Have I misunderstood what being a governor is about?

This week saw my first meeting as a governor of Aske’s, it was the Knights Academy liaison committee, which meets to consider issues which are specific to Knights.

I left wondering whether I’d understood the nature of being a governor.

In every other governance roll I’ve been in – councillor, board member of a charity and various professional advisory groups – when you go to a meeting you are there to try to help the paid officers take strategic or practical decisions.

This meeting didn’t make any decisions that I could see* and really we weren’t asked for a great deal of advice – although some was proffered.

I wonder whether this is other people’s experience as governors or whether decisions are reserved for the meetings of the full governing body rather than its sub-committees.   I’ll be seeing Dr Sidwell, the Chief Executive of Askes, in a week or two so will ask her, but would be grateful for any feedback from any of you who’ve been governors for longer than me.

* Admittedly I was 10 minutes or so late after some poor planning on my part about getting to Grove Park)

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About Andrew Brown

I live in Lewisham, South East London, and spent 9 years as a Labour councillor in the borough between 1997 and 2006.
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4 Responses to Have I misunderstood what being a governor is about?

  1. jayne says:

    Hi Andrew

    Shane McC asked me to comment…
    I’ve been a school governor for around 7 years – initially at the Infant school that my children attended and latterly at the frankly dystopian sink estate comp that is their current school.
    I would say that it is completely random and inconsistent, and depends very much where the power is (or where it is perceived to be) on each governing body. In real terms that usually means either the head teacher or the chair of governors – and what they do sets the tone of how the whole board operates. As an example, at the infant school, most decisions about operational stuff was made at committee level and ratified by the full governing body – the ht sat on all committees and was part of the decision making process. At the comp, committees get quite limited information and usually pretty much rubber stamp what is put in front of them by staff (the head does not attend all of these, but is clearly setting the agenda). At full govs the Head is definitely where the power is (the chair is excellent, but pissed off with the whole thing, and the board is divided between those who will support the head almost unconditionally and those who dont. It fills me with joy to know that I am known by the senior management team as “that bloody woman” because I ask the occasional awkward question. Happy to tell you more, but not in writing!

    Cheers

  2. andrewkbrown says:

    Thanks Jayne, very helpful perspective. I don’t think things are quite as polarised where I’m a governor, but I can recognise the frustrations you describe.

  3. Andrew says:

    “governance roll”

    That’s one way of putting it.

  4. andrewkbrown says:

    🙂 it must be all the food blogging.

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