How parent governors from diverse backgrounds can support diversity
3rd September 2021
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Usually drawn from a sixth form college’s local community, a parent governor is someone who has a real interest in further education (FE) and training, as well as having the best interests of the sixth form college at heart at all times. In this important role, parent governors are well positioned to make truly positive contributions to students, including their children.
Sixth form colleges recruit governors for their skills and experience and governors. Colleges usually have student governors, whereas six form colleges usually have a mix of student and parent governors. Parent governors form part of a large volunteer force across the UK with the central aim of raising educational standards and pinpointing specific areas for improvement within a sixth form college. It is their expertise, skills and experience that help shape the future direction of the institution.
Looking after your child’s best interests as parent governor
An integral part of being a parent governor is having a broad interest in FE and bringing your own experience of diversity but also the perspective of a person with a child in the sixth form college. Providing a parent’s perspective on the impact of the sixth form college’s provision for students is a valued one and you can make a real difference.
Very much like a non-executive director sitting on boards, parent governors oversee the operations of a sixth form college, enabling them to put themselves in a position to act as an advocate for promoting diversity, helping put their child’s best interests front and centre.
The best ones are committed, passionate in their role and are also undaunted when it comes to holding a sixth form college’s senior leadership team to account. Effective governance is an imperative for sixth form colleges if they are to be a successful, modern organisation that celebrates diversity. A parent governor is central to ensuring this becomes a reality.
Why become a parent governor?
What’s in it for me, you may ask? Firstly, the contribution that would make as a parent governor is invaluable. The role enables you to scrutinise a sixth form college’s performance, help shape a relevant and responsive college curriculum, and articulate the importance of a sixth form college’s ethos. Despite the diversity of modern Britain, FE institutions can be slow to reflect the society within which they exist. What better way to address this than becoming a parent governor and making sure a sixth form college’s board better reflects the diversity of its students.
A parent governor brings their own experience but also the perspective of a person with a child in the sixth form college to that institution, which is hugely important. You get to influence the education of your own children by having your voice heard – you can directly drive change, rather than merely shouting for diversity from the side-lines.
Parent governors can act as an advocate for the interests of students. Often, the student experience can be overlooked in discussion but parent governors, who can relate to potential challenges for students through discussion with their own child, and can use those insights to influence decisions.
The role of parent governor also offers a key opportunity to develop professional and personal skills. Like other governors, parent governors will have the opportunity to access training and development to contribute to effective governance. The transferable skills learned will be highly valued by employers.
Why is diversity important when it comes to parent governors?
Sixth form colleges are vital community assets so it is essential that the governing body of sixth form colleges is able to reflect the communities it serves. Sixth form colleges seek to develop whole individuals who are confident enough and armed with the right skills to enter either higher education or the world of work.
Students progress better when they feel settled as part of an inclusive community. Therefore, a diverse and inclusive board culture comprised of governors who reflect the community and possess the necessary skills and experience for effective governance, set the right tone for the organisation from the very top.
Your experience and that of your child’s as a minority can become the fuel for positive modifications at the sixth form college. Any problems encountered can be fed back to the board and you are in a unique position to enact real and lasting change for your child and students that follow in their footsteps.