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Survey reveals pandemic’s impact on school governance ahead of national celebration event

The enormous contribution made to schools by an army of more than 300,000 volunteers will be highlighted and celebrated in the inaugural National School Governors’ Awareness Day on 22 February.

National School Governors’ Awareness Day will showcase a variety of governor perspectives on the role, support professional development of existing governors and provide a forum for governors to come together and discuss key themes and challenges in governance in 2022.

Many of the issues that will be discussed during the event have been highlighted in a survey by event organisers Strictly Education.

Governors and trustees from around the country were invited to share their views on the challenges and opportunities they have experienced since the pandemic.

Asked to select statements that closely reflected their views of governance during covid, more than 80% of respondents agreed that the virtual meetings, that have become the only way of meeting during the pandemic, had worked well.

There were some caveats: while a quarter of those surveyed said that attendance had improved during the pandemic, most likely because of the shift to online meetings, for some governors technology had been a challenge, and some complained that participation had not been as good as during virtual meetings.

Just 18% of those surveyed said the pandemic had had a negative impact on the effectiveness of governance in their school – 63% said that it had been unaffected and 19% said that it had actually improved.

Most governors agreed that the pandemic had actually made it easier for them to attend training; 60% of respondents agreed with the statement that it had made attending training easier. 32% had attended 3-5 hours of training since September 2021, with 22% attending 6-8 hours of training.

More than 90% of the 212 governors and trustees surveyed said that staff wellbeing and workload was an issue in their schools. A similar number (87%) agreed that governing bodies could have a positive impact on this issue by focusing on the issue more, making it a recurring meeting agenda item. Making an effort to express thanks to staff for their hard work through thank you’s and simple gestures such as cakes was another popular choice, along with auditing their school in this area.

One of the governors who took part in the survey said: “As I work full time the use of Teams and Zoom for meetings has made a real difference, as it has greatly increased my availability.”

Another commented: “I feel that all the governing bodies have continued to work well, finding new and creative ways to carry out monitoring and communicate, but overall it is better to build the team if we can meet more face to face.”

Steve Barker, an experienced governor with more than 30 years’ experience and head of governance services at event sponsor Strictly Education, said: “Our survey shows that governors and trustees have been in incredibly flexible in response to the pandemic but with the emergency finally showing signs of receding we need to be careful not to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’, abandoning working practices that have been highly effective for the vast majority of governing bodies and trust boards.

“While we don’t envisage governing bodies and trust boards maintaining a 100% online approach over the coming months there is much to be said for a blended approach as we hopefully leave the pandemic behind us, mixing online meetings with face-to-face, with a much more focused and stripped-down committee structure.”

Details of the National School Governors Awareness Day programme are available at and by signing up to the National School Governors’ Awareness Day Twitter feed at @SchoolGovDay.  

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