Thursday, 18 March 2010

Parent Governor Representative Article in Surrey Governor Summer Edition

In October 2008 I was elected as a parent governor at Polesden Lacey Infant School in Bookham where my eldest daughter is a pupil. After serving one year‘s apprenticeship I now find myself chairman of governors.

The clerk to our governing body forwarded me an email from the Surrey Governors Association about Parent Governor Representatives (PGRs).

Upon receiving that email from the clerk I did some background research to find that:

● PGR‘s are elected from serving parent governors to represent the views of all parents on local authority committees dealing with education matters
● PGR‘s were first established in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998, and are subject to their own Regulations, (the Parent Governor Representatives Regulations 2001).

PGRs have speaking rights on any issue under discussion by the committee. The role of the PGR is, primarily, to hold their local authority to account by consulting with and feeding back to parents on discussions and decisions relating to education.

It all sounded very interesting so I submitted my nomination form seconded by two fellow parent governors with the following election statement.

"I am an active governor and parent at Polesden Lacey Infant School in Bookham, Mole Valley. My children have inspired in me a passion for education and life-long learning. I believe we should be equipping children for the next stage of their life in this current uncertain world we live in. I would like to see the education policy driven by parental choice rather than politics."
As election time neared I emailed the Surrey Governors Association to find out why the ballot papers had not been sent out to parent governors. I was delighted to learn that mine was the only application for the three PGR vacancies so I was automatically elected to join the select committee without the need for a ballot. My election statement has never seen the light of day until now.

I was also saddened by the apathy that no other parent governor in the whole of Surrey had put themselves forward for nomination. That is what inspired me to write this article to better explain the role of the parent governor representative on the Surrey Select committee and share my own experiences in my first six months as a member.

My first select committee meeting took place in July last year which was a mix between induction and fact finding to better understand our roles on the committee. Some 90% of the select committee are new members who are chaired by Dorothy Ross-Tomlin, who is clearly committed to make sure that the select committee makes a real difference and is not just there to rubber stamp Surrey officers wishes.

The select committee is very akin to a school governing body where we act as a critical friend and ensure accountability. However, it is not all reading committee papers, power-point presentations, listening and challenging; we also have the opportunity to have training and field fact finding trips.

At the first meeting we visited High Ashurst Outdoor Educational Centre near Box Hill, Dorking. We had a full VIP tour of the facilities and had the opportunity to speak to the staff. It is a truly inspirational place and the staff are clearly very passionate about what they achieve there.

The majority of the Select committee meetings start at 10am at County Hall, Kingston Upon Thames and finish around 12.30pm. Sometimes there may be a short presentation or fact finding visit afterwards which is purely optional but often beneficial. There are around seven committee meetings per year plus the odd special meeting which works out less than 20 hours per year sitting on the actual committee, which is not as big a commitment as some might think.

Details including agenda, committee papers for the Schools and Learning select committee to find
out what we do, can be found at:

I have found the whole experience very interesting and rewarding so far and hope I continue to do so. An added benefit is you get a prime car parking pass in front of County Hall.

I also run a twitter micro blogging service with School Governor related news items and my experiences as both Chairman of Governors and Parent Governor representative can be found at I welcome feedback and questions.

I would certainly welcome fellow Surrey parent governors to join me on the select committee to fill the two outstanding PGR vacancies. If you think this could be a possibility for you, more info on Surrey‘s PGR Webpage can be found at:

Sean Whetstone
Chairman of Governors of Polesden Lacey Infant School, Bookham
Parent Governor Representative Member of Surrey County Council Schools & Learning Select Committee

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