Parents should have a voice

13th May 2005 at 01:00
Why would a parent want to become a governor? In my case it was quite simple and, I'm afraid, not altruistic.

My daughter, now aged six, is one of those children who cannot see why they should share any of their school life with a parent. So to be met each time with "I can't remember" after the daily litany of asking if she had had a nice time, or what she had done at school, was extremely frustrating.

Besides, other parents were beginning to question my mental stability as I lurked behind them in the playground trying to find out what their offspring - and hence my daughter - had been doing that day.

However, as my profession is all about communicating with people, I was confident that, as a parent governor, I could ably represent the views of parents and in turn feed back to them the work of the governing body. I would be doing my bit for everyone. I knew that governors had overall responsibility for the budget, delivery of the national curriculum and staff recruitment (among other things). Naively, I thought that a parent governor was a parent representative and channel for two-way communication.

However, on becoming the successful incumbent I soon discovered that you are not representative of anyone except yourself.

Parent governors rarely have the expertise of educators, but they bring something different to the table. What unites them is unconditional love and parental passion for their child. Why not use this strength to support teachers who, under huge pressure to achieve curriculum outcomes and targets, have less and less time for nurturing the pupil and offering holistic care to develop a happy child?

At primary level parents have strong feelings about numerous areas that affect their child. Homework, for example: many feel young children should finish for the day when the school bell goes. Healthy-eating initiatives have evoked strong reactions at more than one school. And the dynamics of friendship groups or a child's increasing fear of a subject may be unknown to a teacher. Whatever the parents' feelings, they do not have a voice.

Governors also face increasing workload, but there must be a system or mechanism to allow parent governors to act as a channel for parents' views and feelings. How about a simple, anonymous suggestions box? But then perhaps I'm being naive again.

Rhiannon Jenkins is a governor in Monmouthshire

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