The Online Board Essentials is effectively the same Board Essentials one day training, but this is done remotely. Given the travel restrictions due to Covid-19 and the potential cost-saving of working remotely, this training has certain benefits. Ideally the board members would still meet physically so that they may more easily discuss and participate in the interactive sessions, but there are of course other options whereby everyone is working remotely. Typically the Head of School or other senior administrator would work as the eyes and ears during the remote sessions and ensure that the relevant materials can be distributed at the appropriate times.
We have designed an interactive training that allows information sharing so that a common understanding can be reached about the board’s roles and responsibilities, as well as activities to engage trustees in dialogue to add perspective and relevance to their training. While bespoke training can be arranged a typical full day would be broken into the following sessions:
Roles and Responsibilities:
This session outlines the roles and responsibilities of trustees and of the board, and how these differ from the school’s leadership and administration. We use exercises to engage in dialogue about where the boundaries lie between governance and leadership, and those areas that require the board and Head of School to work together.
This session dives deeper into the board’s responsibilities, particularly those related to financial oversight, risk management and compliance elements that are the backbone of governance.
The strategic thinking sessions delves into the process of creating a strategic plan, but more importantly the need for trustees to assume an approach of thinking strategically. This reinforces the message that the day to day operations are the role of the Head of School, while the board’s role is to work on strategy and policy (in addition to their fiduciary duties).
With the fiduciary and strategic elements of governance understood, participants explore other dimensions of boards that lead to more fulfilling work that ultimately has a greater impact on the school as a whole and student learning. Through this exploration, trustees can begin to appreciate how they may approach their important work in different ways that lead to greater effectiveness.
Research tells us that the relationship between the Head of School and the board is crucial and oftentimes when schools become dysfunctional or inefficient, the source can be traced back to cracks in the crucial relationship. This session focuses on good practice and brings into the light many of the key responsibilities of trustees to ensure that working relationships are appropriate and effective.
Avoiding Cognitive Bias:
This session takes a slightly different approach to governance and focuses on the importance of trustees being able to approach problems without undue influence or baggage. We help trustees to genuinely focus on the long-term success of the school by exploring modes where bias may be introduced unconsciously, and ways to combat bias in meetings.
Developing Essential Agreements:
The final session of the day helps participants to reflect on their learning during the day and to identify areas that the board may wish to focus on. The Essential Agreements is a succinct summary of those elements that the board identify as essential for effective meetings, or aspects that they wish to avoid in future meetings.