It’s been a privilege; now’s time to pass it on
Guest blog from Deborah De Long – Parent Govenor
My role as parent governor at FBS is up at the end of the summer term. Having been voted in shortly after the opening of the school four years ago, I can honestly say it’s been one of the best things I’ve done; I feel privileged to have been on governor duty in the exciting and challenging years of the school’s inception. But rather than stand for re-election, I decided the time was right for other FBS parents to come forward to embrace this exciting opportunity.
What does it take to be a parent governor? A specific skillset is not needed, but you must be a parent of a boy at the school at time of election, understand that the position is entirely voluntary, and that it will require a good amount of your time and commitment both in and out of school.
The Department for Education encourages governing bodies to ‘be no bigger than they need to be to have all the skills necessary to carry out their functions.’ At FBS the board of Governors sits at a fairly tight and very cohesive eleven, and includes the Headmaster, a staff member (elected by staff), two parent governors (elected by parents), a community representative, two governors appointed by the London Diocese and the area Deanery and four members appointed by the Founders on the basis of the vital skills and experience they bring to the table.
Being an FBS governor takes time. There are governing body meetings at least once a term and all governors sit on one of the four sub committees – community, pupil, personnel or resources – which also meet at least once a term. Then there’s the involvement before and after these meetings: reviewing policies, data, minutes and the school development plan. There are also regular visits to school to meet with assigned teachers and their subjects or linked areas to review progress and advise as ‘critical friend’. There are also the lesson observations, learning walks, review and development sessions, and as the school continues to grow, staff candidate interviews. Then there’s the time invested in talking to boys, teachers, parents and the headmaster, all key to helping build a constructive relationship with the school. And last but by no means least, the governor training sessions, learning/revising/renewing best practice in holding the school to account, challenging, supporting and being that ‘critical friend’.
The termly Governing Body meeting attended by all FBS governors is perhaps the most dynamic forum where high agenda issues are debated and discussed, such as permanent site, admissions, Sixth Form, budget, school policies and so forth. The range of differing viewpoints and ideas voiced in these meetings reflects the diversity of the governors’ backgrounds, and for all the distinct opinions expressed, how they are genuinely passionate about arriving at the best outcome – together – for FBS, not just for the short term but for years to come. The governors are resilient and resourceful, they challenge and fight tirelessly for the good of FBS, demonstrating the ‘can do’ attitude that is the very DNA of the school.
Being a parent governor at FBS has involved time – occasionally ridiculous amounts of it – but it’s been worth every minute of it. It’s been interesting and educational, I have seen first hand what it takes to run a thriving school where systems are in place to keep track and keep on top of things, where the wellbeing and development of the staff is paramount to making sure every single boy has a flight path to realise the success and potential he is capable of. I’ve observed classes where teachers have delivered amazing lessons to boys, inspiring them, questioning them, and often making them laugh. I’ve talked with teachers about their subjects and teaching, and been inspired by the depth of reflection that goes into assessing how they can make their lessons even better. I’ve had meetings with the Headmaster to discuss standards, uniform, attendance, behaviour, and personnel to name a few. I’ve experienced the safe and caring environment at FBS where boys are happy, can be themselves and can believe in their dreams.
FBS is in truly great hands thanks to Mr Ebenezer, thanks to his teachers and staff, and thanks to the tireless Governors. It’s been a privilege; and now’s time to pass it on.