The PPDS, LDS, SLSS and a number of other primary and post-primary support services have now merged, to provide a cross-sectoral support service for schools and teachers, entitled the Professional Development Service for Teachers. The resources and materials on this website will continue to be available, both through this website ( and through the PDST website (

Ádh mór don scoil bhliain romhainn.

new_icons_64.gifPlanning Day 2010-2011     

The Department of Education and Science has confirmed that schools may, with Board of Management approval, close for one day during the 2010-2011 school year for planning purposes.

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Holding a planning meeting | Print |
Meetings that are organised and run effectively can help maximise the efficient use of available time/can avoid the evaporation of precious time. People should be expected to come to a meeting reasonably well informed about most of the issues for discussion/with the basic groundwork/research already done and aware of the nature of each item on the agenda.

Basic Questions:

  • Do we need a meeting?
  • What proportion of the time at this meeting will be devoted to teaching and learning?
  • Is a meeting the most appropriate forum?
  • Could the issues be better dealt in another way?
  • Who should attend the meeting?
  • Who might like to be included?
  • How will people know whether they are to attend?
  • Where will the meeting be held? Which room?
  • Is the venue suitable - heated/ventilated/ lighting/ seating arrangements/ tables if required etc?.
  • Does everyone know the location of the venue?
  • Is the chosen room/location available and at what time?
  • Do you need to let anyone else know it is to be in use e.g. caretaker/cleaning staff etc.?
  • When will it be held?

          - What date?

          - What time?

          - How long will the meeting last?

          - Is this the best time/date/day for the meeting?

  • Who will chair the meeting ?

          - Do we need a chairperson?

          - Do we need a recording secretary?

          - Could the duty of chairperson rotate?

          - What is the purpose of the meeting? Is it to: make decisions; discuss ideas; give information; seek information; review a practice/procedure/policy/decision; consult in relation to issues; clarify issues ; a mixture of all of the above depending on the topic?

  • What is needed at the meeting?

          - Will those attending need to study anything?

          - Will they need to bring anything?

          - Will they need equipment?

  • Setting the agenda:

          - People need to feel involved and see agenda setting as fair and equitable, otherwise they will not participate and relationships may be damaged.

          - How far in advance of the meeting will the agenda be set/circulated?

          - Will that give sufficient time for people to inform themselves about issues for discussion?

          - Can a consistent format be used that will make the items/time allocation/ nature of discussion etc. clear to all?

          - Who will gather the items for the agenda?

          - How can items be gathered for an agenda?

          - How can we ensure that teachers have thoughts for the agenda?

          - Will time be allocated to each item? o Who will decide this allocation?

          - Who owns the items listed? (e.g. who will put proposals about the various items at the meeting?)

          - Will time allocation be based on importance and /or urgency?

          - Who will prioritise items for the actual meeting?

          - What will be included?

          - What will be excluded?

          - What happens to items not included for this agenda?

          - Will draft documents be circulated with the agenda?

Suggestion: Group items under the various categories e.g for discussion, for decision, for review, for information etc. . Items which are merely for information may have the required information on a handout for distribution with the agenda prior to the meeting to save time.

  • Who will act as chairperson?
  • Can the duty of chairperson rotate among the staff or among those willing to do so?
  • If someone is to make a presentation, will that person be consulted beforehand and will the time allocation be clarified.
  • Chairperson should clarify before each item the purpose for which it has been listed e.g. for discussion/decision/consultation etc.
  • Will chairperson be on time and start the meeting on time regardless of a participant coming late?
  • Will chairperson be interrupted/called away during the meeting?
  • Will chairperson make introductions/explain aims/note the ground rules/note the finishing time at the start of the meeting? During the meeting
  • Can the chairperson keep to the agenda?
  • Can the chairperson keep members to time? If time becomes an issue, the chairperson should rearrange agenda or ask group for extension to time or ask for guidance as to which items are to be given priority
  • Can the chairperson help the group establish shared meanings - all understand the issue/jargon/terminology/ summarise and reflect back the positions taken by groups/individuals/ ask the minute taker to read back the record of what was said?
  • Can the chairperson listen much and speak little during the meeting?
  • Can the chairperson make everyone feel included in the discussion e.g. eye contact, invitation to everyone to speak/comment?
  • Can the chairperson remain neutral - if he/she has views central to some issue then for that portion of the meeting, the chairing should be delegated to somebody else?
  • Can the chairperson clarify decisions reached at the end of the meeting and outline who will do what by when in relation to the various issues?
  • Can the chairperson: clarify issues to be deferred to another meeting? clarify issues for further action? clarify what issues are to remain confidential and what issues can be reported on to others in the school community?
  • Who will communicate with relevant parties about these issues/when and how?
  • Note the day, date, time and location of the next meeting.
  • Will minutes be taken?
  • Who will do so?
  • Can this duty rotate from meeting to meeting?
  • If a minute taker has a major role in the meeting or part of it another participant should take minutes for that section or for the whole meeting.
  • What will be recorded? Date/time/venue; Name of meeting; Who attended; Apologies. Agenda items under which should be noted: Main points raised in discussion; Decisions taken; Action required - by whom and by what date; Future plans; Unresolved matters; Date time and place of next meeting.
  • Minutes should be concise.
  • Will the minutes be circulated immediately after the meeting (to those who were unable to attend perhaps) or later if acting as an aide memoire?
  • Minutes should be shown to the chairperson prior to circulation to agree an impression of the meeting.
  • Will minutes of the previous meeting be circulated with the agenda?
  • Who will have access to the minutes?
  • Will absent members have minutes sent to them?
  • Can minutes of the previous meeting be agreed at the start of the next one without always reopening issues for debate?
  • Can decisions reached at a meeting form part of the school plan?

Common problems:

  • Over-talkative people: When such a person has exhausted the goodwill/concentration of the group, the chairperson should intervene diplomatically e.g. "so you are against this course of action" or "we have only a few minutes left, could we hear another viewpoint"

Note: When such an intervention takes place by the chairperson, it is important to reinstate the person as soon as possible into the next discussion, otherwise relationship may be damaged.

  • Silence: Different types of silence: reflective, anxious, confused, embarrassed, nothing else to say, boredom, tiredness, ill health, angered etc. When gaps occur the chairperson should invite those who have not contributed to do so e.g. eye contact. while another is speaking may indicate whether a person is willing to contribute. Sensitivity is required when inviting others to speak as there may be several reasons for the silence. The chairperson should not insist on a contribution from an individual. The chairperson should not allow the silence go on so long that it becomes awkward.
  • Differences of opinion: Can the chairperson remain impartial? Can the chairperson lead others to see differences as constructive: learning opportunities - leading to better and more informed decisions? If anger towards the chairperson arises an appeal to the group may diffuse the situation e.g. "Is that how you all feel"/ "is that a fair summary of what we believe?" If anger is directed elsewhere it may be wiser to allow people say what is causing the frustration/fear/disappointment.
  • Consensus versus consent: Consensus is a worthy aim but consent may be easier to achieve - all that may need to be secured is the extent to which a group will go along with a decision for a specified period of time. If consent proves difficult it may be better to defer a decision or set up a working group to examine the matter in greater depth and return to a future meeting with proposals.