Parents are heading back to the classroom

PUBLISHED: 12:23 16 February 2006 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 May 2010

NEW STUDENTS: Midge Gillies and her daughter Rosa.
Photo: HELEN SOUTH 7859

NEW STUDENTS: Midge Gillies and her daughter Rosa. Photo: HELEN SOUTH 7859

EDUCATION is constantly at the top of the political agenda as government after government tries to leave its mark on probably one of the most controversial and vote-controlling areas of our daily lives. Teaching staff have tough roles as they try to deliv

EDUCATION is constantly at the top of the political agenda as government after government tries to leave its mark on probably one of the most controversial and vote-controlling areas of our daily lives.

Teaching staff have tough roles as they try to deliver a national curriculum against a backdrop of cash restraints.

But schools are changing. They have more control over their own affairs and school governors have an increasingly important part to play.

Parent Midge Gillies has joined the governing body of Ely's newest school, The Lantern Primary, and talks to LESLEY INNES about how she is playing an important part in her daughter's education.

WRITER Midge Gillies has gone back to school - and is enjoying every minute.

She juggles a busy working life with the demands of her young daughter and her role as a parent governor.

Since joining the governing body at Ely's Lantern Primary School she has seen life from the other side of the fence.

As well as being involved with her daughter's education, she now understands the restraints on teachers and the difficult job they face having to deliver the national curriculum while ensuring the children's welfare.

"Sometimes it's an effort to get to the meetings because I'm tired after a full day," said Midge, from her home in Newnham Street. "But I get quite fired up by the discussions. We're not just rubber-stamping. It's completely democratic. Sometimes we have quite heated discussions and really thrash something out.

"What could be more useful than being involved in your child's education? I see it as a real privilege.

"But I had no experience of going into a meeting where everyone was sitting round a table. I found it quite daunting at first. I had never been in that situation before. I didn't know how it worked.

"It doesn't matter if you ask questions that might seem daft. I felt that was one of my jobs to ask 'what does that mean'. Every industry uses acronyms which people outside don't always understand. I saw it as my role to ask those questions."

Midge, whose daughter, Rosa, six, attends the school, was voted onto the governing body.

She went on a day's training course and was given literature to read to help her understand her new role.

Now she sits on the finance and personnel committee which reports back to the whole governing body.

Midge attends two committee meetings a term and a full governors' meeting, taking up a total of about four hours.

She added: "It's really important to have a mix of different people on the governing body. We try to see what particular skills a person has and make the most of them. One of the parent governors is an architect and he sits on the property committee.

"It's really interesting to see how it all works and have your say in the education of your child.

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