Last reviewed on 8 February 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 40402

Learn how to run your virtual meetings effectively with our one-stop shop for chairs and clerks.

8 February 2022: Government guidance on when boards can resume in-person meetings hasn't changed. As the chair of governors you should work with your headteacher to decide whether your meetings can be in person. 

Your meetings should comply with the latest government guidance on living safely with respiratory viruses including the coronavirus, and you can consider if a blended approach of face-to-face and virtual meetings will work for your board (as per the April 2021 governance update).

1. Prepare for the meeting

The points in this section will be handled by either the chair or the clerk – check to see if it's you.

Make sure everyone can attend remotely and use the platform

Make sure all governors:
  • Have access to a decent internet connection (if they don’t, give them the option to dial in by phone, or ask if there’s anything you can do to help)
  • Test their connection and access to the platform by doing a quick test run with you

Keep your meetings secure by enabling any security features

Make sure you’ve enabled security features for the platform you're using – ask an IT member of staff for support on how to do this if you're unsure.

Be sure to read the privacy terms and conditions of your platform. 

Set some ground rules

Below are some recommended ground rules you’ll probably want to agree with governors to help keep the meeting on track.

All governors should agree to:

  Why?
Attend the whole meeting You don’t want governors logging off and on during the meeting as this affects the quorum, security and flow of the meeting.
Attend the meeting with the webcam/video switched on This will make the meeting easier to moderate and minute – if this really isn’t possible then the governor can attend via audio only.
Focus on the meeting in the same way as if they’re attending in person With important topics being covered, and possibly decisions or votes being taken, governors need to give their full attention to the business under discussion.
Remain on mute unless they’re speaking This improves the call quality for everyone.
Say their name before they start speaking To help the clerk know who's speaking.
Use headphones  To help keep the meeting private.
Be mindful of their surroundings  Governors need to be aware of who or what is visible or audible in the background. They should also avoid others overhearing their contributions to the meeting, particularly if discussing confidential information.
Follow a set procedure for asking questions

Ideally set out a procedure that allows governors to ask questions without lots of people jumping in at the same time. You could:

  • Ask them to raise their hand, and/or
  • Ask them to send questions in via a live messaging board on your platform, or email

But, there'll still be times when governors will jump in and ask a question – this is fine as long as it's managed.


Check conflicts of interest

Like any other meeting, governors need to review the agenda items and alert you as soon as possible if they have a conflict of interest.

2. At the start of the meeting

Once the clerk has started the meeting and made a note of attendance and quorum:
 
  • Remind governors of the ground rules
  • Give a quick re-cap at the start of the meeting of how it will run
  • Allow governors to declare any conflicts of interest at the start of the meeting.

3. During the meeting

Run a tight ship
 
Virtual meetings are harder to manage, so shorter is better.
 
Make sure everyone can contribute
 
Time delays and laggy connections are going to happen.

Just make sure everyone can contribute if they need to – take a look at possible methods you can try for governors to ask questions in the first section above.
 
Check in with the clerk
 
Don't forget your clerk is having to clerk in a slightly different way. Before moving on to the next item, double check they've recorded everything they needed to.

4. After the meeting

Once the clerk has sent you and the headteacher the draft minutes to read through, send back any amendments the clerk needs to make. The minutes then need to be approved by the full governing board at the next meeting.

After the governing board has approved them, you need to sign the minutes. You could: 
  • Mark the document as signed on GovernorHub (free with your Key membership), if your board uses this feature
  • Sign them electronically directly on the document, for example, using a web-based e-signing platform or the cloud
  • Print off, sign and scan/take a photo of the signed page(s), and send them back to the clerk

If you can’t do any of the above, email the clerk to say you agree with the minutes so you have on record that they’re approved, awaiting signature. When you're able to, you'll need to sign the minutes by hand.

 

Sources

Our associate education expert Fiona Stagg helped us with this article. Fiona is a national leader of governance and an independent clerk. She is also an experienced chair of governors, conducts external reviews of governance, and supports and mentors chairs and clerks. She is also a facilitator for the DfE's governance leadership programme.

More from The Key

The Key has taken great care in publishing this article. However, some of the article's content and information may come from or link to third party sources whose quality, relevance, accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability we do not guarantee. Accordingly, we will not be held liable for any use of or reliance placed on this article's content or the links or downloads it provides. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.