What is it like to be a governor?
A governor’s role is varied and challenging, and no two governors will have exactly the same experiences. However, we share one governor’s experience here to give a flavour of the types of activities and responsibilities that the role can involve:
Nargis Hafeez, Parent governor at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls
“As a governor, there are certain meetings that I have to attend every half term. These are the full governing body meeting, and also meetings for the committee to which I belong.
Many governors are also link governors for certain areas. I am link governor for Data and Achievement; my role is to look at the data that shows pupils’ performance. The first term after results is extremely busy as I have to really understand the results of the public exams and see if we have achieved as expected. I arrange a meeting with the school expert, Rebecca, and after an hour of going through the figures with her I feel confident that I can explain what has happened to my fellow governors.
At the teaching and learning committee the following week I help in the discussions to identify which subjects have not performed as well as hoped so that we can identify any issues which may exist and suggest ways to rectify them.
The next week I prepare my report which will be submitted to the full Governing body. This highlights the key areas where we need to take action, identifies consequences of measures put in place over the previous year. The Governing body meeting lasts two hours during which we discuss results, check on whether the budget is on track and how to apply for some capital funding, and decide how best to work with the Senior management team on setting the School development plan for next year. Policies were reviewed as part of ongoing schedule of review.”
Nargis says: “As my daughters joined AGGS, I was keen to contribute positively to our wonderful school.
With a background in education, I enjoy my role as a school governor making important decisions affecting the pupils progress and development and ensuring the highest standards are maintained. In this way I hope that I am playing my part in shaping the bright future of our children.”
What does a Chair do?
Alan Foster, Chair of Gorton Mount Primary Academy, shares his experiences:
“As a Chair, I have responsibility for the overview, good running and effectiveness of my Local Governing Body (LGB). The LGB must assess the strengths and weaknesses of the school, challenge appropriately, ensure adequate policies are in place and are adhered to, and develop a School Development Plan to ensure that the school meets the BFET vision.
An additional part of the Chair role is developing a relationship with the Principal which is both supportive and challenging, chairing LGB meetings and liaising with BFET to understand their perspective and vision, and feedback issue arising in my school as necessary.
The new year of 2014-15 will be very exciting for our school as we are having a new school building built. We are also expanding our pupil numbers so there will be changes to take into account.”
This term’s typical activities will include
- A catch up meeting with the Principal
- Meeting our Director of Education to review progress of our three year plan
- Two full GB meetings
- Visits to local residents – this will be of particular importance this year due to the building work
- An informal visit to the school to follow up areas of governor interest.
Why Principals value governors
“I am fortunate to have a skilled group of governors who understand how organisations work, understand leadership and management and have the imagination to work out how schools work. I enjoy the debate and challenge they bring to the table and value the compassion, drive and commitment with which they push for improvements for our children. They have brought a freshness, rigour and energy to my work and have helped me to develop my own thinking.”
Carol Powell – Gorton Mount Primary Academy
It is my belief that in order to have Governors that are able to effect positive school development and tackle underperformance, we as Principals must be pro active as reflective leaders. An effective Chair and Governing Body should know the difference between a ‘reason’ and an ‘excuse’ and will operate in a ‘high challenge – high support’ way. I am fortunate to have a close, open and professional relationship with my Governing Body who listen, support and challenge in equal measure.
Jane Bailey – South Shore Academy