Virtual meetings: your complete guide
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
- 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:
|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:
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
- 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
4. After the meeting
- 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.
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.
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