There is an overarching need for academy trusts to demonstrate their proper use of public funds. The Education Funding Agency as regulators of academy trusts sets out their expectations through the individual funding agreements with trusts and broadly through the Academies Financial Handbook.
Charity and company law also place duties on trusts. As a result, it is essential for academy trusts to have and to be seen to have effective and proactive governance. This means directors, governors and senior management must exercise leadership and demonstrate they are challenging decision making appropriately.
Without effective governance it will not be possible to deliver the improving educational outcomes demanded by government, parents and other stakeholders. Nor will real value for money be achieved.
Efficient and appropriate organisation design and clarity over individual responsibilities is essential to effective planning, control and decision making. Recruiting or, where realistic, developing the right range of skill sets in people appointed to roles in the structure is equally important in establishing the governance capacity required. Even then without clear, concise and timely information good governance cannot be achieved.
Do your structures ensure the responsibility for monitoring, challenging and decision making amongst directors, governors and management is unambiguous and that people can be held to account? Have you appointed and do you maintain the right mix of skills in the key roles? Do you have a clear understanding and approach to delivering value for money through your governance processes? Are directors, governors and managers provided with appropriate information for their roles? How proactive are your planning, review and challenge processes? Do all directors and governors understand what is required of them and take responsibility for their actions?
The CIPFA Academies Hub offers guidance and advice across all the elements of governance. It will include guidance on the secretariat tasks that need to be undertaken. It will provide members with information on, for example, the most effective and safest ways to establish clerking services setting out the must do activities. On-line forums are available for discussing issues and drawing on the experience of others. Articles will provide members with the most up to date information on changes of expectations with respect to governance both nationally and with respect to international standards. There will also be reports on areas where standards have been found to be lacking and will provide commentary on how to avoid such situations and generally offer help on maintaining standards.
The Hub provides discounts on many courses and materials for new and experienced directors and governors and offers access to services which include governance evaluation, organisational reviews, benchmarking, and financial control. If offers management information reviews which will help trusts to specify and produce information that will support the governance role and will, in particular, enable effective and constructive challenge.
Nicky Morgan speaks about the importance of school governance / DfE
Not enough time off work for school governors / NGA
Risk management in academies / CIPFA
School governor insights: top tips for prospective candidates / CIPFA and Zurich Municipal
Visions for Education / Public Finance and CIPFA
Governors handbook / DfE and NCTL
Governance structures, and roles and responsibilities for governors / NCTL
The 7 principles of public life / Committee on Standards in Public Life
School admissions code / Department for Education
Chains of academies benefits and pitfalls / NCSL
NGA comments on the findings from the biggest governance survey of the year / National Governors Association
Financial assurance and governance in academies 2013: workshop presentation / CSFAN and BGF
Financial assurance and governance in academies 2013: briefing / CSFAN and BGF
Good governance in academies
School governance upping the game
Effective governance and financial management in academies / CIPFA
Understanding strategic risk management in academies and further education colleges / CIPFA