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Last updated on 26 March 2020
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School types: All · School phases: All

Be clear when you might use the 'chair's action' to make urgent decisions on your board's behalf during coronavirus.

What is it and when might I need it?

The chair's action is your ability to make decisions and act on the governing board's behalf where it's not possible for the board to meet, e.g. because of:

  • Self-isolation
  • Social distancing
  • Difficulties getting remote meetings set up quickly

You should use it only for urgent duties that can't wait.

How do I know when something is urgent?

It's when you believe that not acting now will be seriously detrimental to:

  • Your school
  • Any pupils or their parents
  • A staff member

What can I use it for?

Any urgent function of the board that can be delegated to an individual.

So things like:

  • Updating a vital safeguarding policy (e.g. if it has implications for remote learning)
  • Handling a press response

You cannot use it to approve the budget - you'll have to meet remotely with your board or use email correspondence. If you choose email correspondence, ratify the decisions formally in the next meeting (virtual or face-to-face). 

Maintained schools: if you haven't submitted the schools financial value standard (SFVS) yet, check with your LA if it's changed your deadline and whether you can use the chair's action to approve the SFVS. The DfE told us this.

How do I activate it?

Maintained schools 

You have this power already, but if possible, you should act in consultation with the headteacher.

You must report to the governing board the action you took. You should also make sure the clerk records your actions. 


You'll likely need to get approval from trustees first (check your articles of association to see what powers of delegation you have). You can ask for permission via email, and the clerk should record this decision.

Local governing bodies: check your scheme of delegation and speak to your clerk who should be able to tell you where to get approval.

For more coronavirus-specific content, take a look at our hub.


Vicky Redding is a governance trainer and consultant. She provides training, advice and support on effective school governance.

Phil Preston is an education consultant and experienced practitioner in new schools provision, school organisation and development planning, capital strategy and asset management, and governor development. He has been head of service in the education departments of three local authorities, and a national programme and project gateway reviewer.

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