Top Tips for Governor Meeting Agendas
The agenda for a governor meeting is set by the Chair (or Committee Chair), however the support of the Clerk is essential in putting together the agenda, and it is the Clerk who circulates the agenda and papers for the meeting. Here are some top tips for agendas:
- Start the agenda process in good time.
The statutory requirement (for Maintained Schools) is for the agenda to be sent out at least 7 days in advance of the meeting. Working back from that, and allowing time for communication between those setting/supplying the agenda and for collection of all the papers to be circulated, you will need to start the process well in advance of the meeting. A suggested time-line is:
3 weeks before the meeting: send a reminder to the Chair re the up-coming meeting; asking them to send you the draft agenda (it can be helpful to provide a template for them to amend) by the deadline of 2 weeks before the meeting. The Chair will need time to consult with the Headteacher. It is also a good idea to send the Chair and Headteacher the action log (ie the list of outstanding actions from previous meetings) so they can advise of any completions/updates to the log, and so they can use any outstanding actions to inform their agenda setting for the up-coming meeting.
2 weeks before the meeting: Receive the draft agenda from the Chair and work with the Headteacher/SLT to collect all papers referred to which should be circulated with the agenda (e.g. Headteacher's report, data packs, year to date budget figures, other reports, any documents which are being circulated 'for information' and policies - following update by SLT now requiring board-level review and ratification.)
10 days before the meeting: send the draft agenda with attached papers (can be links) to the Chair to approve that it is ready to be sent out (deadline 8 days before meeting.) When this approval is received, rename the document, so it is no longer 'draft'.
No less than 1 week before the meeting: send out the agenda with attached papers (can be links) to all governors and associate members, plus to any SLT who have been invited (and other attendees as appropriate - if in doubt, ask the Chair.)
- Work off a template which supports effective meetings.
A well laid out agenda will work wonders with ensuring the meeting keeps to task and will support the board to focus on its core roles of providing strategic leadership and holding to account through appropriate support and challenge.
There is no set way of laying out an agenda but there are some key principles (see the example template at the bottom of this page.)
- Key priority / high importance discussion items should be high up the agenda
- Papers should be clearly linked to the relevant agenda items
- It should be clear for each item who will be leading the meeting discussion for that item
There may be standing items (ie items which are on every agenda so can be included in the template) to ensure that the meeting receives a report/update relating to that item at that, and every, meeting (even if the report is 'no update since the last meeting').
It is worth the Chair and Clerk discussing use of timed agendas to help keep meetings on track. If the Chair agrees to this, the timings must be realistic (e.g. Headteacher's report will need a good chunk of time allocated, whereas a 'for information' item towards the bottom of the agenda should only need as long as it takes for the person leading on that item to say 'I trust you've all read the report attached for your information')
- Send out the Action Log with the agenda.
This will hopefully have been updated by the Chair and Headteacher during the drafting of the agenda and now can be sent out so that governors can be reminded of those actions still outstanding (where an action has been completed, it would be marked on the log as 'completed' and then will come off the log when it is next updated, ie when it goes out with the draft minutes of the up-coming meeting.)
If the action log is updated before the meeting, it will save time in the 'Matters Arising' part of the meeting, as only outstanding items will need to be discussed (and these may already have been put on the agenda by the Chair/Headteacher where they can be most appropriately be discussed in context).
- Does your board allow AOB?
It is a matter for the Governing Board to decide whether Any Other Business (AOB) will be accepted at its meetings. If the Governing Board has agreed to accept AOB, then whether individual items are accepted would typically be at the discretion of the Chair of the meeting. When the agenda is circulated, the Clerk would advise governors/invitees that they may submit requests for AOB (and if any are submitted, would pass these onto the Chair to decide.) Some boards also have an agenda item 'Requests for AOB' towards the start of the meeting, where requests can be made at the meeting (if accepted, the actual business is not brought until the AOB item at the bottom of the agenda.)