What is expected of a parent governor? The National Governance Association describes the role as providing strategic leadership and accountability.
A parent governor becomes a member of a governing board, which is established in law as a corporate body, and governors appoint the head and deputy; the board of governors may even own the school site.
Decisions taken by the board are a joint responsibility, but the head teacher is responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the school.
Governors should be prepared to be a source of challenge, and also support to the head teacher – in this way they act as a ‘critical friend’.
Jeremy Hater, now Chair of Governors at Bridge and Patrixbourne CEP School, first stood for election as a parent governor after initially being a parent volunteer. “I was helping with some science and heard they were looking for governors,” he says, “but there are other ways to help out without that commitment.
“If you have a specific skill – for example, in Health and Safety – then notify your school. You can be co-opted onto the board, or be a non-voting ‘associate member’ and really make a difference.”
Some schools and colleges are finding it hard to recruit any governors, or even volunteers with skills, but help is at hand: Inspiring the Future is a website that matches volunteers with skills, such as finance, law, HR and marketing, with state schools and colleges. Schools and volunteers can register at www.inspiringthefuture.org/inspiring-governors