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Modern Governor Core Skills collection: Working with others

Cogs by Arthur John Picton licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Modern Governor Core Skills collection: Working with others

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As detailed at the end of last week, Modern Governor’s Core Skills collection is designed to support governors and trustees in responding to the DfE’s call for ‘professional governance’. This means encouraging a professional approach to governance, including governing board meetings, interactions between governors and how a governing board is perceived by its school’s community and beyond. The Core Skils modules cover a wide range of soft skills and are intended to develop the professional capacity of governors – to work well together, to manage themselves and above all to be effective in all aspects of their voluntary role. The modules will be released during the course ot this term – Autumn 2015 – and the first collection, entitled Working with others, is available to Modern Governor subscribers now.

Why is this important?

Governance isn’t a solitary role. In normal circumstances we meet infrequently, and this can lead to long agendas, often punctuated by all-too-brief face-to-face discussions around topics which we’d much rather go into greater depth about. Those relatively brief meetings – and the scattered and sometimes unclear communications which take place in the periods between them – have become more important with the increasing expectations on governors and trustees to take a strategic lead in the direction of every school and academy. This means that making those meetings effective is critical – as well as our interactions as governors around and beyond them.

Working with others

This first collection of Modern Governor Core Skills modules consists of modules intended to make governors more effective when they work with others. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every governor will need to enrol on every module – but those who feel that they could do with some support or pointers to help themselves become more effective can complete as many of the modules as they wish. As adult learning is effectively about helping adults to help themselves learn, it’s our intention that governors who do these modules will be able to see parallels, follow threads and understand helpful principles they can learn from these professional development courses – and apply them in their governing board and beyond.

Here are the current modules in Modern Governor Core Skills: Working with others. If your governing or trust board subscribes, then these modules are available to you now – simply log in to to find, enrol on and complete them.

Assert yourself

Screen shot from Assert Yourself moduleOne of the most important and yet difficult to master aspects of interpersonal communication is assertiveness. Assertiveness is what we often call ‘standing up for yourself’ and it forms an important aspect of relationships – both professional and personal. As governors our role is critical to the life and direction of a school and its community – so being able to be appropriately assertive in our dealings with others – including the school leadership team, other governors, and external contacts such as inspectors – is an important skill to develop. This module gives an understanding of what being assertive is (and, just as importantly, isn’t), how a lack of assertiveness can affect our professional relationships, how to address any issues in this area and provides information for governors who want to explore this area further.

Facilitation skills

Screen shot from Facilitation moduleOur responsibilities as governors will vary, but as long as our governing board takes a collective approach to governance then at some point we’ll all be asked to work with others to generate and shape ideas, manage interactions and ensure that they are effective and worthwhile. This course is intended to discover the appropriate occasions to use facilitation and look at the key skills required to be an effective facilitator. Althought you may not use these skills and techniques directly as a governor, having an understanding of them could aid your personal career and give you an understanding of how ideas can be generated and shaped by working in a group.

Giving and receiving feedback

Screen shot from Giving and receiving feedback moduleThis module explores the meaning of the term feedback and outlines why feedback is important, both in everyday life and in the world of work and professional relationships. Effective feedback has obvious application in our role as governors or trustees as we work with colleagues on a board or committee. Governors can use this module find out how to seek, receive and use feedback to improve your performance and effectiveness and learn about the skills needed in giving feedback to others.

Meeting skills

Screenshot from Meeting skills moduleIt is recommended that governors use this module in conjunction with The role of the clerk and Governing body meetings e-learning modules, which are part of the main collection of Modern Governor modules. The professional clerk’s role is critical in full governing board meetings, but not all governing board committees are clerked. This module takes a more generic and in-depth look into the dynamics of meetings – as well as guiding you through when it is appropriate to organise a meeting, who should be invited, preparation for the attendees, controlling a meeting and determining the outcomes of a successful meeting.  After completing this module participants will be able to plan meetings, inform and prepare attendees, structure and control meetings and record the outcome of a meeting.

Questioning Techniques

Screen shot from Questioning techniques moduleThis module provides advice and practical examples of questioning techniques which can be used in many situations – including recruitment interviews. It may be useful where governors are asked to be involved in the recruitment process for a headteacher or other senior leader, but goes beyond essential ideas of open and closed questions to explore probing, funneling and behavioural questions – as well as questions to avoid.

More to come

As these modules are adapted from Learning Pool’s ever-growing catalogue of e-learning modules, it’s very likely that the number of Core Skills will grow and develop beyond those initially released this term. In the meantime, look out for the future collections as they are released during the course of this term – on release all will immediately be available to existing Modern Governor subscribers – and your governing board if you’d like to sign up for the service.

Image: Cogs by Arthur John Picton – licensed under CC BY 2.0.


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