Covid-19: Governance of schools and academy trusts

Published by Phil Reynolds on 20 March 2020

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When unexpected and uncertain times arrive, good governance becomes even more important to schools and academy trusts who oversee utilising millions of pounds of public money for the benefit of the wellbeing of all pupils and staff. Therefore, every decision made should be documented well and with justification.

Even the most organised schools and academy trusts would not have listed a pandemic on their risk register or event as part of a contingency plan to deal with the day to day changes that are currently taking place. If you have, then I salute you!

As trustees and governors, you should continue supporting your leaders, but without interfering and adding to the burden. Do not lose sight however that the purpose of your role, be that trustee or leader, does not change; flexibility and being adaptable will be required in how you continue to fulfil your role.

Top tips:

  • Support your leaders and fellow trustees/governors and remember to be kind
  • Ensure you continue to challenge and maintain oversight – it can often be forgotten in such times
  • Keep all stakeholders in the loop with effective communication – everyone will be much more sensitive and using the appropriate language and timing will be key
  • Ensure information is shared – no doubt the Chair will be kept up to date but ensure other trustees/governors are also aware for effective decision making
  • Consider holding virtual meetings – my Trust recently used Microsoft Teams but there plenty of other options available, embrace the technology available to us
  • Maintain your meetings so that they align to Academies Financial Handbook requirements as much as possible
  • Ensure that your Articles of Association allow for virtual meetings or meetings via the good old-fashioned telephone
  • Ensure meetings are quorate

We are certainly in unprecedented times, but such times also provide a fantastic opportunity for the country to pull together as one and that is certainly something I would urge all schools and academy trusts to do.

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