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Clerks to Governing Bodies and Trustee Boards - What's On Your Agenda?

on Friday, 13 January 2017.

As schools close for the Christmas period, there is no rest for the wicked as they say, or at least not for clerks and company secretaries, whose thoughts will be turning to the first Governors' or Trustees' meeting of the New Year.

We thought it would be useful, in light of a host of recent developments - the withdrawal of the White Paper (Educational Excellence Everywhere), the Green Paper (Schools that Work for Everyone), a new National Schools Commissioner and the DfE's continued focus on good governance - to set out some ideas and context to shape your next agenda.

Academisation, do you understand the landscape?

Whilst the initial plan for a compulsory long-stop date of 2022 for full academisation has been withdrawn, Governors still need to be aware that the Education and Adoption Act 2016 (the Act) might apply to their school, and further, that the Governments' preference remains for schools to become academies within multi academy trusts (MATs).

The Education and Adoption Act 2016

Governors of schools which may be eligible for intervention or coasting, should consider talking to their Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) about potential partners as they will not be able to convert to academy status alone or lead their own trust.

Governors of schools which are good or outstanding should consider whether becoming an academy is the right option for them, and what they can do to support schools that require improvement or are inadequate in their area.

Trustees of academy trusts should also consider their position in light of the Act as the Secretary of State has the power to re-broker an academy which is eligible for intervention. Good and outstanding academies should expect their RSC to enquire about their future plans, including sponsorship to build capacity in their area and so Trustees should think strategically about their next steps and seek professional advice as necessary.

'Health Checks' and Good Governance

The 'health check' announced by Sir David Carter earlier this year for MATs that are proposing to take on more schools is being piloted. The checks will be led by a CEO, a Finance Director and a Chair of Trustees. Trustees of academy trusts considering expansion should start thinking about their strengths and weaknesses in areas including governance, finance and standards.

Along with the checks, each time an academy trust proposes to expand by taking on a converting school or a re-brokered academy, the RSC's Headteacher Board will also review governance arrangements. Consent will often be conditional upon adopting the latest model Articles of Association and funding agreement documentation. Trustees should start thinking about the implications of this.

Practical Considerations for your Next Meeting

Some points for you to consider for the next year include:

  • are your governance arrangements in line with the Academies Financial Handbook and the Governance Handbook?
  • are you eligible for intervention or coasting under the Act?
  • if you're thinking about expansion, do you understand the policy changes between your governance and funding documents and the latest models so that you understand the implications for your academy trust?

The consultation on the Green Paper closed on 12 December and we are expecting an initial response from the Government in the New Year. Watch this space for any updates.

For further information on good governance or to discuss your strategic options, contact our Academies specialists Jaime Hobday on 0121 227 3703, or Yvonne Spencer on 020 7665 0870.

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