From the National Governance Association (NGA) Regarding Coronavirus information for Governing Boards

Monitoring priorities for governing boards during partial school closures

Updated 21 January 2021

We updated this information on 21 January to reflect the latest guidance on free school meals and COVID-19 testing for school staff and pupils.

This information sheet compiles the monitoring priorities that we recommend governing boards pay particular attention to at this time. You can use this to help focus your discussions with school leaders. 

Monitoring priorities covered in this information sheet include:

  • Risk management and safeguarding
  • Wellbeing across the school community
  • Providing remote education
  • Maintaining the curriculum and continuity of learning for all pupils
  • Support to reduce the impact of lockdown on disadvantaged pupils
  • Resource allocation and management
  • Asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for all pupils and staff (updated 21 January)

The Department for Education (DfE) have updated their guidance Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak, detailing what all schools will need to do from the start of the autumn term.

COVID-19 testing for staff and pupils

Governing boards should keep abreast of the capacity in their schools and trusts to deliver lateral flow testing to pupils and staff based on the guidance and financial resources available.

  • schools should test staff regularly (twice weekly where possible)
  • staff in secondary schools, including special schools and alternative provision, will continue to be tested in school
  • primary, school-based nursery and maintained nursery staff will be asked to use self-swab kits to test themselves at home twice a week (schools will start to receive delivery of these kits from 18 January)
  • schools should test pupils twice upon their return to school
  • the rollout of daily contact testing has been paused
  • testing is “strongly encouraged” but not mandatory

Further reading

Further information regarding Covid-19 for Governing Boards

Page updated 08/02/2021

Release date: 18/12/2020

Following the announcement on 15 December that rapid-result COVID-19 tests will be made available to schools and colleges in the new year, the government confirmed a staggered rollout of testing for secondary schools and colleges from the beginning of January yesterday (17 December).

Secondary schools and colleges will operate a staggered return following the Christmas holiday. All non-exam year groups will be offered full-time remote education, as close as possible to that which pupils would get in class, during the first week of term with face-to-face education for all resuming on 11 January 2021. 


Sam Henson, director of policy and information at the National Governance Association, said:

“Large scale testing is clearly an important priority but the lateness of this announcement and the huge degree of pressure that this places on school leaders as a result is unacceptable and irresponsible. NGA is deeply concerned that the timing of this announcement and accompanying guidance will have a detrimental impact on the welfare and wellbeing of those working in schools and in particular those leading schools and academy trusts. The lack of consideration for logistical issues associated with setting up a testing programme at the scale envisaged is further indication that the Department for Education’s policy-making process is slow to understand how schools function. The expectation for schools to assemble a volunteer workforce and roll this out in the next few working days is both unreasonable and unviable. 

“NGA is also aware of concerns raised by members and colleagues regarding the suggestion included within the guidance that those governing could form part of the testing workforce within schools. Governing boards have a strategic ‘eyes on, hands off’ remit in school and trust leadership, with volunteers contributing valuable time, skills and expertise to ensure the best education for all pupils. We must make it clear that any contribution to the testing workforce requirements is entirely voluntary, and there will be no expectation for governors and trustees to take on this additional role, as we completely understand that many do not have the personal or professional circumstances to allow them to do so on top of the huge amount of time they already give to their school. Where governors and trustees do opt to take on such a role of their own accord, this is completely separate to their governance role, and should not detract from the board’s primary role of strategically supporting school leaders as they roll out mass testing.   

“Governing boards have significant responsibilities to support the wellbeing of those employed in their schools and trusts. On their behalf, we join those seeking assurances that school staff will not be expected to carry out any invasive medical procedure.”

Coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on the 11 March 2020. It is now a major concern for school leaders monitoring and dealing with the risks and implications in an evolving situation.

The government has announced that all state schools will close to almost all pupils until further notice. The closure will take effect from the afternoon of Friday 20th March. Nurseries, private schools and sixth forms should also follow this guidance. The closure will apply to all children, except those of key workers and those who are “most vulnerable”, including those with social workers and education, health and care plans. The cabinet office has published a list of the key worker categories.

This is an unprecedented and extremely difficult situation. It will lead to more questions than there are answers over the coming days and weeks. Those governing will want to support their schools the best way that they can at the same time as dealing with their own personal circumstances. They will also be considerate of the enormous task that staff have in ensuring continuity of education and making the reduced provision work on the ground.

NGA are producing information sheets on a regular basis containing key messages about the Coronavirus, schools and governing boards taking into account the evolving situation and the implications for school governance.

Guidance is also on available on continuing the business of the governing board during these challenging circumstances. This guidance covers business priorities and other business; the work undertaken by panels; taking urgent decisions; and holding virtual meetings successfully.

Below is the guidance issued in order of publication by the NGA/DfE or other bodies

(The NLAGB is not responsible for the content contained in these documents)

NGA-COVID-Monitoring-priorities-21012021.pdf NGA-COVID-Monitoring-priorities-21012021.pdf
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Type : pdf
NGA-Virtual-Governance-Guide-06012021.pdf NGA-Virtual-Governance-Guide-06012021.pdf
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NGA-Virtual-Meeting-Logistics-Nov-2020.pdf NGA-Virtual-Meeting-Logistics-Nov-2020.pdf
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Type : pdf
NGA-COVID-19-Issue-8-Guidance-4-June-2020.pdf NGA-COVID-19-Issue-8-Guidance-4-June-2020.pdf
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Type : pdf
NGA-COVID-19-Issue-6-Appendix-14-May-2020.pdf NGA-COVID-19-Issue-6-Appendix-14-May-2020.pdf
Size : 605.432 Kb
Type : pdf

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