11 December, 2020
As school's approach the end of the first term back, it is undoubtedly the case that the last 9 months have presented the most challenging circumstances for school leaders and staff; including the need to close at short notice in whole or in part, manage staff absences, re-order classrooms, instigate new procedures, additional health and safety protocols, additional equipment and monitoring, manage class bubbles and, since September, use new technology to teach a full curriculum via a mixture of face-to-face and blended learning.
Facing these unprecedented challenges, the role of the governing board (in whatever context) has never been more important as well from a strategic point of view.
The traditional role of a school governor is to contribute to the work of the governing body in ensuring high standards of achievement for all children and young people in the school. Whilst this purpose is going to depend on the constitution of the school and the status of the governing body, the Covid-19 pandemic has placed additional emphasis on the need to support the school leadership to ensure that rigorous procedures and policies are in place which work and are fit for purpose.
Each governor, no matter what type of school they are in must fulfil their 3 core functions:
Governors must also comply with the 'Nolan' principles of public service: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership
So, whilst the responsibility for the operation of the school will rest with the school leadership, governors must support that operational role by ensuring that the systems are in place so that the school is protected as far as possible from the effects and disruptions of Covid-19.
The key to a governor's role on Covid-19 issues will be scrutiny - check everything, ask questions in meetings and document it. There will need to be inevitably additional focus on safety and management of risk as we as contingency plans for education to continue. Each school leadership should look to their board for this level of support and scrutiny.