Release date: 25/03/2020

To support governing boards with the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the National Governance Association (NGA) has released guidance on business continuity and holding meetings virtually. The guidance is free and applicable to boards of all school types and trusts.

Given the enormous task that schools and their staff have in ensuring continuity of education and making the reduced provision work on the ground, it is appropriate for all non-urgent business to be delayed, the guidance says. Governing board meetings should therefore be restricted to a handful of purposes including making business critical decisions (e.g. budget approval, ratifying school leadership appointments) and monitoring the wellbeing and welfare of pupils, staff and stakeholders.

The guidance also states that the work undertaken by panels – such as exclusions and complaints – is technically on hold, as it would be during a school holiday period, as schools are closed.

NGA recommends that governing boards arrange virtual meetings by telephone, video conference or through an online platform to conduct essential business, and the guidance confirms that the Department for Education has advised that during this isolation period governing boards can agree to hold meetings via telephone or video-conferencing without having to meet first.

Tips on how to make a virtual governing board meeting run successfully, and an example protocol to be followed when using alternative arrangements to participate and vote in meetings of the governing board are also provided.

NGA is committed to supporting governing boards at this difficult time and to helping those governing in navigating rules, procedures and practicalities they may not have engaged with before. Therefore, NGA’s GOLDline advice service is now available to all governing boards that have questions about maintaining their business in the current circumstances. GOLDline can be contacted by email to gold@nga.org.uk or by calling 0121 237 3782.

NGA is also running a webinar for members on Friday 27 March at 4.30pm to explore this guidance in more detail.

Read the guidance

Steve Edmonds, director of advice and guidance, NGA comments: “Schools and trusts serving their communities are coming to terms with the challenges of ensuring continuity of education for all pupils whilst maintaining reduced provision for vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers. Those governing will want to support them the best way that they can, first and foremost by ensuring that their governing boards continue to function, carry out their urgent business and make necessary decisions. Chairs, clerks and school and trust leaders will be at the forefront of the discussions about how governing boards continue to function at this time, and the logistics of making it work.”

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