Guidance on Governance in Catholic Maintained Schools

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Guidance on Governance in Catholic Maintained Schools during the Current Exceptional Closure Period

Issued - April 2020 

  1. Regular Meetings – Board of Governors and Committees thereof

In line with Current advice on social distancing, and in particular in light of the Prime Minister’s statement of 23 March 2020, schools should not be organising to physically meet as a board or as committees for the foreseeable future. It may be possible to conduct some urgent business using available technology, though it is imperative that the following points are given due consideration:

  1. Meeting the Requirements of GDPR

Where governors are endeavouring to progress or conclude certain matters at this time through the use of technology, the requirements of the GDPR regulations will still apply in the normal way.

Skype/Facetime/Video Conference etc[1] – Governors should secure a private space from which to participate in the online meeting, and should ensure that the conversation cannot be overheard by anyone else in the household. The chairperson should remind governors of the importance of confidentiality in the normal way, and should seek additional assurance that no other parties are privy to proceedings in any way.

Electronic Documents – Governors are likely to be making greater use of email to keep in touch and to exchange documents and other information, or to reach agreement on straightforward matters. Governors may also be using different email accounts, including work email addresses or those shared with family members.  Governors should ensure that information shared between members of the governing body is only accessible to those entitled to access it, and that documents are password protected if necessary.

  1. Scheme for the Management (SOM)

The Scheme for the Management for Catholic Maintained Schools states a number of requirements that schools should follow each year, and most schools will have planned to meet these requirements at some stage in their school calendar. The SOM requires that the governors would meet as a board once a term. Many boards will already have met this term, though not all, and it is unlikely that all boards will be in a position to meet in the summer term.

CCMS would recommend that you consider:

When dealing with urgent matters, the use of Article 25 of the SOM may be appropriate. (See below).

If no meeting is required to progress any urgent business in the third term, no meeting should be held.

  1. Article 25 of the Scheme for the Management

‘Power of Chairperson or Vice Chairperson of the Board of Governors to act in cases of urgency’

Article 25 makes provision for the chair or, in his/her absence, the vice chair, to discharge any function of the Board of Governors in the case of genuine urgency. This Article should only be enacted as follows:

  1. Ongoing and/or New Procedures

Governors may be involved in progressing one or more procedures, such as staffing matters or handling complaints. In dealing with some matters, timeframes are clearly stated in the relevant procedure, and it is likely that proposed timetables will need to be reconsidered due to availability of governors and or other personnel involved.

Given the current Governmental guidance on restrictions and social distancing, governors should not be arranging to meet unnecessarily, even in small numbers.

Where possible, either the principal or the governors should contact all parties to advise that any delay will be unavoidable, due to the current exceptional circumstances. Correspondence should also advise that it will not be possible to provide an indicative revised timeframe. The principal/governors should undertake to provide an update once the situation is clearer, and once a revised timeframe can be issued. This will no doubt be disappointing and frustrating for many, and it may be helpful to acknowledge this in the correspondence, though the priority is to communicate that the situation is exceptional, and that such action is unavoidable. Where appropriate, correspondence could also make reference to support available for school employees e.g. Inspire Workplaces’ independent, free confidential support service which can be accessed on 0808 800 0002 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  1. Supporting the Principal

While governors may not be meeting to conduct business for some weeks to come, it is important that regular contact is maintained with the principal to keep up to date and to provide ongoing support. Contact should be between the chairperson and the principal, unless the chair is unavailable, in which case the vice-chair should step in. The chair (or vice-chair) should keep other governors up to date as appropriate. 

  1. Appointments of Governors

Whilst it will be unlikely that CCMS can support schools in filling governor vacancies at this time, it may be possible to progress some appointments; especially to support schools with multiple vacancies. In these circumstances, schools are encouraged to discuss their particular circumstances with CCMS officers

See Below for Useful Contact Details


 


  1. Useful Contact Details

 

Locality 1 Locality 2 Locality 3
Fermanagh and Omagh, Mid Ulster, Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Derry and Strabane, Causeway Coast and Glens, Mid and East Antrim, Antrim and Newtownabbey

Newry Mourne and Down, Ards and North Down, Lisburn and Castlereagh, and Belfast

Senior HR Advisers:            Senior HR Adviser:             Senior HR Advisers:           
Rita McCrory                                 Susan Sullivan  Brendan Hardy
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Brendan Hardy   Susan Sullivan 
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 HR Advisers:                         HR Advisers:                        HR Advisers
Geraldine McCourt                      Mairead Logue Liz Ward
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Joyclyn Madden Quinn      Frances McCusker Mary Cunningham
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Mary Cunningham   Frances McCusker
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Senior Education Adviser: Senior Education Adviser: Senior Education Adviser:
Geraldine Duffy            Roisin Harbinson Mairead Harvey
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Shirley McKenna
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Education Advisers:  Education Advisers: Education Advisers:          
Mary O’Neill Bronagh Maguire Martin Short
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Bronagh Maguire Mary O’Neill  
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Tony Scullion Geraldine Duffy Geraldine Duffy
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  Tony Scullion  
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Area Planning Adviser: Area Planning Adviser: Area Planning Adviser:
Cormac Quinn                              Wilma Johnston Philip Cunningham
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Planning & Development Adviser: Planning & Development Adviser:  
Kathryn McCune                       Kathryn McCune                        
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Senior Leadership Team 
     
Gerry Campbell, Chief Executive
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Eugene O’Neill, Director of Workforce Planning & Governance 
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Director of Education
     
Majella Corrigan, Director of Planning & School provision
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