Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Parent School Governors Research

In a number of schools reviewed by the Hidden Givers researchers, it was clear that parent governors were important members of the governing body. Although they did not always play a significant role in meetings, their involvement was typically beneficial.

• In one governing body,almost all the members of the full governing body were parents of pupils or their children had attended the school in the past. Our general sense was that this probably contributed more to the governing process than they realised.

• There were issues that related to recruitment and participation as we discuss below, but at another school, which was located in a disadvantaged area, a parent governor who was an experienced foster parent was singled out for particular praise by the Chair of governors.

• At one School, a parent governor was leading the way in an ad hoc group which had the purpose of improving governor effectiveness.

There were numerous other examples of the considerable and beneficial involvement of parents.
Parental involvement in governing was not without difficulties. Confidentiality could be an issue, for example on staffing matters relating to redundancies and retirements. Generally these issues were managed effectively. The perspective of parent governors could be problematic with some joining the governing body with a narrow interest in their own child’s education. As one headteacher put it: “One governor can only see his daughter”. Others may join to find out how the system works, which again can distort their perspective on governing. In the main though,
such governors, in the view another headteacher do “step up” to the full governor responsibility. This view was supported by others we interviewed.

However, there was evidence in one school that having a high proportion of parents on the governing body can be problematic. At one school the clerk to the governing body felt
that a “high proportion of parents” had in the past hindered the work of the governing body. She considered that the governing body “was not balanced”. This issue had been addressed by the new Chair of Governors and the incoming headteacher by the recruitment of members from the school’s wider community. There was however a countervailing sense with the governing body at one school. It had a high level of parental presence on the governing body but also considerable professional expertise too.

As a parent governor myself I see the pros and cons of Parent governors.

This research was taken from The full 'Hidden Givers' A study of School Governing bodies which can be found linked below.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting comments, Sean. In New Zealand where I am, legislation requires the majority of school governors (members of the school's board of trustees) to be community representatives. In practice thei usually means that they are parents of students currently or recently at the school. We don't have a lot of this kind of research though.