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Discussion in 'Governors' started by trinity0097, Apr 22, 2008.
It's not your job as a teacher governor to represent the staff.
There's a difference between being a delegate of the staff and a representative of the staff. Staff Governors are not delegates but they are certainly representatives of the staff - there would be no point in the staff electing the Staff Governor if the Staff Governor was not supposed to be their representative. All Governors (except ex-oficio ones) are supposed to be representatives of some stakeholder group (although the representativeness gets a bit tenuous by the time you get to Community Governors).
A delegate can be mandated how to vote and the position to take on items the GB is discussing, a representative can not. A Staff Governor can and should vote and argue as they consider right, even if they know other staff would not agree with them. However,as a representative of the staff they should know (and make sure they find out) what staff are thinking about an issue, and ensure that they make the GB aware of staff views, even if this is along the lines "The GB should know that most staff think X becuase ...., but personally I am in favour of Y and will be supporting that option". (Of course if you constantly vote in favour of things that most staff strongly disagree with you'll probably be voted off at the next Staff Governor election!)
The Staff Governor is also a link between the GB and staff and should be keeping all staff advised of what the GB is doing and why (subject to the obligation on all Governors of confidentiality where applicable).
Dapper, I suggest 3 things:
(1) Talk to your electorate and find out what they want the Staff Governor to do - you haven't suggested that you've had any conversation with them yet. Unless you do you're not really demonstrating that you've got what it takes to be a Staff Governor.
(2) Stress the 2-way communication responsibilities of the role and how you will do it.
(3) The correct term is Staff Governor (not Teacher Governor) for a reason: you would be representing all staff not just teachers, so if you would be the only Staff Governor (depends on size of your school) don't ignore the support staff.
Looking at what you wrote and your misunderstanding of your role, even to the extent that you would be a staff governor not a teacher governor, I would worry about your inexperience and lack of knowledge.
I think inexperience goes along with being an NQT, and we should be cutting Dapper401 some slack. I also think great care needs to be taken with the sort of consultation and feedback Rott Weiler describes, because although it is part of a staff governor's role, if you formalise it too much it turns into acting as a delegate.
Any governor is appointed as an individual from a particular constituency, not as a mouthpiece for that constituency (staff, parent, LEA or community). I agree entirely with the three points Rott Weiler makes.
I think the concern about not being a "yes man" is a good indication that Dapper401 has thought about the issues, and I wish some of the staff governors I've encountered were more willing to participate rather than just going along with whatever the head wants.
Thank you very much Rott Weiler. Your feedback was extremely thorough and informative.
Thanks for your support Ajnorman.
I must say however cbl, I did not misunderstand the role or the title. From my understanding, although I am applying to become a Staff Governor, the term is an umbrella term that is then broken down. I was merely trying to be explicit as to what kind Staff Governor I was elected for.
There have been many staff governors who are under the impression that it is their job to 'represent' the staff. I'm wondering where this is coming from. I rather suspect that the training given about governing bodies on their B.Ed PGCE courses is sadly lacking.
Catmark, I'm wondering where the idea is coming from that staff governors are NOT there to represent the staff? If they are not there to represent the interests of the staff what are they there for? Government and LEA official guidance on the purpose of governors repeatedly refers to the governing body as representing the interests of the various stakeholders in schools. The principle reason for governing bodies exisiting is to represent the interests of the various stakeholders (at least until Ed Balls turns us all into unpaid civil servants of the DCFS). What would be the point of staff electing the staff governor if he/she wasn't their representative? You might as well save the bother of an election and just let the head or the LEA appoint someone!
The idea probably comes from headteachers. I know that when I was 'appointed' to be teacher governor (I think it was called that 15 years ago) the headteacher warned me that my role was to support her against the other governors. Whenever she felt that I'd not been supportive enough she'd summon me to her office the next day and tear a strip off me. She told me that I was not entitled to EVER express my opinion as I was there to represent the staff (unless the staff views were at odds with her views in which case I was to let the governors know that the staff views were the same as hers. When I had to miss a meeting she told me that I would need to find another teacher willing to attend the meeting in my place.
I spent 5 years sitting at meetings, only speaking when called upon to agree with the head or when asked a question directly (and 'bricking myself' because I might say the wrong thing and get hauled over the coals). I hated every minute of it. I tried to resign but was told that I had committed myself to the post (I hadn't actually) and that she would not be happy if I quit.
10 years on, I wish I knew then what I know now.... that woman should have been sacked for the way that she ran the school.
Many of the complaints about parent governors arise from exactly the same misunderstanding of their role - that they are there not to be representative of that element of the school community but to represent parents. So thinking of how much staff would object if parents pursued specific agendas may help to understand why staff governors cannot.
The GB is made of different stakeholders but each of those must look to be part of a corporate decision making body which serves the best interests on the school. That does not always work of course but when it does it can achieve a lot. I know GBs of all flavours and luckily quite a few are pretty effective.
Staff governors have one place ringfenced for the HT (which must remain vacant if they decline in writing to be a governor), and then - if they have a total of three or more staff governors on their Statutory Instrument - one place will be for a teacher (but if no teacher is nominated any staff member may fill the vacancy) and one for a support staff member (but if no support staff member is nominated a teacher may fill the vacancy) and thereafter the vacancy can for be for any staff member to fill. Once on the GB, and especially if numbers are low and there are only 2 staff on the SI, they encompass all staff of course.
I would endorse what cbl has said and add a further comment on the danger of the staff governor setting him/herself up as 'representing' the staff. It's not a position I would want any member of staff to put themself in, let alone an NQT. The danger is that staff might expect the governor to 'speak out' on issues for them, as if that governor must somehow carry a specific mandate from the majority of staff.
No governor should be in that position, let alone a very inexperienced teacher.
What's the difference between "being a representative" of staff and "representing" staff? That sounds like one of those obscure semantic arguuments that has no practical significance. If the point cbl is making is that SGs are there to take decisions in the best interests of the school overall (like any any other type of governor) then I agree. If the suggestion though is that in the debate and discussion preceding a decision a SG shouldn't articulate the views of staff then I don't agree. I don't agree with anything Middlemarch says, and I think Middlemarch misrepresents what cbl said as well. SGs don't "set themselves up" to represent staff, they are elected by staff for that very purpose.
How can I have misrepresented cbl when all I said was that I agreed with what he said? My second point was exactly that - a second point.
It's your right to disagree with me. I merely offered the opinion that an NQT in particular might be placed in a vulnerable position if they felt they were there to represent the 'views' of the rest of the staff.
That is certainly not the case; any staff governor should bear in mind what s/he perceives to be the way in which the majority of staff might view a particular issue, but they can and should express their own view and vote accordingly.
Whether or not an NQT has sufficient experience to be a staff governor isn't really relevant to the question of the proper role of staff governors. If an NQT is too inexperienced for the role then staff won't elect an NQT. That doesn't invalidate the point that staff gvnrs are supposed to represent staff on the gov body. If a staff member didn't want the responsibility of representing the views of staff they presumably wouldn't stand for election. I agree with your last paragraph.
Your postig read to me as saying that cbl didn't think staff governors should be 'representing' the staff and you endorsed that view. cbl didn't say that and drew a distiction between "being a representative" of staff and "representing" staff.
Then you read it wrong. I said I endorsed what cbl had said and I do still. You have inferred that I put my own spin on that, which I did not.
I added that I felt there WAS a danger IF any member of staff did set themselves up as representing staff.
Moreover, read my comments again. I in no way said that I thought an NQT did not have the experience to be a governor and I never would say that.
We'll just have to agree to disagree on that then.