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Trust and support our school leaders, the role of the governing body in the Covid times

One of the roles that I love is being the Chair of a Governing Body.  The aim of this post is to share what we are doing, as a Board, during these difficult time.  I will refrain from commenting on the role of the Government, DfE and local authority as I intend for this to be both a positive and useful post. What is clear is that governing bodies have a crucial part to play. I am grateful both to the brilliant Clerk and the National Governance Association whose Covid advice pages are fantastic.

Firstly; from the outset, the brilliant leadership team that I work with have my unwavering and public support. Regardless.

As this is a fast evolving crisis, often with pages of advice, guideline and directives to decipher and digest on a daily basis. As such, the role of governing bodies is twofold:

1.  to prioritise the providing of support to the Headteacher and all colleagues in the school, and
2. to allow them to get on with operational matters and decision making.

The role of the governing body is strategic: it hold leaders to account on the ethos, values, educational quality and financial sustainability. Although the current situation will undoubtedly have an impact on all of these, at the moment at least, we need to focus on the ethos. Yes, there should be oversight and questions, however, crucially, we must trust and support our school leaders to do the right thing by their staff, young people and communities.

For this, I have established a fortnightly Zoom meeting that all Governors are invited to attend. There are no papers required ahead of time for most items and there is a standing agenda.  The purpose of the meeting is to:

1. provide key information to governors so that we retain a strategic overview of the situation and the school
2. provide a regular slot so that governors are part of the school community.

Any urgent updates are communicated to myself as Chair through numerous communication options.

The standing agenda is as follows:

1. Apologies for Absence and declaration of interest
2. Business critical decisions.

These are anything that needs discussion or approval, such as the budget. For this item, papers are submitted before hand using our online platform, GVO. We have been using effectively this for a few years now to  communicate and prepare. In standard times, documents are available ten working days ahead of nay meeting with governor questions pre-submitted 5 working days ahead to allow leaders to adequately prepare. The Clerk is fantastic at ensuring that any statutory items are included here, that are outside of the standing items.

3. Headteacher verbal update, to include:
- vulnerable children, EHCP students, children of key workers etc
- any issues arising relating to buildings or use of the site
- remote working staff
- any future considerations that Governors need to be aware of

4. A focus on the home learning hub, including the view of parents.

5. Safeguarding and FSM, including the provision of meals

6. Chair's action

This covers any decisions made on behalf of the Governing Body and allows wider scrutiny. 

This has worked well over the crisis so far and, I think, strikes the right balance between support and accountability.  I am blessed to have an amazing bunch of colleagues on the board and it is a privilege to serve the local community, especially at this time. 

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash


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