Being quorate (or having a quorum) is an important concept for meetings, especially for formal ones such as school governing bodies.
What does quorate mean?
First, what does quorate mean? A quorum is the minimum number of people present for the meeting to have formal significance.
For example, a typical school governing body must have at least 2/3rds of its members present in order to make a decision that affects the school. If you had 16 people on the governors, that would mean you’d need at least 11 (note that it is rounded up) members present to make a formal decision, such as a change to the curriculum, a staffing adjustment, setting the annual budget and so on.
Quoracy rules are to prevent the circumstance where one or two people meet in isolation and make decisions on behalf of everyone.
What if we’re not quorate?
If you don’t have enough people for the meeting then you have three options:
1. Postpone the meeting and reschedule
Usually this is the best option, sometimes it is better to have wasted 15 minutes of the time of those who did turn up (inevitably the keener ones) rather than to string it out (see options 2 and 3…)
2. Find the missing people and wait until you are quorate
The tedious process of ringing round other members of the meeting who should be there but are not can sometimes bring rewards (a nearby governor who can get to the meeting within a few minutes for example). All too often this just results in more delay and the inevitable – “we can’t find John, I thought I could get him”.
3. Run a not quorate meeting and postpone the ratification of the decisions to the next meeting
While this is an option, I would not recommend it. Firstly the whole point of quoracy is to have enough differing points of view in the meeting to come to a sensible conclusion. If you discuss all the issues, make provisional judgements until you meet again. You may find yourselves going over the entire discussion all over again while the person who missed the meeting gets up to speed.