Remote Governance Meetings and Virtual Ratification FAQ

With the lockdown now continuing into the start of this summer term, and with no clear time frame for schools and academies to re-open, you may now be looking to plan your remote governance meetings.    

We’ve collected some of our most frequently asked questions below.

1. What preparation should we make prior to holding a governance meeting via telephone or video conference?

The Department for Education (DfE) model articles include confirmation that governance meetings can be held remotely.  Maintained schools need to approve a virtual meeting policy via email (where the school does not already have this in place).  

Your clerk should conduct an audit of the IT equipment and systems (where not already known) available to individual governors to confirm whether a telephone or video meeting is most appropriate.  

Governors should be provided with the usual notice as required, with as many papers, as possible, being pre-circulated for review.

2. What items should we address and prioritise during our meetings?

Agendas should be succinct with priority given to those items that require ratification as priority to ensure your school or academy maintains its compliance during this unusual time.   

Non-urgent matters can be deferred until future meetings; however this should remain under review depending on the length of school closure requirements.   

3. How should virtual meetings be conducted?

It should be clear which person, usually the clerk, is responsible for setting up the remote meeting, ensuring all parties are provided with log in details and where required a test process well before the meeting start. 

Meetings are most effective when kept to 90 minutes. Where longer is required, breaks should be included every 90 minutes.  

Try not to be tempted to check your emails or browse the internet when involved in a remote meeting.

4. Do we have any additional statutory requirements?

At present all statutory requirements remain in place as there have been no changes made to the law surrounding school and academy governance requirements.

5. How can we best support our school/academy and its leaders during this time?

School leaders are required to respond quickly to the changing guidance during this unprecedented time of uncertainty and therefore need to be confident they have the governance support they need.  

All those involved in leadership and governance should have a clear understanding of their roles ensuring that senior leaders have the space to conduct their roles effectively and should not need to wait for approval on matters which are principally operational.  

The Chair will play an important role in ensuring an open, yet not onerous, line of communication is open between senior leaders and the board.

6. Can we make decisions via email where necessary?

Decisions can be ratified via email as long as a majority vote is maintained.

Emails should be kept as supporting evidence of the decision making process, and the item should be included on the agenda of the next meeting for confirmation and minuting.

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