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Are you meeting regularly?

Discussion in 'Governors' started by netherhead, May 4, 2020.

  1. netherhead

    netherhead New commenter

    School is closed and only the very essentials are happening with staff working from home for the most part.
    Staffing for September is sorted as is finance. Exams aren't happening this year etc.
    Yet many governors in my region want to have online meetings. They are unwilling to meet face to face in socially distanced arenas and class themselves as vulnerable, but like playing with the new toy of Microsft Teams.
    In view of my recent post re GDPR failures in sending out sensitive data to insecure home computers, tablets and laptops, it would be interesting to know if other GBs are holding internet meetings when schools are closed and just ticking over and if they are, how are they managing the security aspects of governors downloading and viewing sensiteve data and documents on to personal and possibly unsecured equipment.
    Essentially should GBs meet electronically if there is no urgent need?
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    The government guidance is that governance must continue. The NGA website explains in detail. It's perfectly possible to have secure online meetings. As to sending out documents electronically, surely that's part of normal practice and you can continue to use existing systems?
    Our council has also issued guidance. I recommend that you check NGA, DFE and council websites.
  3. mbee1

    mbee1 Occasional commenter

    We're holding meetings in MS Teams. Governance must continue. We've had two committee meetings so no more than 6 but the challenge will be the full termly meeting in June when all of us will be present.

    Interestingly netherhead, you mentioned sending out sensitive data to insecure home computers. What did you do before lockdown? Do you not send papers out prior to a meeting? We use GovernorHub, as do our LA, so we know everything is secure Surely Governors see papers before the meeting?
  4. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    We're having our first formal online GB meeting in about an hour's time!

    The DfE guidance is clear that GBs statutory functions continue to apply so GBs need to meet. Video/Audio conferencing is recommended even if physical meeting with social distancing were possible (wouldn't have thought it was unless you held it the gym or something).



    Our LA have set up a governor facility for all schools that includes a meeting GB video conference function. It includes the documents. LA say the security of it has been approved by them as meeting necessary standards. (Just read mbee's post, ours is also GovernorHub)

    What are all these documents with sensitive personal data that your GB is sending out and which seems to worry you so much? GBs should be focussing on the strategic, I can't remember the last time we had documents with sensitive personal data in them. HT's PM and Pay review is the only regular one that comes to mind.
  5. Lucy2711

    Lucy2711 Occasional commenter

    We use GovernorHub and meetings have continued as before. In fact, I think we're getting papers a little bit more in advance than usual (head is notorious for sending papers just hours before the meeting despite the fact most governors are working!).
  6. netherhead

    netherhead New commenter

    Unfortunately, GovernorHub is not something used in this neck of the woods and yes, all sorts of documents are sent out electronically to governors to download onto their own electronic equipment hence my concerns about GDPR.

    All too often it is easy to identify some students and staff, and it does not take too much intelligence to understand school finance spreadsheets which are regularly sent out.

    Meetings are rarely about the strategic and too often focus inappropriately on the day to day running of the school. Most of the valued strategic discussions I have with the head and senior team happen outside GB meetings.

    I am fully aware of the NGA guidance about continuity but there are chunks of what appears on some of our agendas such as half termly data reports that is irrelevant as school is closed and teachers cannot properly assess in the current circumstances so no data is being submitted.

    To me, at the moment it is far better to hold fewer but more effective meetings where matters that are relevant and perhaps pressing are discussed rather than continue with the meetings that were scheduled last September.

    Thanks for the information about GovernorHub. I have passed this on to the head and our DPO for their consideration. It looks far more secure than our current arrangements.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    We never identify students by name but why wouldn't you identify staff by name (unless it's information about them that should be kept confidential)? There's no reason at all that governors (and pupils and parents) shouldn't know that Mr X is Head of PE or Ms Y is Head of KS2? GDPR dos not say you can never tell anyone anything about anyone else.

    Why do you think finance reports to governors are confidential? What do you put in them that would bring them within GDPR?
  8. mbee1

    mbee1 Occasional commenter

    I must admit there was little to report by way of data at our meeting last week. We had an assessment point in the week prior to lockdown but many of the children and staff had lost some focus.

    We had misgivings about sending papers out to various personal email accounts some years ago resulting in all Governors having a school email account. In my mind this should be a done thing in all schools. Likewise some three years ago our LA bought into GovernorHub making it free for LA schools and all our documents are uploaded to it whether it be by the school or the LA.

    You also need to decide what is confidential. Don't forget that minutes and financial documents are, by and large, in the public domain and there should be very few "confidential" items that need to be excluded. Pupils are never identified by name but, like Rott Weiler says, there is no reason staff can't be identified unless it's something about them that is confidential, for example, Mrs S has tended her resignation.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    So do we, although it's caused a number of IT headaches for some governors.

    Having papers on GovernorHub doesn't avoid the need for governors to download them so doesn't avoid GDPR/confidentiality issues. In practice unless you have two screens available we've found it difficult to both read the papers on screen and participate in the meeting.
  10. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    It's worth a discussion between clerk, chair and HT to decide which items can be omitted or deferred, or reduced to "To take note of the Whatever-it-is Report."
    Might even be an opportunity to make meetings more efficient.
  11. mbee1

    mbee1 Occasional commenter

    Our LA have issued guidance to Heads and Chairs on how to keep the full termly meeting focused during the current situation. Their draft agenda only gives what we must discuss and suggests deferring anything else until the Autumn term if it can be.
  12. netherhead

    netherhead New commenter

    Coincidentally a list of staff resignations and retirements with full names has just been emailed to all governors by the chair and clerk.
    At least one parent governor shares the household computer with their children.
  13. mbee1

    mbee1 Occasional commenter

    Assuming that’s a personal email account I think that is out of order. In my opinion all Governors should have a school email account.
    All too often, households have family email accounts that the spouse or partner of a Governor can access and this breaches confidentiality.

    That’s why something like GovernorHub is an ideal solution. Everything from school and the LA is uploaded there and an email is sent to my school email account saying I’ve got something to look out. I rarely print stuff off these days as I can access the school WiFi (when physical meetings take place), open GovernorHub and have the documents open online. Sometimes, the DHT, who attends all meetings as an observer, also put documents up on a whiteboard for anyone who has technical problems.

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