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Tie up 2018: your festive survival guide
- 1 Thank your teaching and support staff
- 2 Send a festive greeting to your community
- 3 Go to your school’s festive events
- 4 Keep the governance going
- 5 Tie up the term’s tasks if you haven't already
We wrote this article with the help of our associate education expert Jane Owens.
Thank your teaching and support staff
December is a great time to say thank you to the teachers and support staff who work so hard throughout the year.
- Pass a thank you message through your headteacher
- Express your thanks at the last governor meeting of term so they’re included in the published minutes
- Send a mass email from the board to your staff body
If you want to thank any individual members of staff, ask your headteacher to pass on your thanks to them specifically rather than include them by name in the whole staff message.
Focus on positive messages, avoid talking about any specific school-wide issues.
Send a festive greeting to your community
Send a message of appreciation to everyone in the community. Include it:
- In the final newsletter of term - ask the headteacher for a deadline and which staff member you need to send it to
- On your school website or noticeboard
Take this chance to update everyone on any big projects that you're working on that'll bring about positive changes. For example recruiting a new headteacher or planned works to improve the premises.
Examples from schools
If you want some ideas for what to include in your own message take a look at these Christmas letters and messages to parents:
- St Luke's Church of England Primary School in Tower Hamlets
- St Wilfrid's Catholic Primary School in Cheshire - see Christmas letter 2016
- Lowton West Primary School in Wigan - see messages on 23 December 2016 and 17 December 2015
We didn't find any examples from secondary schools hosted online, but you may still find the above examples useful.
Go to your school’s festive events
Your school is likely to have a packed programme of events happening throughout December - from Christmas fairs, to carol concerts, to end-of-year performances.
Not only is it a nice touch when governors make an effort to go along, it will help you be a better governor. The Governance Handbook makes it clear that boards need to be “connected to the communities they serve”. Attending school events will mean you’re more visible in the school community, and will help you build a relationship with parents, pupils and staff members.
Try to avoid listening to any complaints from members of the school community
Instead tell them to contact you via the appropriate channels or to raise the issue through your complaints procedure.
Keep the governance going
On a more formal note, good governance shouldn't stop just because the holidays are approaching.
Check in with your headteacher and ask:
- How are we making sure learning is still taking place?
- If we're planning extra-curricular activities, are these still in line with our school's vision and values?
- Are we being inclusive of pupils and staff of different faiths?
- Does our programme of events reflect our community?
Tie up the term’s tasks if you haven't already
Some deadlines and important tasks you may miss because of the festive madness:
- Primary schools' validated performance data will be published on 13 December
- If your school needs to consult on any changes to your admissions policy and oversubscription criteria, you need to start the consultation by 19 December at the absolute latest. You need to consult for at least 6 weeks, ending by the 31st January
- Academies' accounts and annual financial statements need to be submitted to the ESFA and Companies House by 31 December
- You're likely to need to complete your headteacher's appraisal report by 31 December - check your appraisal policy in case the deadline differs
If you haven’t completed these autumn term tasks, you should get started now
- Check your safeguarding policy is in-line with changes to statutory safeguarding guidance
- Conduct your first governor school visits and share visit reports from these with your governing board
- Publish an updated register of interests and governor details on the school website, and make sure your school or trust's page on Get Information about Schools is up to date
Jane Owens is a chair of governors at primary, secondary and special schools, and chairs a Multi-Academy Trust board. She is a National Leader of Governance and conducts external reviews of governance across all sectors.
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