S is for... Springing cleaning the agenda

In the next of my November blogs, I continue to focus on the ’S’ from Insight to Impact Consulting's Shaping S.T.R.A.T.E.G.I.C Governance ‘think-list’. 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.

It covers nine essential areas for making the shift to becoming more strategic, and provides ideas and opportunities for both Governors and Headteachers to embed some of this back at school.

Earlier this month, I looked at how Governors can sort their agenda - by letting the important items bubble to the surface; in other words, helping Governors to prioritise and focus on what’s important to the governing board. This time I’m focusing on streamlining the agenda.

Governing Board agendas have become cluttered overtime, with changes to the education system, the increase in accountability, and the need for Governors to know much more information than they did in the past. Making space for the important strategic conversations, will help governors to be more strategic.

So when you are setting your agenda for future meetings, consider:

  • Why is the item on the agenda and what is the purpose?

  • Creating clear outcomes: by clearly identifying the objective of each item on the agenda, you create a focus, ensuring everyone is clear on the purpose of the item, helps Governors to target discussion around that objective.

  • Being timely: setting a time limit for each agenda item, ensures that you get to each item and that you don't run out of time.

  • Identifying roles and responsibilities: be clear who is leading on each item.

  • Using questions to bring a problem solving approach: if your agenda is a list of items for discussion, then that’s what you will do - just discuss. However, posing the item for discussion as a question can help people to respond in a way that focuses on finding answers and solutions.

  • Making it short and easy to read: avoiding agendas that are too long, allows governors to look over the whole agenda, and get a sense of what they should be prepared to talk about - improving preparation.

  • Self-reflecting: routinely discussing what went well and what could be improved, and building this into future practice.

Next time, we’ll explore a different approach to getting the most out of your agenda and your conversations; and I apologise in advance, as there will be a festive theme - it is nearly Christmas you know!