Governing during coronavirus: introduction

During this difficult time for schools, their staff and pupils, the role of governance is as vital as ever.

Effective governance is helping to provide assurance that school leaders are doing what they can to ensure children are safe and continuing learning.

You probably didn’t imagine when you first decided to become a governor that you would be supporting a school through a pandemic, so below we’ve set out some advice and tips to help governors at this challenging time.

The current situation in schools

  • All schools in England are set to reopen to all pupils in September.
  • Schools should have adapted their risk assessments to allow for a full reopening.
  • Schools have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas if they feel if it is necessary.
  • Usual rules on school attendance will apply, which means parents have a duty to ensure that their child attends regularly.
  • Ofsted inspections will remain suspended throughout autumn 2020.
  • In the event of a local outbreak, schools may be instructed to close temporarily. They will need a contingency plan for this eventuality.
  • In high transmission areas, the government will advise that adults and pupils in secondary schools wear face coverings when moving around the school and in communal areas.

You can find further information on the current situation on The Key for School Governors. This information is regularly updated.

Read more from The Key

How are boards meeting?

Many boards were already moving towards remote working, but the pandemic has accelerated this process. It’s likely that many boards will decide to keep at least some of their meetings online, even as social distancing restrictions are relaxed, so remote working is here to stay.

You should ensure you are familiar with the particular platform your board has opted for – it may be worth doing a test run if you’re not. Ask the clerk for more information about what you will need to join meetings.

Most boards are using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Skype for Business.

You can read our blog about how one board is holding remote meetings.

Read the blog

How do I carry out my role effectively?

Being a governor at this time poses new challenges.

Emphasise your support. This is a tough time for those involved in running schools. As a governor, you’re in a great position to offer your thanks, support, and encouragement.

Keep asking questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question, particularly at a time like this.

Keep up to date. There is a huge amount of guidance and resources online. Keeping up to date with this will help you to ask relevant questions.

Attend online training. This is a great opportunity to attend online training sessions or complete eLearning.

Remember your role. While you may feel like you want to provide more hands-on support, the role of the governors remains to seek assurance rather than get operationally involved.

 

 

Our webinars and support

Over recent weeks and in conjunction with our partners, we’ve hosted a number of webinars on how boards can meet the challenges posed by the pandemic.

You can find these, along with their accompanying slides, on our website.

  • Safeguarding during the coronavirus pandemic (with Better Governor)
  • Planning ahead during Covid-19 (with The Key for School Governors)
  • Microsoft Teams: practical tips for governors
  • Microsoft Teams for schools and governing boards (presented with Microsoft)
  • School governance during the coronavirus pandemic
Watch webinars