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FAQs – Good practice

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Q. A question arose recently regarding minuting meetings and mentioning names. Can you clarify for me what is best practice?

The principle is that minutes are a public record of the GB business, and as such, shouldn’t focus on individuals, but offices. Therefore, best practice suggests you would minute that the “Headteacher” advised, rather than Mrs Bloggs and that “Governors / Trustees” questioned rather than Mr Bloggs.

How governors vote should remain confidential (unless they ask for it to be recorded) so it is appropriate not to put names into a discussion (e.g. Mr A said this, Mrs B said that) as this would identify a person’s point of view.

You do, of course, put names in when someone is being asked to do something, congratulated on an achievement or contribution and so on. You would also record the name of a governor who is submitting a visit report or has been on training etc.

It is a fine line, but just hold in mind the principle of a public body, and remember that the minutes are a record of what the Governing Body (or governors) did and said and agreed, not what Mrs X and Mr Y and Miss Z did, said, agreed!

Q. I wonder if you can help me with a model confidentiality statement for our Governing Body to sign at the beginning of each year – the Chair of Govs liked that idea and asked me to draw one up – I‘m not sure where to start!!

We have a good example of a Governors Code of Conduct statement which includes a statement of confidentiality. See School Governors Code of Conduct statement.

Q. The Head and Chair of Governors are settling matters before a GB meeting and being offensive to any challenges during the meeting. As clerk what do I do?

This sort of situation is always very difficult for a clerk especially if you have a good relationship with your Governing Body.  However, if the Head and the Chair are deciding matters before the meeting, it should be other governors who challenge this at the meeting. Only if there appears to be a breach in the law should the clerk challenge at the meeting.

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