S is for... Segmenting the agenda

Can you plan the agenda of a Governing Board like a Festive meal?

After 3 nights of clerking this week, I thought it would be useful to share the last of my November blogs on streamlining and sorting your agenda. Believe me it is needed by some schools - ha ha.

Over the next few months, I will be sharing aspects of my Shaping S.T.R.A.T.E.G.I.C Governance ‘think-list’ with you. The ‘think-list’ was created to help school Governors and Headteachers to get the best out of their governing relationship; helping them to ‘unblur’ the lines between strategic governance and operational management.

November has been the month for sharing tips and suggestions for sorting and streamlining your agendas, making space for the important things that need to be talked about.

So far this month, we have looked in more detail at how to sort your agenda, by focusing on what matters, and streamlining your agenda, with helpful think points to consider before setting them. Now I turn to agenda segmenting.

I have worked with many boards, and one thing that strikes me is that most of the agendas are jumbled up, with little thought to their structure or content. They have been built over time and consequently lack rhythm or purpose. So as the festive season is up on us - I cant believe its the 1st of December tomorrow, next time you start to plan your agenda - have a think about structuring it as you would planning your menu for Christmas Day, or other celebration event.

I know that I tend to take a lot of time thinking about the starter, main course, dessert choices, and whether you have extra courses before, during or after. So how can this planning translate into setting your agenda?

A typical meal has three courses, so why not use this methodology in your agenda setting:

Choosing the starter: starters shouldn't be too filling and like appetisers, they should set you up for the rest of the meal. In governance, starting your meetings with appetisers, or light-bites of information aimed at improving the knowledge can lead to more effective boards. I work with many boards, who have 15 minute knowledge sessions at the start to get the brain functioning. This approach to a ‘starter’ helps to gear and warm governors up, who will then be better able to contribute to key decisions needed later in the meeting.

What’s for Main Course? Depending on the time of year, this will be different, as things become the focus in Autumn, Spring and Summer. Focus on what you need to - plan across the year, ensuring that all ‘must-dos’ are included across the year. Remember to have a good mix of protein, carbs and colour - in other words, have variety and interesting items that have good nutritional (or governing) value.

Room for dessert? my favourite part - and I always need to leave room for this - so plan your meetings carefully so that you get time for your governance dessert! Hearing stories from children about their successes and how they feel about the school - helps you to triangulate the rest of the meeting - after all that’s why we govern - to improve outcomes for children.

Next month, i’ll begin to explore, T for transparency being clear on roles and responsibilities, delegation and lines of accountability.