5th January 2001 at 00:00
I AM a new foundation governor of an aided school, and a parent of children at the school. The chair said that I do not represent parents but must follow instructions for foundation governors.

Like other foundation governors, you have a duty to represent the interests of the school's providers and ensure that the ethos of the school reflects its denominational character and any requirements of the trust. But it is wrong to suggest that you have no function as a parent representative.

You are not in the same sense answerable to a "constituency" as an elected parent governor, but you are still there to look after parents' interests, speak for them, bring a parental view to discussions and ensure that parents' concerns are included in a suitable agenda item.

As an elected parent governor I try to represent parents, reflect their concerns at meetings and, if necessary, get a suitable item on the agenda. Several senior governors have told me that it is the governing body as a whole which is accountable to parents and that it is no more my job to communicate on thei behalf than anyone else's. Is this right?

no. It is true that you are not a delegate, obliged to vote according to parent views whatever your conscience dictates. Every governor's first loyalty is to the school and not to any sectional interest. It is also true that you shouldn't burden the governing body with problems relating to an individual child, because governors are only concerned with general school policies and practices.

Every governor is there to bring a distinctive point of view from one particular interest group. That is the richness of the governing body. While all governors should be concerned about the school's good relationships with parents and other sections of the school community, and responsible for any formal communications, you have a particular responsibility to listen to parents and see that parent views are brought to the table.

However, you should not burden meetings with a string of individual concerns, and even in policy matters remember that when it comes to voting you put the school's interests as you seethem first.

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