School governors have certainly had to adapt their ways of working in rapid and unforeseen ways during the extraordinary Covid period. Some of these changes will prove lasting and may well enhance how we do governance in the future.
Since the first lockdown in March 2020, governors have had to find new ways to build relationships, work with their executive teams and exercise effective oversight. Attending meetings and other key school events in person has been difficult or impossible. New working methods had to be established quickly. Adapting to “Zoom-world” was a steep but vital learning curve for many.
In addition, school closures (often at short notice) and ever-changing government guidance over health and safety requirements put extra pressure on staff and governors.
AGBIS has 800 to 900 schools in membership and supports thousands of governors. Many of them have been in contact over this difficult period and AGBIS has provided timely, relevant support and guidance where needed. As an organisation, we have seen many examples of governing boards that have risen superbly to the challenge, adapted well and adopted new ways of working. They have been conducting school business online, supporting SLTs remotely and attending key school events virtually.
“Just like schools, AGBIS has had to adapt and evolve the way it offers services to our members.”
Particular highlights have included not only regular virtual “drop-in” sessions for staff and pupils, but also chairs of governing boards recording their end of year speech day addresses, congratulating pupils and staff on their achievements in this most difficult of years.
Just like schools, AGBIS has had to adapt and evolve the way we offer services to our members to keep up with the ever-changing world.
For AGBIS, offering webinar training has meant that our engagement with members is at an all-time high, reaching over 5,000 members in 2020. Feedback from our members shows that many would like to see a more flexible approach to training in the future, where they can either attend seminars in person or log on to webinars.
We have also been able to offer reviews of governance and on-site training virtually as well as in person and this will continue after the pandemic. This allows us to be more responsive and efficient and support our members who can be located anywhere in the world.
Some of the changes adopted by governors and schools over the pandemic will be here to stay, as many now have Zoom and Microsoft Teams embedded into their communication methods. For example, communication between heads and chairs is likely to remain a mixture of online, email, text, phone and face-to-face, depending upon need and context. Many governing boards are planning to conduct their future committee meetings virtually, whilst still expecting full governing board meetings to be held in person.
Whatever challenges come next for our governors and schools, AGBIS will be here to support our members in whatever way possible. Please visit www.agbis.org.uk to find out more. If you are not a member and would like to find out more information about joining AGBIS, please email email@example.com.