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Dear Clare - minutes of governors' meetings

Discussion in 'Governors' started by mystery10, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    When do minutes of governors' meetings have to be given to people who request to seem them? Can it wait until they have been approved at the next governors' meeting, so maybe three months after the meeting in question?

  2. I'm interested in others' views on this, as my understanding is that the Chair (and possibly the HT) check the minutes initially, after which they could be distributed (if the GB decide) to Governors prior to the next meeting. They are still "draft" minutes, and therefore confidential to the GB, until they have been formally approved at the next full Governing Body meeting.
    I'm not sure whether marking them as draft makes them less confidential, but I recognise there can be a gap of some months between the meeting and the minutes being published. In answer to the original question, I believe the minutes only become available to the public once they have been approved by the full GB, not just by the Chair. Any thoughts, anyone?
  3. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    There's a difference between what people outside the GB have a right to see and what the GB can decide to circulate.
    The GB can decide to do whatever it likes with its Draft Minutes, although good practice would suggest that the status of minutes should clearly be marked on them - our Draft Minutes are stated to be Draft both in a Header and a Watermark. There are no rules on circulating Draft Minutes other than those the GB makes for itself. On my GB the Chair of GB agrees Draft Minutes for circulation to other governors and the head is also asked to check them for any factual inaccuracies. Then they go to all governors. A similar procedure is followed for Committee Minutes. We don't put up Draft minutes on the noticeboard, only the signed/approved ones, but there's no reason why a GB couldn't do that if they want to. Minutes can only be approved by the GB (not the Chair), the Procedures Regulations say that the Minutes must be "signed (subject to the approval of the governing body) by the chair of the next meeting".
    When someone outside the GB can see the Minutes is more complicated, because there are two different laws that can apply - the Procedures Regulations and the Freedom of Information Act. The Procedures Regulations are clear, it is only the "signed minutes" of GBs/Committees that must be be made available, so no right for anyone to demand to see Draft Minutes. However, the Procedures Regualtions predate FOI and the right to see documents and information under FOI law is much wider, and FOI rights take precedence over the Procedures Regulations. There is no automatic exemption under FOI for Draft documents, and the GB deeming Draft Minutes as 'Confidential' also doesn't make them exempt under FOI either. In some circumstances the GB might be able to use the 'information intended for future publication' exemption to refuse to disclose Draft Minutes, but that is subject to a lot of conditions that many (most?) GBs would struggle to meet. So probably a FOI demand for a copy of Draft Minutes would have to be complied with.
  4. Interesting point.
    It might hinge around when minutes are regarded as being "published".
  5. The relevant Regulations the School (Governance) Procedures (England) Regulations 2003 state that the minutes should be made available as "soon as reasonably practicable" and this is usually taken to mean once the minutes have been approved as true record by the governing body.
    Clare Collins

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