27 Mar Social media and school governance
Tweeters posed questions to Michael Gove, the education secretary, last year using #AskGove. For every negative social media news item there’s a positive one about a school engaging online with their wider community.
This article focuses on how you can first participate as yourself, not as your school or governing body; because how can you know if it’s right for your school if you haven’t tried it yourself?
You don’t have to talk online – it’s OK to lurk – but at least be aware of where the conversations are. The DfE has quite a good Twitter account, mixing website content announcements with answering questions. Your local authority (LA) may already have a Facebook page – do you know what they post?
You don’t have to spend all day reading updates. Create alerts to be notified when your LA tweets about schools, if someone mentions your school name online or if someone talks about their Ofsted inspection. Catch up when you have time.
1. If you don’t have one already, create an email address for free. Gmail and Hotmail are the most popular.
2. Create a Facebook account. ‘Like’ the pages by organisations such as the DfE, NGA and SGOSS to receive updates.
3. Create a Twitter account and search for other governors, organisations and topics. Follow the Tweeters you like, unfollow the Tweeters you don’t.
It depends what you want to share/read/view. Of the two big networks, I use Twitter more than Facebook for bothwork and leisure – it’s quick and easy to share information or a quick photo. Try each site and look around for topics of interest to discover what will suit you best.
Should I connect with pupils and parents?
This is the biggest concern among governors I’ve talked to (and, incidentally, more than 10% of cases reported to the GTC in 2011 involved teachers using social media or email to contact pupils). Twitter and Facebook accounts can be private or public so, to a certain extent, you control who sees your updates, but remember that anything written online can be republished elsewhere. As a governor you’re a representative of the governing body but not its collective ‘voice’. My advice would be to proceed with caution.
Do we need a social media policy for our governors?
You’re already bound by a code of conduct – perhaps introduce a simple document reiterating that this code applies online too.
Modern Governor modules: view the synopsis here
Online participation guide for school governors (PDF). Created by Dave Briggs and Modern Governor for NCOGS http://bit.ly/S6F2yP
Guides to Twitter and Facebook for local government:
Example school social media policy: http://edudemic.com/2012/06/school-social-media-policy/
Some good school governance Tweeters to follow
@educationgovuk @NGAMedia @schoolsgovnet
This article was written by Elaine Walton Product Manager: Modern Governor and published in NGA Governing Matters March/April 2013