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New Governance Obligations - A Checklist for Academies

on Wednesday, 26 June 2019.

A new edition of the Governance Handbook was published in March 2019. The purpose of the revision was to update legislative and policy references, and to clarify some areas.

The checklist below is intended to help you consider your compliance against the key changes. It is mostly aimed at academies in order for them to consider whether they are complying with the changes. In addition, there is a specific section at the end aimed at maintained schools. In due course, we will also be reporting on the changes to the Academies Financial Handbook, published by the DfE on Thursday 27 June 2019. 

Strategic Leadership

  • Parental engagement -  Are you regularly communicating with parents and carers? Is parental engagement used by your board to inform strategic decision-making? Can your board demonstrate the methods used to seek the views of parents and carers? Does your trust have mechanisms in place to engage meaningfully with parents and carers?


  • Workload considerations - Are you taking into account the principles and recommendations as set out in the Making Data Work report and the Workload reduction toolkit? Has your trust recently reviewed its current policies and practices in line with the above materials?

  • Robust oversight - Is your trust board meeting three times a year? If you are a larger Academy Trust, are you meeting six times a year?  If not, have you described in your governance statement how your Board has maintained effective oversite of funds with less than 6 meetings a year?

  • Analyse School Performance (APS) - Is your board aware that RAISE online has been replaced with APS?


  • DBS and section 128 checks - Are you carrying out a Section 128 check for those in management roles?

  • Governance professionals (the clerk) - Is your trust using the clerking competency framework to ensure that its clerk has the appropriate skills, training and knowledge required for your Board?


  • "LAAPs" - Are any of your members associated with local authorities that influence your trust? This could include current employees, members or officers of a Local Authority or persons who are, or who have been, within the last four years an employee, member or officer of a local authority.


  • New benchmarks - Where relevant, are you ensuring there is an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access all pupils in years 8 to 13 for the purpose of informing them about approved technical education qualification?

    Is your board working towards the Gatsby Charitable Foundation's Benchmarks to develop and improve its career provision? There is a new expectation from the government that schools begin to work towards these benchmarks now and meet them by the end of 2020.

  • Pre-appointment process - Is your board satisfied that all appropriate checks have been undertaken in relation to obtaining a reference? See paragraph 94 of the guidance for a helpful checklist.

  • Executive pay - Does your board's decisions about the levels of executive pay follow a robust evidence-based process? Is your board satisfied that the level of executive pay reflects the individuals' role and responsibilities?

  • Safeguarding and pupil welfare - Does your trust have an effective 'child protection policy' in place which is publically available and updated every year?

  • School food standards - Is your board challenging senior leaders to ensure that the school(s) is/are compliant with the School Food Standards?

  • Fire risk assessments - Does your trust have an appropriate and up-to-date Fire Risk Assessment in place for all school buildings within its control?

  • Childcare on site - Is your trust satisfied that its school(s) ensure(s) any provider of childcare on site has appropriate policies in place in relation to safeguarding children?


  • Schools causing concern - Is your trust aware of the Schools Causing Concern guidance and the ways in which the Secretary of State for Education can intervene with your school(s) if it is judged inadequate by Ofsted?

  • Training and support - Is your board aware of the training and support offered free from the DfE and other training and support offered by various providers to facilitate its continued development? Is your clerk supporting the board in relation to training opportunities?

Curriculum - Your Duties

Maintained schools should be aware that they must publish:

  • the content of the school curriculum in each academic year for every subject
  • the names of any phonics or reading scheme used in KS1
  • a list of the courses available to pupils at KS4, including GCSEs
  • how parents or the public can find out more about the curriculum the school is following 

How Can We Help You?

We can support you with all aspects of Education law, including:

  • guidance and support in relation to DBS and section 128 checks
  • advice and support in relation to LAAPs
  • advising on governance arrangements and appropriate clerking requirements
  • company secretarial training
  • reviewing and advising on any of your trust's policies

For more information on how we can assist you with governance related queries, please contact Jaime Hobday in our Academies team on 0121 227 3703, or complete the below form.

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