Trustee and chair of governors, Naureen Khalid opens her lockdown diary to reveal that governance in the time of coronavirus is a non-stop job

 

Sunday June 7

Governance isn’t a nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday job

Governance isn’t a nine-to-five, Monday-to-Friday job. We balance our day jobs and family life with governing our schools. “Governance” can happen at any time.

If Covid hadn’t happened, I would have been walking around London today with my governor friend, Jo, and my teacher friend, Rachel, admiring the capital’s hidden green spaces for the open garden squares weekend. Instead we held the weekly governor Twitter #UKGovChat on Zoom. It was lovely to see people and put faces to Twitter handles. I hadn’t heard of Zoom before March. Now, I seem to have a Zoom session almost every week.

 

Monday June 8

These meetings are allow us to challenge and support each other

Today I had a Skype meeting with our head and our trust’s regional director. These regular meetings allow the school, the MAT and the local governing body (LGB) to come together and review what’s been happening, and to challenge and support each other. Today’s meeting focused on how the school has adapted to working during the crisis and the arrangements that have been put in place for opening up to more pupils.

 

Tuesday June 9

Headship is a lonely place at the best of times, and much more so now

Tonight I had an online meeting to go through the risk register of one of the schools. It also gave me a chance to ask the head how she was and how the staff were coping with having more pupils back. We also discussed the announcement that plans for all primary children to return for a month before the summer have been dropped.

Effective governance is a balance between challenge and support. Covid has meant we are navigating our way through unchartered territory. Headship is a lonely place at the best of times, and much more so now, so governors need to ensure they really are supporting heads and their teams.

This meeting was followed by a Twitter chat on the importance of governance at a time of crisis, organised by the British Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society. The number of participants demonstrated that this is a topic that governors are really thinking about.

 

Wednesday June 10

It’s important that potential new governors are clear about expectations

I received details of two people interested in joining a board. I forwarded their CVs to the rest of the governors and, if we decide they are potential candidates, I’ll arrange an online chat with them. It’s important that would-be governors are clear about expectations.

 

Thursday June 11

I haven’t been able to conduct an on-site safeguarding visit

One of the LGBs I chair is meeting on June 22 and papers will be going out tomorrow. I haven’t been able to conduct an on-site safeguarding visit. Instead, the staff member responsible and I had an online meeting. During the current crisis it is essential that governors ask questions around safeguarding and assure ourselves that the school is doing all that it can to keep vulnerable pupils safe.

The secondary school had drawn up a risk assessment for its wider opening, which it sent to the LGB for approval. Governors asked questions and sought clarifications of a few points from the head. Today, we heard that the MAT has approved it.

 

Friday June 12

Having our risk assessment externally audited has given us confidence

The wider opening of the trust’s primaries has gone well and we’ve received many positive comments. We had decided to get our risk assessment externally audited, which has given trustees and school leaders confidence that we have identified and mitigated any risks. I attended the last LGB meeting for one of the schools today. We thanked the head and the staff for the brilliant way they are handling the crisis.

I emailed my presentation on the role of governors for the online researchEDNorwich event. I think it’s very important that the public, and especially teachers, understand our role – which is why I am happy to share this diary with you.