Every meeting of the school governing body and statutory committees must be clerked and minutes taken. Keith Revell, Smart School’s Governor Services Manager, shares some key information and good practice in how to ensure that your governing board meetings are recorded accurately and objectively.
WHAT ARE THE GOVERNING BOARD MINUTES FOR?
Minutes must demonstrate how well a Governing Body discharges its functions, in particular their challenge and strategic support for the school. They are part of the primary evidence to show that the school is led and managed in a competent, legal and transparent manner.
Minutes must show that governors are achieving the three core aims: to set a vision, ethos and strategic direction, to hold the head teacher to account for educational and staff performance and to ensure financial resources are well spent. Above all, minutes should show that governors challenge all they are being told and all they are seeing to ensure those three core principles are being achieved. Accurate minute taking by the clerk is vitally important for a governing body to function effectively.
Minutes provide an historical record of the business of the governing body. The minutes must record all discussions that have taken place, the decisions made by the governing body and the action needed by when and by whom. How often do you find that the review of actions under “Matters Arising” are skipped through with unactioned actions being glossed over or simply left to the next meeting? If they were important enough to be allocated, they must be important enough to be completed in the expected timeframe.
WHO READS THESE MINUTES?
Minutes can be read by anyone, but will almost certainly be considered by Ofsted inspectors. They may use them for judging leadership and management. So, you may want to consider the extent to which your minutes show evidence of that as outlined in the Education Inspection Framework.
Have you ever looked at your minutes to see how many strategic Qs and As have been included? It is a quick and easy way to see how much challenge you are making.
WHY IS THE ROLE OF CLERK IMPORTANT?
The clerk plays an important role in governing body effectiveness, not least by ensuring the governors have efficient administration support and are offered procedural advice and guidance. They need to work in partnership with the chair of governors, the other governors and the headteacher, making sure the governing body’s work is well organised.
Smart School’s clerks are all fully trained in how to write minutes and they know exactly what to record during a meeting, but also what not to record. The minutes are not a verbatim record of all the discussion, especially if it’s not strategic or relevant to an agenda item. Above all, they look out for challenge and evidence of leadership. Next time you read your minutes, perhaps bear this in mind to see how you are faring.