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Dear Clare - Time out of class for teacher governors who attend meetings?

Discussion in 'Governors' started by patriciaw56, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. I have been told that it is 'the law' that governors in employment are 'entitled' to reasonable time off work to attend school governing body meetings. Is this true? If so, is it also allowed that teacher governors be given appropriate time out of class in lieu of attendance at long evening meetings? Teachers can be put off putting themselves forward because of workload - and the role is often only taken by SMT members who can see their role as supporting the head.
  2. I have been told that it is 'the law' that governors in employment are 'entitled' to reasonable time off work to attend school governing body meetings. Is this true? If so, is it also allowed that teacher governors be given appropriate time out of class in lieu of attendance at long evening meetings? Teachers can be put off putting themselves forward because of workload - and the role is often only taken by SMT members who can see their role as supporting the head.
  3. Are we talking about someone who is a governor at their own school, or another?
    Time out of class in lieu of evening meetings. I think whoever told you that is seriously yanking your chain.
  4. You are only entitled to time off work if you would otherwise be at work at the time of the meeting, you don't get to treat the meeting as flexi-time and take equivalent time off later on. Many of the rest of us work a full day and then attend evening meetings - I don't have any sympathy with the common view that teachers are a bunch of idlers who don't work a full day, but equally I don't have any sympathy with the idea that it is uniquely dreadful for teachers to have to attend evening meetings.
  5. Hi
    The law does say that you are entitled to ‘reasonable' time off' for your duties, but it does not define ‘reasonable' and time off does not have to be with pay. What is ‘reasonable' has to be agreed with your employer before you take it and will depend on a number of factors.
    Staff governors are volunteers just like any other governor and so there is no entitlement to ‘lieu' time out of the classroom for governing body meetings for staff members.
    Governing bodies determine the time of their meetings and try to do so to suit the majority of their members, bearing in mind that non-staff governors may also work and will have to travel from their place of work to get to school for the meeting. Inevitably it is not always possible to suit everyone so the timing of governing body meetings will be a compromise. I am not sure what you mean by ‘long' meetings as different people will have different interpretations of how long is long. The most effective chairs of governors will have a rough plan in their head before the meeting starts of how long each item should take and chair the meeting accordingly - allowing for the fact that some items will need more discussion than others. Not all governing body meetings start in the evening - some governing bodies will meet just after 4pm.

    Clare Collins

  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    It's true, but the law isn't very relevant to you since your own school/Governing Body's policy will invariably be more generous to you than the legal minimum. Google 'time off for public duties' to find the law - it doesn't require the time off to be paid, although school's policies will almost invariably allow paid time off.
    Being a governor is a voluntary activity. The essence of volunteering is that you freely give up your own time without pay to do something that's worthwhile. If you expect to be motivated to be a governor by not having to give up your time and by being paid for it by the school (because that's what getting time off in lieu would amount to) I think you should reconsider whether you are really suited to be a volunteer governor.
  7. Thank you for that Clare.
    I have grown up children and was parent governor at that school - which held fairly effective governing body meetings. The head was outstanding and there was an appropriate division between her day to day management and the governing body's strategic role.

    The governing body in the school in which I currently work has a history of poor governance - with over involvement of day-to-day management and lack of strategic direction. It is being sorted - but meetings can go on to 11 p.m.; it is known that one sub committee was adjourned at about midnight.
    My concern is that an appropriate teacher governor role cannot be in place in these circumstances. The teacher governor is not fulfilling her role as it should be done - hardly surprising when expected to attend meetings until maybe 11 p.m. and then be at school, as she is, before 8 next morning. Unfortunately, also, these circumstances - which I am sure are not unique - prevent others wanting to come forward to take the role. The school is very small in any case; but I believe teachers are not represented appropriately on the governing body if it becomes a role that only an SMT member will carry out.
  8. I was talking
    (i) about governors, e.g. businessmen, who, as an encouragement to provide business expertise etc. within their community school, either have work schemes which include governance as a sort of 'charity' work and therefore funded time off is given
    (ii) comparing that with a teacher governor who is, actually, also (if they are properly motivated, i.e. not power seeking) being very altruistic. School governance is definitely not part of a teacher's duties. See my response to Clare which refers to the ridiculous length of some governing body meetings at our school.
  9. Your post is pretty offensive against hard working teachers.
    (i) Please see my response to Clare, regarding length of meetings.
    (ii) Please note also
    (a) that I have 20+ years work experience outside the teaching profession before I became a teacher - in work that I had only a month or so of holiday a year, and worked mainly 9 to 5; yet I've never worked as hard for my money as I have as a teacher. Because of my previous work experience I judge myself as slacking if I work less than 8.15 a.m. to 6.00 at school; always have some additional work to do at home - multi-tasking, I admit, as I watch TV ; and aim to have only one free day at week-end.
    (b) that my request for this information is altruistic: as I believe staff views are not being properly represented in a heavily parent-biased governing body, because no-one wants to take on the teacher governor role, or is able to be effective in it, when the length of meetings is so ridiculous.
  10. Firstly, I notice that Knowsmanythings is new to the forum so welcome.
    The original post relates to time off in lieu for teachers and I know of no governors, whether LA, Staff, Community or Parent that gets, or is entitled to, that - certainly not in my region.
    It seems from subsequent posts here though, that the real problem is one of very long meetings running late at night. I have to say that I would find it unacceptable to be in a governors meeting at 11:00pm or anywhere near it. I am deputy chair of a fairly large school with a PAN of 1600 and neither the chair nor I would entertain allowing any meeting, governors or committee, to run over 3 hours. We start our meetings at 4:45pm, a time agreed by all governors, which allows staff members to tie up their day, and other governors to leave work with minimal disruption to a normal working day.
    I am making the assumption that you, Patriciaw56, are not currently a governor at the school in which you work, but feel prevented from becoming one because of the late timing of meetings. Perhaps the best way to change that would be to stand for staff governorship and then work from within to change the timings and maybe even the time management skills of the chair.
  11. Thank you for taking the time with that advice. I think the two main points are (i) that because of past issues there is a fair workload for the governing body and (ii) that as all but a few governors are parents, probably not in employment, they can ensure timings suit them - meetings starting later so that they can be with their children early evening etc. And of course, parents live near to the school, but staff (teacher) governors and headteacher also have to travel some distance home following meetings.
  12. I have to say that I feel quite sorry for you (and your school). I would reiterate though that your GB needs to look introvertly and get its own house in order, before it can meaningfully address the problems that the school has. I assume from your last post that many of the community governors are also parents, and whilst that is not in itself a problem, it can be if the GB does not collectively have the broad spectrum of skills needed to address the issues.
    I have often thought that the one weakness of a largely electoral system for governors can mean that a GB gets what it is given rather than what it needs in terms of skills and experience. That is fine if the GB then has a very effective training programme in place for both new and experienced governors, but all too often that is sadly not the case.
    It is very difficult to influence change from outside of the GB, so I would urge you (and any like minded colleagues) to consider standing for election if not already onboard. That way you at least have a good chance of influencing the GB's internal difficulties as well as helping to address the problems from the past.
    Good luck!
  13. " I assume ... that many of the community governors are also parents"
    You make clear in previous posts that you are a governor of a large school. A single community governor (and often vacant) is the norm in small primaries.
    " if the GB then has a very effective training programme in place for both new and experienced governors"
    The pattern is that parents often see the GB as an alternative role to Parents' Association management! The cycle is of quick turnover as soon as they realise what is actually involved. This is an example of when training 'costs' can be really thrown away.
    There are just not enough 'volunteers' with the skills/capabilities needed to ensure primary school governing bodies are effective. Bearing in mind the pattern of headship qualities in these small primaries too, management direct by the LEA would be more appropriate to support teachers in these schools. That is the opposite of what is happening in secondaries - where large effective appropriately skilled governors can be efficient despite almost independence from the LEA.

  14. I accept your points Knowmanythings, and I was not trying to pretend that there is an easy solution to the situation that Patriciaw56 finds herself in, along with many other smaller schools it seems.
    I suppose logically this would be one solution, but given the current political drive towards greater independence and autonomy from the LA for schools, I doubt whether such direct management could ever be a reality. I know in my own area that many primary schools are considering forming federations and some even coming together with the secondary school that they feed within an Academy Trust. This is not the ideal for all schools but one possible solution, particularly in rural settings where there is only one secondary to choose from or two at the most.
    I don't presume to have answers to the OP's question, merely suggestions, but I am certain that it is easier to address problems from within the GB as a governor, rather than trying from outside.
  15. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    I don't agree. Our small rural school has a full GB and very few fail to see out their 4 year term.

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