How governors can monitor during Covid and what they must continue to monitor

The deadline to start teaching the statutory Relationships Education curriculum arrives on 01 April 2021. As more children return to school, and as time progresses, the impact of the pandemic on their wellbeing will become clearer. The introduction of the compulsory teaching of relationships education could not be more timely.

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Governors are responsible and accountable for their statutory responsibilities and three core functions regardless of Covid or restrictions.

In pre-Covid days governors could go into school, meet with members of staff and pupils, and observe the school in action. Previous restrictions allowed for more remote monitoring opportunities to meet with members of staff and pupils as all were in school. This lockdown has been intensely challenging for schools. We need to be even more creative in our monitoring to preserve staff wellbeing and draw on all these experiences to inform our monitoring, dependent on circumstances, in the future.

How can governors monitor without burdening staff time to write unnecessary reports?

  • Use the school website. Is it compliant? What can you find on it?
  • Audit the remote provision for a Key Stage/subject/year group. Are we delivering the curriculum expected of our school? Any pupil feedback/minutes/work on website to help?
  • Parent governors could write a report to governors on how they are coping with the remote provision, good and bad. Can they include feedback from other parents they know? Is parent feedback being positively sought and acted upon to improve provision and uptake? How?
  • Governors are expected to ensure the Risk Assessment is compliant with Government guidance and endorse this at meetings. Is it on every agenda?  Governors should be seeing the Risk Assessment every few weeks, too often there have been daily updates.  Are we getting every update so that we can comment by email and reduce Headteacher stress by their knowing that governors have overseen and checked it is not missing aspects of latest guidance?  We do not approve this operational plan but do need to support in this way.
  • Review our governing body effectiveness, skills, structure and the organisation of our work

What are the essentials to continue to monitor whilst supporting staff wellbeing?

We should currently only hold essential meetings with shortened agendas, ask for only essential staff reports and information to protect staff wellbeing.   Our accountability remains the same and these are some of the vital areas we must continually monitor to ensure this accountability.

  • Finance including Covid expenditure to date, how it affects the budget and any implications for the 3-5 year plan, and that timely returns are made as per regulations
  • The Risk Assessment and Plan. Recovery Plan?
  • Health and safety, Covid testing, premises and personnel updates/audits
  • GDPR and any breaches
  • Are there increased numbers?  How monitoring, how identifying pupils not in school?
  • Pupil and Staff wellbeing (including the Headteacher’s). How assessing? Governors could write to their link staff to show support and appreciation of what they are achieving to keep them going and sustain the relationship.  Do we thank via the minutes?
  • Remote provision, uptake, success? How is the school increasing the uptake of learning and motivating the pupils, or to even log on?  What are the barriers?
  • Ensuring the remote provision is accessible for Pupil Premium Group (PPG) and SEND groups
  • Has the school got increasing numbers of PPG, knows the barriers to their learning and how they need to be supported?
  • Admission numbers for the next academic year
  • Has the School Development Plan needed to change? What are the priorities now?
  • Are the Performance Management targets set for staff still achievable or in need of amendment?
  • Statutory policies still need timely approval. Are all up to date?  The rest can wait.

By being creative, thinking imaginatively and using our greatly enhanced technology skills we can continue to fulfil our roles and responsibilities effectively. Good luck.

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