okay because the role of a governor is not to get noticed, or to be seen as something or someone special, it is to help in any way you can. Of course there are still some people that have the title of “school governor” because it sits well on their CV or sounds right when chatting among friends, but, thank goodness, this kind of person is now in the small minority.
As I say I see this role as one of support and help but, due to added powers, handed down by government, the role is fast becoming
more and more like a job, or profession, and the responsibility levels have grown every year. Indeed it is the governing body at all schools that is now the employer, or the schools named authority. Despite handing much of this responsibility down to the head teacher it is the governors themselves that are now asked to answer for many of the problems we read about day after day. It is also the governing body that has the job of interviewing, employing and accounting for the head and deputy head teachers in the school, a very important factor in any school. Of course it is the head teacher that runs the school day to day but it is the governing body that is held to account if they get it wrong, despite being the only non paid, generally unqualified, people within the system. This makes the role very important and, to some degree, unattractive too. There are massive shortages of governors around the country now and I feel it is because of the weight of responsibility laid on them. Long gone have the days where you were only asked to attend sports days, assemblies and special events, now it is a case of attending quite a lot of meetings that tend to run on for 2 or 3 hours sometimes. The governing body also has a very major part to play when a school is inspected, by OFSTED or such, and in planning the future following this.
However there are many good things that come from being a governor too. I started, as I say, because it was something I saw I could do but soon became captivated by the warmth that is felt inside a happy school. The team spirit that runs within the teachers, the desire to learn that the children have, the strength that the parents show when supporting their school and the way the a school stretches out to the community around it. There is no doubt that the feeling you get inside a school is special, something that is hard to explain but is wonderful to feel and be a part of. Despite everything we read teachers are as dedicated today as th
ey ever were, many, indeed most, spend many hours, of their own time, working with the children outside of school lesson. This same dedication is present among all the other staff that a school needs to run too, assistants, dinner ladies, cooks, caretakers etc. and certainly among governors.
The main role of a governor is still one of support, a role that can help ease some of the pressure placed on staff by added paperwork, policy making and budget planning and to this end the role can be very satisfying. In both the schools where I am a governor the staff make me feel very much part of the team, and very much a part of the school and because of this I find I feel wanted, of worth and useful. Many say the role of a governor is as a “critical friend”, I feel this is not the right description. I feel it is a role of a friend, a partner or an ear to listen and offer suggestions. I certainly feel that unless everyone feels comfortable with each other then there is never going to be anything constructive. Therefore the first thing I feel any governor must do is respect the fact that the staff at the school are the professionals and work with them, learn from them and never assume a role above them. There is a great deal a school governor can help with but there are also very fine lines between helping and instructing. I also believe that as a school governor the staff should be certain of your support, no matter what. If things go wrong then they need to be righted but that should be done privately. I have found that I want to support, protect and guard those I am lucky enough to help and even when things have to be said, things that could normally be confrontational they get said, and sorted in a friendly way.
Here are just some of the things governors are expected to answer for, or do….
Interview and appoint the Head and Deputy Head teachers.
Assist the head in appointing their staff.
Assist and approve all school polici
es, and there are a great number of these.
Assure that discipline among the children and staff is dealt with.
Assure that the national curriculum is taught.
Prepare and approve the schools budget.
Visit the school and observe classes in action.
Keeping the buildings and grounds maintained.
Dealing with any staffing matters relating to discipline.
And the list goes on forever, literally. Of course there are advisers that can be brought in, but also have to be paid for from the budget, which helps ensure all the legal requirements are met. But even this can be fun and rewarding, if a tad boring. You see, despite offering to do all of this, for free, there are a great many things that help you forget that last meeting that ran on forever. Things like hearing a child laugh, seeing children playing together, watching a school play where even the quietest of child speaks out with great confidence. Sitting in a classroom and watching the look of joy on a child’s face when they suddenly understand what it is the teacher is saying, seeing their chest puff with pride as they answer a math question right. On top of that there is the feeling when a teacher says thank you for everything you do. A feeling that sends a warm feeling deep inside your heart, a feeling that says, ”Yes I am helping” “Yes I am making a difference” and the feeling that says “I am enjoying being a small part of all of this.” You see helping others while not looking for, or expecting, any reward is, in itself, rewarding.
By being a governor at both levels of education I get to see the follow up from primary to secondary, I get to watch the children grow, from a 5yr old child into a 16yr old young adult. I get to see the benefit of everything and I know our education system works. I would urge anyone that might be thinking of becoming a governor to go for it. Maybe ask to attend a meeting or two first and see what really goe
s on after school closes to the children. Being a governor really does benefit the children in our schools today and despite all the responsibility and time it really is a special thing to do.
There are several types of governors, as far as they come from, or are appointed by, different agencies or groups. There are parent governors, they are voted on to the board by the parents alone. There are co-opted governors; these tend to be local business people, or people working in specialist areas, that are appointed by the board. There are governors appointed by the local education authority and there are also governors that are appointed by the local council, churches and by the staff. No matter where they are appointed from they all have one thing in common, they are doing it because they want to and they all want to do the best they can to make sure every child gets the best education possible.
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