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Last updated on 4 May 2020
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School types: All · School phases: All

Be clear on how you fit into your school’s response to the coronavirus situation, so you can support your school leaders effectively while maintaining your strategic role.

Use these examples to understand how your strategic role differs from your school leaders’ operational role in a range of scenarios.

Remote learning

Your role

  • Make sure there's some form of remote learning in place
  • Ask why senior leaders have adopted their chosen approach
  • Monitor the school's approach – for example, you'll want to check that teachers are still able to monitor safeguarding and progress
  • Approve your school's remote learning policy (if it has one)

There's no set blueprint to follow, so your school leaders will be tackling this in the way they see fit for the school.


  • Demand they follow what another school is doing – it might not be right for your school
  • Tell senior leaders what work they should set pupils or how often they should set it
  • Tell senior leaders what remote learning platform they should use

School leaders’ role

The senior leadership team (SLT) will organise the nuts and bolts of how remote learning will work. They’ll cover every detail, from what platform the school should use, to what work to set and how often, to who’ll set and mark the work.

Furloughing staff

Your role

It’s unlikely you’ll play any role in this.

The only thing you need to do is hold leaders to account for any decisions they've taken to furlough staff, to satisfy yourselves that these decisions were made in line with government guidelines and as a last resort.

You might do this when your headteacher updates you on staffing or when you're approving the budget.

School leaders’ role 

The SLT will decide whether to furlough any staff, and they’ll be responsible for notifying the affected individuals.


Your role

You need to make sure school leaders have procedures in place to safeguard both pupils in school and those at home.

It's likely you'll have 1 person to monitor this (e.g. the chair), which they'll do by checking in with the headteacher, designated safeguarding lead (DSL) or special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), and then reporting back to the board.

Your role is also to:

  • Ask when school leaders last checked and updated the single central record (SCR) – you don't need to check this yourself, but you need to ask school leaders if they're keeping it up to date
  • Approve the addendum to your child protection policy

School leaders’ role 

The SLT will take care of all the practical safeguarding tasks, including but not limited to:

  • Following up on non-attendance
  • Making sure all staff are suitable to work with children
  • Making referrals where necessary
  • Making sure someone is available to maintain safe IT arrangements
  • Making sure a DSL is available
  • Checking and updating the SCR
  • Writing the child protection policy addendum
  • Making sure staff:
    • Are up to date on the statutory safeguarding guidance
    • Know how to report a concern
    • Are aware who the DSL is on any given day and how they can speak to them


Your role

Your role is to check and approve policies once they’ve been written, for example your school's:

You can also hold the SLT to account for how policies have been implemented, and whether they've been successful.

School leaders’ role

The SLT will actually write and implement the policies, this isn't your role.

School budget

Your role 

Your role is to scrutinise, approve and monitor the budget – this hasn’t changed because of coronavirus.

You still need to hold leaders to account and ask questions to make sure money is being well spent.

To understand how coronavirus might affect your budget, take a look at this article.

School leaders’ role

The school business manager (SBM) or other school leader should set and present the budget to the relevant governing board committee for approval.

Communicating with parents

Your role

It’s unlikely you’ll be involved here – senior leaders will take care of this.

You might be asked to add something to a newsletter or blog, but only do this if your senior leaders ask you – let them take the lead.

And if parents approach you with questions or complaints, refer them to your headteacher.

School leaders’ role 

Senior leaders will handle communications with parents, so they have one clear point of contact with school.

Hub school

Your role

You’ll want to understand the reason behind the decision to operate as, or send pupils to, a hub school so you can hold leaders to account – but you won’t be making the decision.

And you'll want to make sure senior leaders have a plan in place to make sure:

  • The transition runs smoothly
  • The hub school meets all the safeguarding and welfare needs of the pupils attending

School leaders’ role

Senior leaders will be responsible for deciding whether to use a hub school model, and will lead the day-to-day running of the hub school.

They’ll be responsible for all the practical aspects, from making sure everyone on site is safe to work with children, to deciding how best to implement social distancing measures.

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