Despite the lockdown, the Governor Services team is continuing to support governors across the schools and academies with which we work. At a time when school leaders and staff are responding to new challenges, when we are all being asked to work in new and different ways, the positive support that governors can provide to their schools is key. We believe that governors need to be able to both support school leaders and ensure that they continue to be held to account for what is happening operationally in schools.
To support this, we have developed a guide to decision making, and practical advice on how to continue to hold governors meetings, without this becoming a burden on school and academy leaders. The key to this is ensuring that meetings can function virtually and that they focus on the key issues that need to be addressed, which has meant after an initial response to shut down being the cancellation of meetings, governing bodies are again starting to meet and conduct their business – virtually.
The DfE guidance is to keep governor business to a minimum, to shorten agendas to only approve the urgent items and to provide an update for governors. It is suggested that meetings focus on:
- Business critical decisions (e.g. budget approval, ratifying school leadership appointments etc).
- Monitoring how the school is continuing to provide care for children who are vulnerable, children with ECHP plans, the children of key workers, associated risks, issues etc.
- Any issues arising from how the building is currently being used and remote working for staff.
- Support being given to parents and carers to help them educate their children at home.
- Monitoring the well-being and welfare of pupils, staff and stakeholders.
We have provided practical advice and guidance for Chairs and Clerks to prepare for and run effective meetings via the variety of online portals that are now available. Necessity has been the mother of invention, and although these ways of working have been in place for many years, with colleagues in industry having Skyped, Zoomed or used Microsoft Teams for many years, this has been new territory for many governors and governing bodies.
I wonder how many meetings will continue in this way in future? Could this be the end of in-quorate meetings? Only time will tell, but it will be a pity if the opportunities for governing bodies to work differently that this crisis has made us identify are forgotten.
In addition we are trialling portals that allow for interactive training to be delivered into governors homes.
Whilst we are all looking forward to being able to meet and conduct our business face to face again, we must not forget that there are many ways that we can continue to work face to face in the future.