Category Archives: Handbook

Ofsted Inspection Handbook and governance matters

Ofsted has recently published updated Section 5 and Section 8 school inspection handbooks. The revisions to the Section 5 reflect latest education policy and the updates in the Section 8 handbook have been done to ensure it is in line with changes to statutory requirements.

Below I have copied parts of the Section 5 handbook which relate to governors/governance. The important point to note is that inspectors, while judging effectiveness of leadership and management will now also consider how committed the governors are to their own development (see text in red below). This means that we should be prepared to answer questions on the arrangements we have made for our training and CPD. Boards may like to consider maintaining a training log which may include details of governor CPD and its impact.

Notification and introduction

34 During the initial notification phone call, the inspection support administrator will check the number of pupils on roll at the school, the governance arrangements  for the school and whether the school has any special educational needs or additional resource provision

37 The purpose of the lead inspector’s initial call is to:

  • confirm what the governance structure of the school or academy is, including with reference, particularly for academies and multi-academy trusts, to the range of functions delegated to local governing bodies or other committees
  • make arrangements for a meeting with the chair of the governing body, or where appropriate the chair of the multi-academy trust, and as many governors as possible – they will also invite as many governors as possible to attend the final feedback meeting
  • request either a face-to-face meeting or a telephone call with a representative from the local authority, academy chain, multi-academy trust board, sponsor or other relevant responsible body; this does not apply to stand-alone academy converters

38 Inspectors will request that the following information is available at the start of the inspection:

  • documented evidence of the work of governors and their priorities, including any written scheme of delegation for an academy in a multi-academy trust
  • any reports of external evaluation of the school, including any review of governance or use of the pupil premium funding.

64 Inspectors will visit lessons to gather evidence about teaching, learning and assessment and will consider this first-hand evidence alongside documentary evidence about the quality of teaching and views from leaders, governors, staff, pupils and parents.

Meeting those responsible for governance

85 Inspectors will always seek to meet those responsible for governance during the inspection. This will usually include maintained school governors or academy trustees and sponsors (including sponsor representatives, where they exist). However, in a multi-academy trust, the board of trustees may have established a local governing body to which it may have  delegated certain governance functions. In some other cases, there may be a local governing body that is wholly advisory, with no formal governance responsibilities delegated to it. Inspectors should ensure that meetings are with those who are directly responsible for exercising governance of the school and for overseeing its performance.

86 The contribution of governors to the school’s performance is evaluated as part of the judgement on the effectiveness of leadership and management. As with the meetings between inspectors and pupils, parents and staff, meetings with those responsible for governance should take place without the headteacher or senior staff.

Providing feedback

92 The on-site inspection concludes with a final feedback meeting with the school. Those connected with the school who may attend include:

  • the headteacher and other senior leaders agreed by the lead inspector and headteacher
  • the chair of the school’s governing board (or the local governing body in the case of an academy that is part of a mult academy trust), and as many governors as possible
  • in an academy that is part of a multi-academy trust, at least one representative of the board of trustees
  • a representative from the local authority (for maintained schools) or academy sponsor and/or the designated responsible body

93 During this meeting, the lead inspector will ensure that the headteacher and governors are clear:

  • about the provisional grades awarded for each key judgement; sufficient detail must be given by the lead inspector to enable all attendees to understand how judgements have been reached and for governors to play a part in beginning to plan how to tackle any areas for improvement
  • that the grades are provisional and so may be subject to change as a result of quality assurance procedures or moderation and must, therefore, be treated as restricted and confidential to the relevant senior personnel (as determined by the school); they must not be shared beyond the school’s leadership team and governors (including those unable to attend the final feedback meeting); information about the inspection outcomes should be shared more widely only when the school receives a copy of the final inspection report
  • about the reasons for recommending an external review of governance and/or an external review of the use of the pupil premium (where applicable) and reference to the fact that this will be followed up at the next inspection
  • that, on receipt of the draft report, they must ensure that the report remains restricted and confidential to the relevant senior personnel (as determined by the school, but including governors) and that the information contained within it is not shared with any third party or published under any circumstances

Serious weaknesses

99  A school is judged to have serious weaknesses because one or more of the key judgements is inadequate (grade 4) and/or there are important weaknesses in the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. However, normally, inspectors will have judged leadership and management to be at least grade 3 because leaders, managers and   governors will have demonstrated the capacity to secure improvement.

Effectiveness of leadership and management

140  The CIF sets out the overarching criteria for judging the effectiveness of leadership and management.

141 In making this judgement in schools, inspectors will consider:

    • the leaders’ and governors’ vision and ambition for the school and how these are communicated to staff, parents and pupils
    • whether leaders and governors have created a culture of high expectations, aspirations and scholastic excellence in which the highest achievement in academic and vocational work is recognised as vitally important
    • how effectively leaders use the primary PE and sport premium and measure its impact on outcomes for pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • the effectiveness of the actions leaders take to secure and sustain improvements to teaching, learning and assessment and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • how well leaders ensure that the school has a motivated, respected and effective teaching staff to deliver a high quality education for all pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • the quality of continuing professional development for teachers at the start and middle of their careers and later, including to develop leadership capacity and how leaders and governors use performance management to promote effective practice across the school
    • how effectively leaders monitor the progress of groups of pupils to ensure that none falls behind and underachieve, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
    • how well leaders and governors engage with parents, carers and other stakeholders and agencies to support all pupils
    • how effectively leaders use additional funding, including the pupil premium, and measure its impact on outcomes for pupils, and how effectively governors hold them to account for this
  • the effectiveness of governors in discharging their core statutory functions and how committed they are to their own development as governors in order to improve their performance
  • how well leaders and governors promote all forms of equality and foster greater understanding of and respect for people of all faiths (and those of no faith), races, genders, ages, disability and sexual orientations (and other groups with protected characteristics), through their words, actions and influence within the school and more widely in the community
  • the effectiveness of safeguarding
  • the effectiveness of leaders’ and governors’ work to raise awareness and keep pupils safe from the dangers of abuse, sexual exploitation, radicalisation and extremism and what the staff do when they suspect that pupils are vulnerable to these issues.

142 Where the school has received external support, for example from the local authority, academy proprietor or trust, inspectors will evaluate and report on the quality and the impact of the external support and challenge on improvement in the school.

Sources of evidence

143 Inspectors will obtain a range of evidence from meetings with leaders and governors and first-hand evidence of their work across the school. Inspectors will use documentary evidence provided by the school, evaluating the impact of leaders’ and governors’ work, both currently and over time, in conjunction with first-hand evidence. Responses to the staff questionnaire and Parent View will also provide useful evidence for judging the culture that has been established in the school by leaders and managers.

144 Inspectors should consider any evidence the school has from regularly surveying the staff and how leaders and managers have responded to concerns raised by staff or parents, for example about how teachers are supported by senior leaders to tackle low-level disruptive behaviour. Inspectors will always report on the school’s activity to survey staff, whether   through the school’s internal procedures or its use of the Ofsted questionnaire (they will do this in the ‘information about this inspection’ section).

Safeguarding

145 In judging the effectiveness of leadership and management, inspectors must also judge whether the school’s arrangements for safeguarding pupils are effective, and whether those responsible for governance ensure that these arrangements are effective. There is detailed guidance on evaluating safeguarding arrangements in ‘Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education, skills settings’.

Governance

146 Inspectors will seek evidence of the impact of those responsible for governance. This includes maintained school governors, proprietors or academy trustees. In a multi-academy trust this may include members of the local governing board at school level, as well as the trustees.

147 Where a children’s centre is managed directly by the school’s governing body, inspectors will consider the impact of any judgements about the children’s centre or the services and activities offered through or by the centre, in judging leadership and management.

148 Inspectors will consider whether governors:

  • work effectively with leaders to communicate the vision, ethos and strategic direction of the school and develop a culture of ambition
  • provide a balance of challenge and support to leaders, understanding the strengths and areas needing improvement at the school
  • provide support for an effective headteacher or are hindering school improvement because of a lack of understanding of the issues facing the school
  • understand how the school makes decisions about teachers’ salary progression and performance
  • performance manage the headteacher rigorously
  • understand the impact of teaching, learning and assessment on the progress of pupils currently in the school
  • ensure that assessment information from leaders provides governors with sufficient and accurate information to ask probing questions about outcomes for pupils
  • ensure that the school’s finances are properly managed and can evaluate how the school is using the pupil premium, Year 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium, primary PE and sport premium, and special educational needs funding
  • are transparent and accountable, including in recruitment of staff, governance structures, attendance at meetings and contact with parents.

149 Inspectors will report on the achievement of pupils who have special educational needs and/or disabilities. This includes reporting on the pupils in any specialist resource provision managed by the governing body and the extent to which the education the school provides meets the needs of these pupils.

150 Inspectors will recommend an external review if governance is weak. Under ‘What the school should do to improve further’, inspectors should use the following words in the report:

‘An external review of governance should be undertaken in order to assess how this aspect of leadership and management may be improved.’

151 The school should decide how this review will take place and commission it. Reviews should be developmental. They do not represent a further inspection, although inspectors will follow up on the review during any subsequent inspection. Full details of what might be the form and nature of such reviews can be found at: http://www.gov.uk/reviews-of-school-%09governance.

Use of the pupil premium

152 Inspectors will gather evidence about the use of the pupil premium in relation to the following key issues:

  • how leaders and governors have spent the pupil premium, their rationale for this spending and its intended impact

Attendance and punctuality

Sources of evidence

168 Inspectors will gather the views of parents, staff, governors and other stakeholders

SSAT have published a summary of changes. 

The Governance handbook Section 6: Working out what’s new matters. Part 7

This blog looks at Section 6 of the new Governance handbook. Additions in the new handbook are in red. Black text indicates that the text is from the old version and my comments are in green. The numbering used is that of the new Governance handbook.

Section 6 Section 3 Education
and inspection

6.1 The national curriculum

5. The majority of the new national curriculum was introduced in September 2014; English, mathematics and science came into force for years 2 and 6 in September 2015. The English and mathematics curriculum for key stage 4 were phased in from September 2015, and science for key stage 4 will be phased in from September 2016, alongside the timetable for introducing new GCSEs in these subjects.

6.1.2 3.1.4
Cultural Education

9. It is a legal requirement for both maintained schools and academies to promote the cultural development of their pupils through the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development education requirements.

The rest is unchanged.

6.1.3 3.1.5
Sex and relationship education

15. Governing bodies of maintained schools (excluding maintained nursery schools) and academies
All boards should reassure themselves that the school has a written statement of the policy they adopt on sex education and make it available to parents. All schools providing sex education at both primary and secondary level, and
including academies through their funding agreements, must have regard to statutory guidance Sex and relationship education guidance’ . Sex education is therefore often known by the broader title ‘sex and relationship education’ (SRE). The guidance document ensures SRE is delivered appropriately to all pupils, and that such education covers a range of topics and issues.

16. The PSHE Association has published the advice
Sex and relationships education (SRE) for the 21st century to supplement statutory guidance.

6.1.4 Physical Education and Sport

17. A high-quality physical education curriculum inspires all pupils to succeed and excel in competitive sport and other physically demanding activities. It should provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness. Opportunities to compete in sport and other activities build character and help to embed values such as fairness and respect.

18. All boards should be aware of the PE and sport premium for primary schools. The premium must be used to fund additional and sustainable improvements to the provision of PE and sport, for the benefit of primary-aged pupils, in the 2015 to 2016 academic year, to encourage the development of healthy, active lifestyles. Guidance on how much PE and sport premium funding primary schools receive and advice on how to spend it has been published.

6.1.5 3.1.2
Religious education

No change

6.1.6
3.1.3
Collective worship

No change

6.1.7
3.1.6 Political bias

No change

6.1.8
3.1.7 Disapplication of the national curriculum

No change

3.1.8 Curriculum policy

There is no longer a duty on governing bodies and headteachers to prepare a policy for the school curriculum. If schools do choose to adopt such a policy, it should be broad; it does not need to be a detailed map of all secular curriculum activities.

6.2 Careers guidance and pupil inspiration

No change

6.3
3.4
The early years foundation stage (EYFS)

32.
The EYFS framework
sets out requirements for both learning and development, and safeguarding and welfare n early years
provision for children from birth to five. It is mandatory for all providers. This includes maintained schools, academies and all providers on the Early Years Register.
The EYFS statutory guidance outlines the framework includes requirements for a number of A range of policies and procedures that may be needed by schools, delivering the EYFS; these are outlined in the statutory guidance. and boards of establishments delivering the EYFS should reassure themselves that where such policies and procedures are required they are in place. Further guidance and supporting materials are available.

6.4 3.5 Children with special educational needs (SEN)

33. Legally, a child or young person is defined as having SEN if he or she has a learning difficulty that calls for special educational provision to be made for him or her. A learning difficulty means that the child or young person has significantly greater difficulty in learning than
most children do or young people of the same age do most of their peers, or Alternatively, it means that the child or young person has
a disability that prevents or hinders him or her from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children or young people of the same age in schools within the area of the local authority.

6.4.1 3.5.1
Responsibilities of the board with regard to SEN

No change

6.4.2
3.5.2 Admission of pupils with SEN: duties of Admission Authorities (including boards)

No change

6.4.3
3.5.3 Admission of SEN pupils with statements to maintained schools

No change

6.4.4
3.5.4 Admission to special schools for pupils with SEN

No change

6.4.5
3.5.5 Teachers in maintained schools with responsibility for SEN

No change

6.6 3.7 Assessing attainment and achievement

56. Teachers should monitor their pupils’ progress in each subject as a normal part of their teaching.
By law, schools must assess pupils’ attainment at key points in their compulsory education. These key points are when pupils have completed the early years foundation stage and the programmes of study for key stages 1, 2 and 3, usually at the ages of 5, 7, 11 and 14. There is also a statutory check of phonics at the end of year 1 (age 6). This process is known as statutory assessment.

57. While governors boards are not directly involved in these processes, they may find the Standards & Testing Agency provide useful background in the context of their responsibilities to drive up school and pupil level performance.

The Governance handbook Section 5: Working out what’s new matters. Part 6

This blog looks at Section 5 of the new Governance handbook. Additions in the new handbook are in red. Black text indicates that the text is from the old version and my comments are in green. The numbering used is that of the Governance handbook.

Section 5 – Ways of Working

5.1 Conduct

6. A code of conduct should be maintained and communicated to all prospective governors to set clear expectations of the governors’ role and behaviour. Explicit agreement to the code of conduct will mean there is a common reference point should any difficulties arise in the future. The NGA Model Code of Conduct aims to helps [sic]governing bodies boards draft their own a code of conduct which sets out the purpose of the governing bodies board and describes the appropriate relationship between individual governors, the whole board and the leadership team of the school.

I agree with the suggestion that the code of conduct should be communicated to prospective governors. Boards should make clear the expectations they have of every governor, including prospective governors.

5.2 Duty to have Having regard to the views of parents

7. Maintained school governing bodies All boards should assure themselves that mechanisms are in place to engage meaningfully with parents and to enable all parents to put forward their views at key points in their child’s education. The board should be able to demonstrate the methods used to seek the views of parents and how those views have influenced their decision making.
As part of the wider inspection process, Ofsted considers responses to its online survey Parent View. The views of parents help inspectors form a picture of how a school is performing and Parent View can provide valuable information on how well the school engages with parents. Governors can access the toolkit Ofsted has developed for schools. This is now part of Section 7.

5.4 Charitable and corporate duties 1.6 The role of academy trustees

13. Academy trustees are charity trustees As trustees of a charity, academy trustees. As such, they must comply with the following duties under charity law:

• Ensure the charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit

• Comply with the charity’s governing document and the law

• Act in the charity’s best interests

• Manage the charity’s resources responsibly

• Act with reasonable care and skill

• Ensure the charity is accountable

• compliance – they must ensure that the charity’s resources are used for the charitable purpose and that the charity complies with the law and its governing document i.e. the articles of association.

• care – they should take reasonable care in their work. In practice, it simply means ensuring that the academy trust is managed efficiently and effectively. It also means considering the need for professional advice on matters where there may be material risk to the charity.

• prudence – they must act responsibly, making sure that the academy trust’s assets are protected and used for the benefit of the charity. The trustees must make sure that the academy trust is solvent and keeps appropriate financial records. These requirements are reflected in the funding agreement and the Academies Financial Handbook.

14. These requirements are reflected in the funding agreement and the Academies Financial Handbook. More information on the role of a charity trustee is available on the Charity Commission’s website (CC3).

15. Academy trustees should also be aware of must also comply with their statutory duties as company directors, which are set out in sections 170 to 177 of the Companies Act 2006.

NOTE: Governors should not only “be aware” but must also comply with their statutory duties as directors.

5.5 Dealing with complaints

17. The governing bodies boards of all schools have a duty to consider complaints about the school and any community facilities or services that it provides. They must reassure themselves that their school has a procedure to deal with complaints and that the procedure is publicised. An academy is required, through the obligations set out in its funding agreement, to ensure that a complaints procedure is drawn up and carried out effectively.

18. Academies must make available on request a procedure for dealing with complaints. The expectation is that this should be published online. For complaints from parents of pupils, this procedure must comply with The Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014 and offer

• an opportunity to resolve the complaint with the academy on an informal basis, for example through discussion with a senior member of staff;

• a formal complaint stage when the complaint is made in writing and usually responded to by the chair of governors; and

• a hearing with a panel set up by the academy trust, comprising at least three people not directly involved in the matters detailed in the complaint, one of whom must be independent of the management and running of the school. A governor may not serve as the independent panel member. The funding agreement also sets out a requirement for an academy to handle complaints that arose in part or in whole before the academy opened.

Although not present in the new version, governors must ensure they are aware of the process to be followed when a complaint is made.

5.6 Whistleblowing 1.7.5 Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing arrangements are designed to respond to malpractice and wrongdoing areas including the following, but the precise coverage and terms used can vary:

• any unlawful act, whether criminal or a breach of civil law;

• maladministration, as defined by the Local Government Ombudsman;

• breach of any statutory Code of Practice;

• breach of, or failure to implement or comply with Financial Regulations or Standing Orders;

• any failure to comply with appropriate professional standards;

• fraud, corruption or dishonesty;

• actions which are likely to cause physical danger to any person, or to give rise to a risk of significant damage to property;

• loss of income to the school;

• abuse of power, or the use of the school’s powers and authority for any unauthorised or ulterior purpose;

• discrimination in employment or the provision of education; and

• any other matter that staff consider they cannot raise by any other procedure.

Academies

Academy trusts should have appropriate procedures in place for whistleblowing, including making sure all staff are aware to whom they can report their concerns, and the way in which such concerns will be managed. It is also good practice for academies to consider how they will deal with complaints from people who are not parents of attending pupils and who wish to raise a concern. Section 2.4.5 of this Handbook covers complaint handling.

The EFA handle financial and non-financial whistleblowing complaints in open academies where the complainant does not wish to contact the academy first, although complainants will be encouraged to do so.

Complainants will also be encouraged to submit the complaint confidentially rather than anonymously, as anonymity can hinder the EFA’s ability to progress the complaint.

EFA’s External Assurance team handles allegations of financial irregularity.

Maintained Schools

All maintained schools should have whistleblowing arrangements in place and governing body minutes should record that they do. For maintained schools, the arrangements 24

should be based on the local authority policy (which applies to all schools within its remit) and could be tailored as appropriate for the school.

The governing body should think how the local authority’s policy could be tailored so that it fits the specific circumstances of the school and ensure that it has appointed named member(s) of staff and governor(s) whom other staff can report concerns to.

If staff are not currently aware of the whistleblowing arrangements, they should be informed about them in a way that is easy for all to see. In particular, they should be made aware of the:

• protection that is available to all members of staff (including e.g. temporary staff and contractors);

• areas of malpractice and wrongdoing that are covered; and

• routes available within the school and the local authority for raising issues.

Further information

For maintained schools, further information should initially be sought from staff appointed by the local authority to deal with whistleblowing. This will almost certainly be on a confidential basis.

21. All schools and academy trusts should have appropriate procedures in place for whistleblowing. The board need to ensure that staff and governors alike are aware of to whom they can report their concerns, and the way in which such concerns will be managed.

22. The whistleblowing charity, Public Concern at Work (PCAW), provides support for organisations confidential independent advice to employees about wrongdoing in the workplace. You can contact PCAW at:

• Tel: 020 7404 6609 Email: services@pcaw.co.uk UK advice line: whistle@pcaw.org.uk

The guidance on whistleblowing is not as extensive as in the old version. Relevant links are still present and governors must ensure that they follow correct procedures when dealing with a whistleblowing case.

23. The whistleblowing page on GOV.UK provides further information on the areas for which whistleblowing arrangements should cover.

Part One looked at Contents

Part Two looked at Section 1

Part Three looked at Section 2

Part Four looked at Section 3

Part Five looked at Section 4

Shena Lewington has an online version of Section 5


The Governance handbook Section 4: Working out what’s new matters. Part 5

This blog looks at Section 4 of the new Governance handbook (Section 2 of the old version). Additions in the new handbook are in red. Black text indicates that the text is from the old version and my comments are in green. The numbering used is that of the Governance handbook.

This Section starts by explaining the benefits of multi-school structures in some detail.

4.1 Multi-school governance structures

2. As highlighted in Section 1, governance structures that span more than one school create an opportunity for higher quality governance. The boards of maintained school federations and the boards of multi-academy trusts have a more strategic perspective and the ability to compare and contrast between schools. They also create the opportunity for the skills of high calibre people to be brought to bear in overseeing more schools to the benefit of more pupils.

3. Governing a group of schools through a single board also creates the condition for fully realising the sustained benefits of school-to-school collaboration, which include:

• A richer and wider curriculum – including through the ability to recruit and deploy more specialist staff, such as subject specialists or faculty heads;

• Better professional development and career progression opportunities for staff, and better retention of key staff as a result;

• Bigger leadership challenges for middle and senior leaders, while also easing the overall leadership challenge through more supported leadership roles;

• Financial efficiency – through shared procurement;

• Economies of scale – that make employing specialist finance directors and business managers with vital skills more feasible; and

• Ultimately, better prospects for pupils through greater professional accountability and the roll out of consistent proven pedagogies.

4. Many governors, like headteachers and parents can be passionate and committed to their school. However, governing is about putting the interests of pupils before adults and boards should set aside issues of control and school identity to consider objectively the governance structures that would most benefit current and future pupils.

The above is another example of DfE’s preferred direction of travel for schools. It makes the point the board needs to consider what is in the best interests of the students and not let other considerations detract from that. Can’t argue with that!

4.2 The governance structure of academies

If we compare the old and new version as below

In MATs, where trustees and members are responsible for more than one academy, it is the department’s view that while there can be some overlap in the two layers, the most robust governance structures will retain at least some distinction between the individuals who are trustees and those who are members. This promotes internal challenge and scrutiny, which members who are independent of the trustees can provide.

In single school academy converters and free schools, the academy trust should consider what structure is most effective for its specific circumstances. This may include a flat governance structure in which all the trustees are also members. The department however expects that this should usually reflect a degree of separation between members and trustees.

Particularly in MATs given the breadth of their responsibilities, the most robust governance structures will have at least some distinction between the individuals who are members and those who are trustees. This enables members who are independent of the trustees to provide challenge and scrutiny to the board. If there is a risk that members who are trustees will dominate the board, a flat structure may be preferable in which all trustees are members – though the department’s preference would still be for there to be some members who are not trustees.

It seems to me that in the older version the preference for MATs was to have a degree of separation between the members and trustees but if needed single converters could have all members as trustees. In the new version, it looks as if MATs could adopt a structure in which all members are trustees. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind this. I’m happy to be corrected if I have misinterpreted this.

10. Employees of the Trust should not cannot be appointed as members.

Under older versions employees could be members. This is not allowed now.

13. The board is able to remove from office any trustee that they have appointed. In addition members have the power to appoint and remove any trustee irrespective of whether the individual was appointed or elected to the board.

The above power (to remove any trustee irrespective of whether the individual was appointed or elected is an authority given to the board by the Section 282 of the Companies Act 2006. The ability to remove elected governors is a power which governors of maintained schools don’t have. I am not sure if all academy members realise they have this power. Needless to say, this power should be exercised with extreme caution and only if it will be to the benefit of the students and the trust.

15. The departmental advice, Free schools – Pre-opening proposer group guidance, sets out everything the proposer group need to put in place strong governance arrangements.

4.2.2 Multi-Academy trusts

16. MATs are also a single legal entity but its A MAT board of trustees
board is accountable for a number of academies in its chain all of the academies within the trust. This means that an additional layer of governance is possible through the delegation of governance functions to local governing bodies, made up of local governors. Each academy may have a local governing body to which the MAT trustees may delegate some governance functions. However, it can choose to delegate governance functions to local governing bodies or LGBs. LGBs may govern one academy or they may govern more than one academy. Alternatively, local governing bodies may themselves govern more than one academy for example in a regional cluster Particularly in a large MAT, the board may decide to appoint a committee to oversee a group of LGBs, for example as a regional cluster. Both committees and LGBs are made up of people that the MAT board appoints – this may include MAT trustees but can be anyone that the board selects for their skills. Local governors who sit on local governing bodies are not trustees of the academy trust unless they also sit on the trust’s board Committee members and local governors are not trustees of the MAT unless they also sit on the MAT board itself.

The above, to me, suggests that another layer of governance can be present in a large MAT. The MAT trust appoints LGBs for its schools. These LGBs may govern more than one academy. In a large MAT the trust can appoint a committee who will oversee a group of LGBs as a regional  cluster.                                                  

18. The Academies Financial Handbook requires all academies and MATs to publish on their website their scheme of delegation for governance functions. This should set out in a clear and concise format the structure and remit of the members and of the board of trustees, its committees and LGBs – including details of which governance functions have been delegated and which remain with the trust board. All individuals involved in the governance of a MAT should know who the trustees are and understand clearly what functions have been delegated by the board to LGBs or other committees.

MAT trustees should make sure the above information is published on websites.

19. As they grow, MAT boards have the opportunity to expand their central executive team as means of exercising their responsibilities of oversight. However, as individual school principals become line managed by, for example, a chief executive, there is a risk of duplication or confusion between the role of the chief executive and the LGB in holding the school principal to account. MATs need to consider carefully and be clear about how they will exercise their governance and oversight through both executive and non-executive channels and how the two fit together.

20. MATs can also use their executive team to oversee finances. Many MAT boards tell us that in hindsight they would have appointed a finance director earlier in their growth. A dedicated finance director is essential to overseeing the efficient and effective use of the MAT’s resources for the benefit of pupils, and that systems for financial planning and control are appropriate and sufficient.

The role of finance directors will become increasingly important as MATs grow, especially under the present financial landscape. MAT trustees should give due consideration to the above.

21. As set out in Section 1, In order to transition successfully from a single academy into a small MAT, and onward into a large MAT, the board should commission a robust independent external review of its effectiveness and readiness for growth. The board of a single school might try to develop its existing governance model to form a small MAT of two or three schools, but growth beyond three schools usually represents the first real need to overhaul governance arrangements. Likewise the governance structures of a small MAT will start to become stretched at around 6-7 schools and by 10 a further overhaul will be needed.

22. More information and case studies on MAT governance are available on GOV.UK.

4.3.1 Single maintained schools

24. These regulations provide that the minimum size of the board is seven members and the board must include:

at least two parent governors – elected where possible, otherwise appointed;

only one elected staff governor;

only one local authority governor; nominated by the LA, appointed by the board,

It is mportant to note the above point. This is explained in more detail in para 26 below. 27 should be made clear to prospective candidates.

• where appropriate, foundation governors – appointed by the relevant foundation, or partnership governors – nominated by the appropriate religious body (where the school has a religious character) or by parents or the local community and appointed by the board as specified in the regulations.

25. The governing body board may appoint as many additional co-opted governors as it considers necessary. The number of co-opted governors who are eligible to be elected or appointed as staff governors must not (when added to the one staff governor and the headteacher) exceed one-third of the total membership of the body board. The term of office for each category of governor is decided by the board and set out in the Instrument of Government. Additionally, boards may decide to adopt the flexibility for those appointing governors to decide the term of office of each individual governor to be between 1 and 4 years. This will only apply to newly appointed governors and would not affect the terms of office of existing governors.

26. For local authority governor appointments, a board should make clear its eligibility criteria including its expectations of the credentials and skills prospective candidates should possess. Local authorities must then make every effort to understand the board’s requirements in order to identify and nominate suitable candidates. It is for the board to decide whether the local authority nominee meets any stated eligibility criteria and, if it chooses to reject the candidate on that basis, to explain their decision to the local authority.

27. Once appointed, local authority governors must govern in the interests of the school and not represent or advocate for the political or other interests of the local authority; it is unacceptable practice to link the right to nominate local authority governors to the local balance of political power.

4.3.2 The governance structures of maintained school federations

33. Federation creates a single governing body board to govern more than one maintained school. Schools in federations continue to be individual schools, keeping their existing category, character and legal identity, but have their governance provided by the same board. Admission to each school continues to be determined by the appropriate admissions authority.
The governing body board of the federation will receive individual budgets for each of the federated schools, and will be able to use them across the schools in the federation and can pool these budgets to use across the schools in the federation as it sees fit. Staff may also be employed at the federation level to enable flexible deployment between schools.

34. The governing body A board’s decision to federate must follow a prescribed process, which is detailed in the School Governance (Federations) Regulations 2012. Governing bodies must also follow A prescribed process must also be followed when they an individual school wishes to leave a federation or where federations are dissolved the federation board decides to dissolve the federation; these processes are also detailed in the federation regulations.

The older version contained a summary o the regulations which has been taken out of the new version.

35. Governing bodies entering into a federation must now do so in accordance with the School Governance (Federations) Regulations 2012. These The Regulations require that the governing body of the federation cannot have fewer than seven members, and must include: board of all federations to have at least seven members, including:

one parent governor in respect of each school in the federation;

the headteacher of each federated school (or the executive headteacher of the federation, if there is one) unless they resign as a governor;

one elected staff governor; and

one local authority governor – nominated by the LA and appointed by the board.

The old version had this to say about parent governors in federations.

While the number of parent governors is restricted to one per school, governing bodies may wish to appoint further parents as co-opted governors.

Whereas the new version states that:

40. We have recently consulted on reducing the requirement for parent governors from one per school to two, and only two, with the proposed changes expected to come into force from September 2016.

I assume the above means the board will have only two parent governors, irrespective of the number of schools in the federation.

4.4.1 Umbrella Trusts

42. Some academies have created an ‘umbrella trust’ as a vehicle for collaboration. This means that while the academies remain separate charitable trusts with their own articles and funding agreement with the Secretary of State, they create an additional charitable trust with functions that reflect their mutual interests. This often involves the individual academies ceding powers of oversight, intervention or governance to the umbrella trust. The department’s preference is for groups of schools or academies intending to collaborate to form a multi-academy trust in which there is robust shared governance arrangements and clear lines of accountability.

The above is what the new handbook has to say about umbrella trusts and in this paragraph the last sentence should be especially noted.

4.4.3 Collaboration between academies and maintained schools

45. Maintained schools may collaborate informally with non-maintained schools While the Collaboration Regulations do not permit maintained schools to share governance arrangements and form formal joint committees with academies, they may collaborate informally. For example, This type of collaboration allows the creation of a joint committee that meet as needed and may only make recommendations The individual schools’ governing body powers cannot be delegated may be established which is purely advisory in nature, making recommendations to the boards of both schools who retain and decision making powers. Alternatively, the committee may be established with parallel dual identities – complying with both the requirements of maintained school regulations and the legal framework for academies.

Part One looked at Contents

Part Two looked at Section 1

Part Three looked at Section 2

Part Four looked at Section 3

Shena Lewington has an online version of Section 4 on her website

The Governance handbook Section 3: Working out what’s new matters. Part 4

This blog looks at Section 3 of the new Governance handbook. Additions in the new handbook are in red. Black text indicates that the text is from the old version and my comments are in green. The numbering used is that of the Governance handbook.

Section 3 – People

3. The department has given governing bodies more freedom to determine their own constitution, in addition to relaxing rules that, in the past, have meant some governing bodies had to be large. The department wants governing bodies to be All boards of maintained schools, academies and MATs should be tightly focused and no larger than they need to be to carry out their functions effectively with every member actively contributing relevant skills and experience. In general, the department believes that smaller governing bodies boards are more likely to be cohesive and dynamic, and able to act more decisively. Boards cannot afford to carry passengers.

The last sentence is a strong statement and one which I feel should be clearly stated as here.

5. The membership of the governing body should focus on skills, and the primary consideration in the appointment and election of new governors should be acquiring the skills and experience the governing body needs to be effective. Boards should therefore develop a skills-based set of criteria for governor selection and recruitment which can also be used to inform ongoing self-evaluation and governor training. For maintained schools, the School Governance (Constitution) (England) Regulations 2012 require all appointed governors to have the skills required to contribute to effective governance and the success of the school.

6. Meaningful and effective engagement with parents, staff and the wider community is vital, but not guaranteed and is not achieved by the presence of the various categories by the presence of the various categories of governor on the board.

Replacement of “not guaranteed” by “not achieved” is indicative of the fact the Department does not think engagement with stakeholders can be via stakeholder governors.

7. Governing bodies may consider re-constitution if things are not going well – for example following an Ofsted inspection or in the light of an external review. They may also consider re-constitution as a positive and proactive move to ensure they are fit for purpose for the future, including in the context of a conversion to academy status They should also reflect regularly on whether they have the right overall balance of people and skills, and consider the benefits that might result from restructuring the board’s constitution and membership. A Possible Road Map for Governing Board Reconstitution’ aims to help boards with the practicalities of how to approach the process of reconstitution.

8. Boards and others responsible for nominating or appointing governors should make use of all available channels to identify suitable governors. Where governors are elected, every effort should be made to inform the electorate about the role of a governor and the specific skills the board requires and the extent to which candidates possess these.

12. Having some members who have no close ties with the school can help ensure that the board has sufficient internal challenge to how they carry out their strategic functions.

This is interesting. Some boards may have a large number of governors who have close links with the school. This can happen when the term of a governor ends and the board re-appoints them in a different category.

17. Effective boards seek to secure or develop within their membership as a whole expertise and experience in analysing performance data, in budgeting and driving financial efficiency, and in performance management and employment issues, including grievances. They seek to recruit and/or develop governors with the skills to work constructively in committees, chair meetings and to lead the board.

19. All trustees of academies must by DBS checked, and the department is consulting on introducing the same requirement for governors of maintained schools – details on DBS checks in schools are within the statutory guidance Keeping children safe in education.

3.4 Transparency

29. Governors hold an important public office and their identity should be known to their school and wider communities. In the interests of transparency, all schools and academies boards should publish including
on their school website up-to-date details of the structure of the governing body and any committees, together with the names of their governors and their particular roles and responsibilities within that structure their governance arrangements in a readily accessible format. Further detail of the information that should be published is available in the statutory guidance Constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools and in the Academies Financial Handbook.

The details of what should be published has been left out and replaced by the link to where this can be accessed.

Part One looked at Contents

Part Two looked at Section 1

Part Three looked at Section 2

Shena Lewington has an online version of  Section 3 on her website

The Governance handbook Section 2: Working out what’s new matters. Part 3

In this post I discuss Section 2 of the new Governance handbook and Section One of the old Governors’ handbook (Jan 2015) as these sections discuss the core strategic functions of governing boards.

Duties which boards have to perform in addition to their core duties had been listed in a Table in the old version and are missing from the new version. The table, I suspect, probably was quite a useful thing to have.

Anything which is an addition in the new handbook is in red, black text indicates that the text is unchanged and my comments are in green. The numbering used is that of the Governance handbook.

2.1 Setting vision, ethos and strategic direction

3. The board should ensure that the school has a clear vision – which it may be helpful to articulate in a specific written vision statement. This should include ambitions for current and future pupils, as well as for the school’s relationship with other schools. For multi-academy trusts (MATs), the vision should set out the level of ambition they have for future growth. This includes considering the type of school which would offer the best opportunities for achieving future aims

I thought this omission was interesting. I think this may indicate that the “type of school” considered best is perhaps an academy in a MAT.

4. The board should make sure there is a strategy in place for achieving this vision. The strategy should provide a robust framework for setting priorities, creating accountability and monitoring progress in realising the school’s vision. The focus should be on significant strategic challenges. The detail of all the actions that will drive school improvement should be contained in a separate school improvement plan. Avoiding unnecessary detail and peripheral issues will prevent the board’s attention being spread too thinly and help create a practical and powerful tool for facilitating its core business. The National Governors’ Association (NGA) and the Wellcome Trust have jointly developed guidance to help boards develop a robust strategic Framework for Governance.

There is no mention of KPIs or SMART targets, perhaps because boards are now expected to have regard to these anyway.

8. Boards are able to suspend any governor for acting in a way that is contrary to the ethos of the school. This would include undermining fundamental British values. Swift action should be taken to suspend from office any governor that acts to undermine fundamental British values or the board’s commitment or ability to deliver on its Prevent duty. The board, or where applicable other appointing body, should also consider removing from office any governor acting in this manner.

Prevent duty is mentioned for the first time. “Swift action” is recommended to suspend a governor who undermines British values.

9. If you are concerned that a governor or potential governor may have links to extremism or that child might be at risk of extremism, or if you have any other concern about extremism in a school please contact our helpline on counter.extremism@education.gsi.gov.uk or 020 7340 7264.

2.2.1 Boards’ relationship with school leaders

In the older version this was discussed in Section 2.4 (Ways of Working; 2.4.2 Governing bodies’ relationship with school leaders)

11…….. Boards should work to support and strengthen the leadership of the headteacher or executive headteacher, and hold them to account for the day-to-day running of their school(s), including the performance management of staff.

The MAT theme continues.

13. One of the key characteristics expected of headteachers, as outlined within the National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers, is that they should welcome strong governance and actively support their board to understand its role and deliver its core functions effectively. Headteachers should therefore welcome and enable appropriately robust challenge by providing any data the board requests and responding positively to searching questions.

Those governors who have not read the National Standards of Excellence for Headteachers would find the above interesting and useful.

2.2.2 Asking the right questions

  • How is the school going to raise standards for all children, including the most and least able, those with special educational needs, those receiving free school meals, boys and girls, those of a particular ethnicity, and any who are currently underachieving?

The above was third on the list of questions in the older versions whereas now it is the second bullet point, perhaps indicating the importance of asking for and receiving this information.

  • Is the school adequately engaged with the world of work and preparing their pupils for adult life, including knowing where pupils go when they leave?
  • How is the school ensuring that it keeps pupils safe from, and building their resilience to, the risks of extremism and radicalisation? What arrangements are in place to ensure that staff understand and are implementing the Prevent duty?

Reference to Prevent Duty again

  • Are senior leaders including (where appropriate) the chief executive and finance director getting appropriate continuous professional development?
  • Are teachers and support staff being used as effectively and efficiently as possible and in line with evidence and guidance?
  • Is the school encouraging the development of healthy, active lifestyles by using the PE and sport premium for primary schools to fund additional and sustainable improvements to the provision of PE and sport?
  • Is the school encouraging the development of healthy, active lifestyles by using the PE and sport premium for primary schools to fund additional and sustainable improvements to the provision of PE and sport?
  • How effectively does the school listen to the views of pupils and parents?

The last question has been modified to indicate that not only should the board know if the school listens to the views of pupils and parents but also how effectively does it do this.

2.3 Overseeing financial performance

19. The board’s third core function is to make sure money is well spent. It should do this by ensuring it has at least one governor with specific, relevant skills and experience of financial matters. However, all governors should ideally have a basic understanding of the financial cycle and the legal requirements of the school on accountability and spend. This is important in all schools, but particularly important in MATs or large schools or federations. Their larger budgets make it even more critical that the board not only oversees delivery of the best possible education for pupils, but also provides robust corporate governance to ensure the viability and efficiency of the organisation through effective business and financial planning.

Governors should note that although the board should have at least one governor with financial skills, the handbook now makes it clear that all governors should understand financial cycle, legal requirements of accountability and spend. The handbook makes it clear that this is especially important for governors of MATs, federations or large schools.

20. Asking the right questions is equally important in relation to money as it is to educational performance. Appropriate questions might include:

  • Are other schools buying things cheaper or getting better results with less spending per pupil?
  • Are resources allocated in line with the school’s strategic priorities?
  • Does the school have a clear budget forecast, ideally for the next three years, which identifies spending opportunities and risks and sets how these will be mitigated?
  • Does the school have sufficient reserves to cover major changes such as re-structuring, and any risks identified in the budget forecast?
  • Is the school making best use of its budget, including in relation to planning and delivery of the curriculum?
  • Does the school plan its budgets on a bottom up basis driven by curriculum planning (i.e is the school spending its money in accordance with its priorities) or is the budget set by simply making minor adjustments to last year’s budget to ensure there is a surplus?

The questions are more detailed now and in the present financial climate governors would be well advised to start asking these.

2.4 The importance of objective data

22. While governing bodies
boards may decide to establish a committee to look in detail at performance data, all governors should be able to engage fully with discussions about data in relation to the educational and financial the performance of their school. If they cannot, they should undertake appropriate training or development to enable them to do so. This includes MAT boards who should not leave this function solely to LGBs, where they are in place, but should themselves be familiar with and interrogate key performance data.

Important point about the necessity of MAT boards understanding data and not leaving this function to LGBs. Training is mentioned twice in this sub-para! It also makes clear that the board should understand the financial as well as the educational data.

2.4.1 Sources of education data

23. It is the headteacher’s job (and in maintained schools it is their legal duty) to give provide their governing body board with the information it needs to do its job well.

I would have liked to see the “it is their legal duty” left in.

This might include data on:

• pupil learning and progress;

• pupil applications, admissions, attendance and exclusions;

• staff deployment, absence, recruitment, retention, morale and performance; and

• the quality of teaching.

Addition of staff “deployment” is interesting!

24. The governing body
board, not the headteacher, should determine the scope and format of headteacher’s termly reports. This will mean that the board receives the information it needs in a format that enables it to stay focused on its core strategic functions and not get distracted or overwhelmed by information of secondary importance. As MATs grow, their scale means that they have greater opportunity to employ a central executive team to help them discharge their oversight responsibilities, including by compiling and analysing pupil progress and financial performance data and using a standard template to present data from each school in the MAT.

The suggestion that MATs may want to employ a central team which can compile and analyse data using a standard template across the schools is interesting. On one hand it may make it easier for the board to understand the data and compare the schools within the MAT, on the other hand a standard template may be difficult to use when trying to allow for local variation/data.

25.
The headteacher and school should not be the only source of information for the board
governing body. That would make it hard to hold the headteacher to account properly. Governors need to make sure that at least once a year they see objective national data from other sources so that they can feel empowered to ask pertinent and searching questions. A board
governing body can get annual performance data direct from a number of sources

26…… Reports are available at key stages 1, 2 and 4. Key stage 5 reports are being developed and will be available later this academic year.

RAISEonline

34. The Inspection dashboard has been created in RAISEonline to support new inspection arrangements from September 2015. The dashboard is a tool showing historic data for inspectors to use when preparing for inspections. It is designed to show at a glance how well previous cohorts demonstrated characteristics of good or better performance. It contains a brief overview of published data for the last three years using clear visual displays that are quick to interpret.

36….. All governors must be able to engage in a discussion about RAISEonline or equivalent data and if not should attend a course to enable them to do so

Training seems to be getting mentioned more in the new handbook and rightly so!

2.4.2 Sources of financial data

40. The department provides a range of financial information about maintained schools and academies. EFA’s toolkit for schools provides information for academy trusts about the support available to improve efficiency, including a new financial benchmarking website. Boards
Governors can use this information to compare spending against that of similar schools. Benchmarking financial information in this way helps governors to question whether resources could be used more efficiently. For example:

  • Are other schools buying things cheaper or getting better results with less spending per pupil?
  • If the cost of energy seems high compared to similar schools, are there opportunities for investment in energy-saving devices to reduce the cost?
  • If spend on learning resources seems high compared to similar schools, are there opportunities for collaborating with other local schools to bring costs down?
  • If your spending on staffing is higher than other similar schools, are these schools achieving more in terms of attainment? If so what might be learnt from them about how they deploy their workforce?
  • If the spend on teaching assistants is higher than other schools, are Governors sure that they are being used effectively and efficiently to support pupil outcomes?

42. There is a wide range of information sources and tools available to help schools secure the best value for money. The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) have published their Basic tenets of sound financial planning to ensure that your school is running at maximum efficiency.

2.4.3 School visits

Governors need to know their school, if accountability is going to be robust and their vision for the school is to be achieved. Many governors find that visiting, particularly during the day, is a helpful way to find out more about the school. Through pre-arranged visits that have a clear focus, governors can see whether the school is implementing the policies and improvement plans they have signed off and how they are working in practice. Visits also provide an opportunity to talk with pupils, staff and parents to gather their views, through [sic] are unlikely to be sufficient for these purposes.

Part 1 looked at the Contents

Part 2 loooked at Section 1

Shena Lewington has an online version of Section 2 on her website.

The Governance handbook Section 1: Working out what’s new matters. Part 2

In Part 1 I compared the Contents of the old Governors’ handbook and the new Governance handbook. I continue with the comparison of the old and new version here.

  • The Governance handbook is shorter than the old Governors’ handbook (114 pages as compared to 131).
  • The reason for changing the name is given as “This Governance Handbook has been re-named to make clear that it applies to all those involved in governance. It now refers throughout to the ‘board’ to emphasise that it applies equally to the governing body of a small maintained school as it does to the board of a large MAT.” (My emphasis).

In this post I’ve looked at Section One. Things worth noting are shown in red and my comments are in green.

Section One – The essentials of effective governance The role of governing bodies

Section One now deals with “Effective governance” whereas in the older version, the handbook had started by discussing the role of the governing body. The core functions are mentioned in Section One of the new version and are then discussed in greater detail in Section Two. Section One of the new handbook starts by laying down the basis of effective governance and reminds me of Emma Knights’ Eight elements of Effective Governance!

2. The core features of effective governance also apply at any scale and in any context, and are common to good governance practice in the charity and corporate sectors. They include the importance of the board having:

[This is the first time I can remember a reference being made to governance in charity and corporate sectors]

• The right people with the necessary skills, time and commitment, and sufficient diversity of perspectives to ensure internal challenge, all actively contributing in line with clearly defined roles and responsibilities under an effective chair and an explicit code of conduct, and with active succession planning;

• Clear governance structures with tightly defined remits, particularly in relation to functions delegated to committees or other bodies;

• Clear separation between the strategic and operational in terms of the role of the board and its school leaders;

• A positive relationship between the board and its school leaders enabling robust constructive challenge on the basis of a good understanding of objective data particularly on pupil progress, staff performance and finances;

• The support and advice of an independent and professional clerk and, in the case of academies, company secretary;

Robust processes for financial and business planning and oversight and effective controls for compliance, propriety and value for money; and

Processes for regular self-evaluation, review and improvement including; skills audits, training and development plans, and independent external reviews as necessary.

Compare the above with Emma’s Eight Elements of Effective Governance below.

  1. The right people round the table
  2. Understanding role & responsibilities
  3. Good chairing
  4. Professional clerking
  5. Good relationships based on trust
  6. Knowing the school –the data, the staff, the parents, the children, the community, the quality of teaching
  7. Committed to asking challenging questions
  8. Confident to have courageous conversations in the interests of the children and young people

There is a large section on MAT governance which perhaps indicates the preferred direction of travel.

Forming or joining a group of schools can help create more effective governance. The board that governs the group gains a more strategic perspective and the ability to create more robust accountability through the opportunity to compare and contrast between schools. The boards that decide to join a group are relieved of the burden of ultimate accountability and many welcome responsibility for financial and other corporate functions being carried centrally, leaving them freer to focus on pupil progress and attainment. Common governance also lays the foundation for a range of other benefits for pupils, staff and budgets, as discussed further in Section 3. 8

4. When a board decides to grow the number of schools it governs, it might try to develop its existing governance model to form a small MAT or federation of two or three schools, but growth beyond three schools usually represents the first real need to overhaul governance arrangements. Likewise the governance structures of a small MAT will start to become stretched at around 6-7 schools and by 10 a further overhaul will be needed.

5. In order to transition to academy status or grow successfully from a single school into a small MAT or federation, and onward into a large MAT, the board should commission a robust independent review of its effectiveness and readiness for growth. The All Party Parliamentary Group for Governance and Leadership’s Questions for boards and MAT boards to ask themselves provide a helpful framework for doing this. As the organisation the board is governing becomes larger and more complex organisationally and financially, governance can and in some cases must change in a number of ways:

1. Culture: it is important to generate a professional ethos across the entire governance structure and a culture of one organisation and away from any sense of ‘my school/ your school’.

2. Skills: an increasing number of pupils and schools are impacted by the quality of the individuals on the board, and there is hence an increasing imperative for the board to act professionally and actively recruit, develop and retain high calibre board members and an effective chair with the necessary skills to govern and lead the increasingly complex organisation and oversee its growth.

3. Executive oversight: there is increasing opportunity, and possibly need, for the board to discharge some of its functions of governance and oversight through a central professional executive team – starting with an executive principal and finance director, and with further growth extending to a chief executive officer.

4. Structures: there is an expanding range of options for how to design governance structures and levels of delegation. As the need for additional tiers within non-executive and executive governance structures grows to avoid unwieldy spans of control, there is an increasing need for absolute clarity on the role and remit of each part of the structure and the relationship and reporting arrangements between them – including, for example in a MAT, between the role of a local governing body (LGB) and an executive principal in holding a school-level principal to account.

5. Processes: there is an increasing need for the board to be professional in the way it conducts its business. It needs more standardised and robust systems and processes for governance and oversight, including systems for reporting and analysing school performance data; for financial planning, management and control; and for HR and other business processes. It also needs to ensure more standardised teaching and school improvement methodologies are in place across its schools based on proven pedagogies.

6. Risk: increasingly, boards need a more sophisticated understanding of financial, organisational and educational risk; its assessment and its minimisation – and this in turn highlights that increasingly the board must be strategic, that it must focus on priorities and that it must manage by exception.

Shena Lewington has published an online version of Section One of The Governance handbook on her website.