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Sean Whetstone on Parent Governor Representatives

Sean Whetstone on Parent Governor Representatives

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Sean Whetstone

In 2009 my Clerk of Governors forwarded me an email asking for parent governors to volunteer to stand for our County Council Schools & Learning Select Committee as Parent Governor Representatives.

I did some background research to find that:

  • Parent Governor Representatives (PGRs) are elected from serving parent governors to represent the views of all parents on local authority committees dealing with education matters.
  • PGRs were first established in the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. 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.

As election time neared I emailed our Governors Association, who were running the election, to find out why the ballot papers had not been sent out to parent governors. 

I was delighted and saddened to learn I was the only applicant for the three PGR vacancies so I was duly elected without the need for a ballot.

Although I was delighted to be joining the select committee I was saddened by the apathy that no other parent governor had put their self forward for nomination.

The select committee is very akin to a school governing body where we act as a critical fiend and ensure accountability of the local authority.

But it is not all about reading committee papers, sitting through power-point presentations, listening and challenging; we also have the opportunity to have training and field fact finding trips.

At my first meeting we visited an Outdoor Educational Centre. We had a full VIP tour of facility 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 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.  This  works out at less than 20 hours per year sitting on the actual committee which is not as big a commitment as some might think during the business day.

I have found the whole experience very interesting and rewarding so far and hope I continue to do so.I would certainly encourage fellow parent governors reading this to find out if their local authority has any PGR vacancies. 

I sit on Surrey County Council Schools & Learning Select Committee so if you happen to be a parent governor in Surrey we have two PGR vacancies at this time.  More info on Surrey’s PGR Webpage here.

by 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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  • Jabulani
    Posted at 11:47h, 19 April Reply

    That’s an interesting election process. At our school, we put the election to the whole school. A parent puts forward a brief bio of themselves, and then the ballot takes place. We’ve been fortunate in the last 2 Parent Governor spaces to have 2 candidates come forward each time. Voting though is not known for its volume of participation!! I think the apathy of your school is similar in all schools and, like you, I feel it’s a great shame that parents do not get more involved in their children’s school community. The question of why is one which I believe needs exploring: is it because parents are genuinely apathetic, or, more worryingly, because they have no idea who/what Governors are and this leads to fear/apathy?? At our school we’ve found that if the school organises a function (e.g. an evening to discuss how they teach Maths), the attendance is generally quite good. If Governors organise an evening, e.g. Understanding how a Church School is financed, we had 3 parents turn up!! Perhaps it’s just the content…but even when we held a meeting with parents last year to canvass their ideas on what they wanted in a new head, we still only had 15 people turn up – out of a school of 170 children. What I find interesting is that folk won’t get involved and yet feel they can still grumble and whinge and say Governors aren’t interested in what parents think. It’s um, frustrating!!

    All the best with your PGR vacancies!

  • Sean Whetstone
    Posted at 14:49h, 19 April Reply

    Thanks for the comment.

    It wasn’t apathy at our School that was the problem, In fact we are blessed with many volunteers and have a full governing body.

    It was the apathy of Surrey governors in applying for the three PGR vacancies. There are approx. 5,000 School Governors in Surrey of which approx. 1250 of them are Parent Governors.

    I was saddened that I was the only one from 1,250 Parent Governors to apply.

    This is Guest blog is a shortened version of an artilce I wrote for our county magazine Surrey Governor this term.

    Hopefully it will encourage others to become Parent Governor Representaives.


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