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Question about establishing boundaries for governor

Discussion in 'Headteachers' started by HowzatLBW, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. I am growing increasingly uneasy about a situation that I inherited back in 2008 but which, to my mind now needs to be addressed at some level.

    The situation is that one of the school's governors is a regular volunteer (one morning and one afternoon) per week in the classroom. I am concerned that there are several boundaries which are being blurred far too often and that this governor is making judgements that they are not qualified to make (for example about teachers performance in the classroom).

    Is there guidance on the wisdom of governors being in school this regularly when they are not members of staff. Or whether they de-facto put themselves in the same position as staff members on the governing body with the limits to which statutory committees they may be involved in if they are volunteering in school at this level?
     
  2. I am growing increasingly uneasy about a situation that I inherited back in 2008 but which, to my mind now needs to be addressed at some level.

    The situation is that one of the school's governors is a regular volunteer (one morning and one afternoon) per week in the classroom. I am concerned that there are several boundaries which are being blurred far too often and that this governor is making judgements that they are not qualified to make (for example about teachers performance in the classroom).

    Is there guidance on the wisdom of governors being in school this regularly when they are not members of staff. Or whether they de-facto put themselves in the same position as staff members on the governing body with the limits to which statutory committees they may be involved in if they are volunteering in school at this level?
     
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    It sounds as if this person has a difficulty understanding the concept of differing roles. When they are working in school as a volunteer they aren't there in their capacity as a governor. They are there as a volunteer and are subject to your management direction just as much as paid staff are. How often they come in as a volunteer is therefore up to you. There are no statutory limits about which committees a staff governor can serve on, so none would apply to a volunteer either. Regulations prevent governors who work at the school being present at any GB meeting where pay or performance of another staff member is being discussed. However, the regulations specifically say they only apply to staff who are paid to work at the school so wouldn't apply to volunteers. Otherwise the limitations relate mainly to pecuniary interest so it's unlikely an unpaid volunteer could fall within that.
    When they visit school as a governor it should be within the scope of a governors visits programme agreed by the governing body and with a formal visits protocol in place. There are plenty of good examples of visits protocols around and all make it clear that individual governors are not visiting to inspect and aren't qualified to judge teaching and shouldn't do so when reporting to the governing body. If they have a concern about anything they've seen while visiting they sould discuss with HT at the end of their visit. Does your GB have a visits programme? Talk to Chair to make sure there is one in place and that it is being followed.
    Absent from your post is anything to suggest that this person has ever been told they behaving improperly. Have they? Maybe that's the starting point? Volunteers and governors may well have no idea about the expected protocols of school visits if no-one has ever told them!
     
  4. Thank you for that response.

    Yes we do have a visits protocol but we don't have a visits programme. This is something I will discuss with the chair since we need to formalise a lot of the GB's work. The protocol says exactly what you said about reporting concerns to the HT. I think we might be dealing with someone who rather things that procedures and protocols apply to everyone else but not to them.

    We have tried the subtle approach to dealing with the gaps but a more direct approach may now be required.
     
  5. * thinks ... not things in penultimate sentence!
     
  6. It might help to start a programme with the chair of gov's to review roles and responsibilities in the school. This will give you the opportunity to define the role of governors and to share with them what their role is exactly in your school. You need a governor to raise the issue of governors being accountable at committee level and how they need to protect themselves as individuals, being careful to represent the whole governing body at all times to support the school and uphold confidentiality. I found it helpful to seek the support of Governor Services in leading such an evening so that there was clearly no bias or hidden agenda. Look at each governor's important role within each committee. There is scope for governors to advise individually and even to lead projects on behalf of the governors or to have special responsibilities which will help you. Maybe you can kindly re-direct this governor who is obviously keen to be involved. Could you utilise their skills somehow? How about H&S governor- checking with you once a month and keeping risk assessments up to date? They could report to the Resources/similar committee regularly. There are many areas like this.
     
  7. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    Hmmmm ....

    I thought the laws of the land defined the role of governors, not individual heads.
     
  8. Pay attention. Defining the role of your governors with them in the context of your own school. Can you not gather the inference of the suggestion without having things spelt out for you? Come now, tut tut and hmmm back at you!
     

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