During school closures, it might be necessary to arrange virtual meetings with staff and governors. For many staff in the school, this might be the first time they have hosted or participated in a virtual meeting and just like in face-to-face meetings there are a few points to consider beforehand to help things go smoothly.
N.B. For governor meetings, there are already provisions made in ‘The School Governance (England) (Roles, Procedures, and Allowances) Regulations 2013’ to allow for alternative arrangements for governors to participate or vote at meetings including by telephone or video conferencing.
Choose the right tools for the job:
When planning your meeting think ‘what is the key reason for this meeting?’ Is it to discuss an action point, to review/approve a new policy or to receive update reports? The answer to the question will determine which type of system is right.
For example, if the meeting is a discussion point where it would be helpful to see reactions as well as hear responses as you would in a face-to-face meeting, then in this instance, a video call option would work well. If you are reviewing policies, then an application that allows collaborative working may be best. Whereas if you need to review reports and documents then a screen sharing solution is a better option.
There are lots of free and paid-for options available in the market, a few examples are zoom, skype, governorhub, senso and google tools (sheets, docs, slides, and drive). I have made a note of the main features each of these systems offer in the table below.
Prepare for the meeting
The main take-away here would be to test the system before the meeting starts and if you are the organizer familiarise yourself with some of the features.
Most systems allow invitations to be sent that simply require attendees to click a link to join the meeting. However, if attendees do require a password or an account creating ensure this has been done well in advance and everyone has had a chance to check they go login okay.
Alongside the invitation function, many systems also send automatic reminders and include an ‘add to calendar’ function. However, I find a quick email on the morning of the meeting can be helpful to confirm attendance and also share any other useful information, document or links that might be needed during the session.
N.B virtual governor meetings have to be quorate for any official votes or decisions to take place.
It is also recommended that an agenda is circulated before the meeting starts, this will help ensure that all attendees know the purpose of the meeting and what they will be talking about. It would also be good to share the below information with attendees prior to the meeting starting.
- Meeting structure e.g. who will be delivering each section and approximately how long each point will be discussed.
- Who will be attending the meeting
- Any relevant documents, links or files
During the meetings
Just like in face-to-face meetings some general rules of etiquette apply to the virtual world too.
- Be on time, make sure you have tested the system and are ready for the meeting in advance of the start time, this includes reviewing any papers you may have been sent in advance.
- Don’t stare at your phone, check emails or perform other tasks while the meeting is on (it is especially obvious during video calls!).
- Don’t interrupt or talk over other people in the meeting
- If possible, try and be in a quiet place during the meeting or use the mute microphone button to minimise any background noise.
Some systems also include a meeting recording feature, using the this will help attendees focus on the meeting rather than note-taking.
After the meeting
Once your meeting has ended there are a few activities that you can do to help ensure the meeting was effective. Key things people need to know are
- Any actions or deliverables that they are responsible for
- When those actions are due
- When the next meeting or follow up will take place
It is also important to ask if any attendees have any questions following the meeting, it might be helpful to ask how they felt the meeting went and if there is anything that can be done to improve future meetings.
Oh, and don’t forget to end the meeting session on your device!
How we are able to support you to report to governors remotely
Our easy to digest Headteacher’s Report can be accessed from anywhere and is easy to share remotely with governors, trustees, and central MAT teams. All information is clear, understandable and presented in a professional format.
All reports are pre-populated with benchmarking data which is managed remotely, this includes synchronising current MIS data and all DfE sets. We link with all major platforms including SIMS, RM, Arbor, and ScholorPack.
Our Headteacher’s Report has been updated to include an optional COVID-19 update section which can be used to update on the current arrangements, measures, and plan within your school.
To view a sample of the report – click here
Summary of virtual meeting platforms available
These are many more systems available in the market, below are a few systems that I have had experience with.
|Name||Video & Audio Call Options||Screen Recording & Sharing||Supports Collaborative Working||Document Storage Solution||Specific Education Features|
|Yes (Hangouts)||Yes (Hangouts)||Yes (Sheets, Docs and Slides)||Yes (Drive)||No|