We all know the importance of the relationship between schools and governors. Both parties have a vital role to play in ensuring that children are receiving the best education available to them.
Clear and effective communication is key to the partnership working. The goal is to have everyone informed, working towards the agreed strategy and aware of the school’s performance.
However, getting this communication right can be time-consuming.
In normal times, the collation of reports for governors would be incorporated into the school day with any additional time already spilling into evenings and weekends. In the current climate, with teachers and senior leaders already pushed to their maximum, this additional communication can seem particularly onerous.
For this reason, it is an ideal time to examine the exchange of information between the SLT, governors and committees in your school and ensure it is efficient, effective and less time-consuming.
The goal is to improve work-life balance in the short and long term and create more Child-Time for senior leaders and teachers.
More Child-Time actions
What can I do today?
Set a policy on the timing of requests
Last-minute requests for data can be disruptive and place additional stress on staff, even in the most normal of times.
Make change happen today by contacting all governors and any other stakeholders that are the source of these sorts of enquiries. Outline that you want to facilitate the job of governors while avoiding any additional last-minute demands on staff time.
Instead, outline a timescale under which you will be able to provide information to stakeholders. You may decide a three or four-week notice period is a suitable timeframe so that few urgent requests are made.
Ensure that the SLT, and your support staff (including your clerk), are aware of this policy. Ask that any demands outside of this scope are passed to the headteacher or a chosen senior leader who can decide whether or not the request should be fulfilled outside of the normal timeframes.
Use messaging rather than email
Make use of secure messaging channels that are available in your school’s IT systems. Microsoft Teams and Google have good options which link to document storage, but there are many other systems available.
Establish a separate information sharing thread for governors and the SLT. Let stakeholders know that this will be the communication platform to keep all members informed. Be sure to communicate the usage policy at the same time, be clear about what it is for and what it is not for.
Post all reports and data required for a governors’ or committee meeting in the relevant group thread, which will cut down the need for email.
When a governor contacts the school looking for a document they cannot locate, they can be guided to the relevant thread. Requests will become fewer over time as stakeholders realise they can access most of what they need from the thread.
What shall I work on next term?
Define a meeting policy
We have all been there. Those meetings that meander, get highjacked, go off-topic and blow through allocated time – even with an experienced chair, this can still happen.
With so little time available, every minute counts so now is the time to make sure governor and committee meetings are both efficient and highly effective.
Working with your chair, set an agenda that includes defined time slots. This could be a reusable template document that covers key areas that you want to give feedback on in every meeting.
Ask that any AOB is submitted before the meeting. This will help people think about points they wish to raise in advance and avoid time being wasted on unnecessary subjects and diversions.
Post the full agenda document on your relevant meeting thread, complete with timings, so that everyone has access to it before the meeting.
Have a moderator to keep the meeting on track and who is fully aware of your meeting goals.
If someone wishes to discuss a topic that is not urgent or will take you away from the agenda, the moderator can politely state that it can be added for discussion in the next meeting.
What shall I be working on for the rest of the year?
As well as producing reusable templates for meetings, it is good practice to create templates for reporting data to different stakeholders.
Often SLTs are asked to report similar data to different stakeholders in slightly different formats. Determine whether this data can be standardised into one format and one reporting document.
This single document can then be posted on all relevant meeting threads for stakeholders to scrutinise.
The time spent managing the flow of information between stakeholders and the SLT will pay dividends.
Developing clear timeframes, meeting structures and templates will make the exchange of information clearer, more efficient and less stressful.
Governors will know they have the information they need to serve the school community even more effectively and the SLT will be able to focus on creating more Child-Time for their staff.