Guidance for Academy Council Governors
‘Effective governance provides confident, strategic leadership to schools and creates robust accountability, oversight and assurance for their educational and financial performance. It is ambitious for all pupils and infused with a passion for education and a commitment to continuous school improvement that enables the best outcomes. It is grounded in reality as defined by high-quality data and a full understanding of the views and needs of staff, pupils, parents, carers and local communities. It is driven by inquisitive, independent minds and through courageous conversations which are conducted with humility, good judgements, resilience and determination.’
- Governance Handbook January 2017 (DfE)
What are the responsibilities of an Academy Council Governor
These are set out in the Terms of Reference and Scheme of Delegation for each School (Academy) in the Acorn Education Trust.
In summary, the Academy Council Governors are the guardians of:
- the standards in the school
- the safety of the students and staff
- the school’s identity and community ethos
The role has 3 strands – it is strategic, it is about holding senior leaders to account and making sure money is well spent. It will involve:
- Implementing actions to comply with statutory regulations and the Funding Agreements,
- Setting the aims and objectives of the school
- Implementing the school admission and attendance policies and the educational vision of the school, including, the School Development Plan
- Overseeing the school’s activities.
- Liaising with Trust Directors, COO and Finance Manager regarding the budget.
- Monitoring and reviewing expenditure to ensure compliance with the overall financial plan for the school
- Assisting Trust Directors in complying with the provisions of the Funding Agreements when requested.
- Maintaining the school estate in accordance with the guidelines established by the Trust.
- Implementing the Trust’s procurement policies insofar as they impact on the school.
- Ensuring that procedures are in place to notify the Trust of any changes to fixed assets used by the school.
- Ensuring that procedures are in place to comply with the Trust’s financial regulations in respect of portable assets.
- Approving all school staff appointments, (except the Headteacher) job descriptions, appraisals and dismissals. (Salary and terms of service are set by the Trust Directors).
- Overseeing organisations within the school, such as Parent Teacher Associations etc. to ensure that all income and expenditure is dealt with in accordance with the Trust’s financial regulations and the Academies Financial Handbook.
What do Academy Council Governors do?
Academy Governors seek to offer the school, and Headteacher challenge and support in equal measure.
- The relationship between Academy Governors, particularly between the Chairperson, and the Headteacher is crucial to effective governance. Members work in close partnership while always remembering that it is the Headteacher’s role to run the school.
- Sufficient professional distance needs to be kept which will let the Headteacher run the school while the Academy Council holds her/him to account.
What does it take to be a good Academy Governor
Firstly, we expect all governors to adhere to the 7 principles of public life:
Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
Holders of public office should be truthful.
Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.
We also like to see:
- A Commitment to the critical friend role (not inspector/head role)
- An Open mind
- Empathy and sensitivity
- An Effective communicator
- A sense of humour
- An Ability to focus on ‘the big picture’
- A willingness to learn
On appointment all Academy Members will have an up-to-date DBS check and be given safeguarding training.
The Academy Council meets 4 – 6 times per year. Dates are published on the school calendar. All Academy Governors attend these meetings.
Academy Governors may, from time to time, be asked to attend additional meetings in school.
- Provide a link between the Governing Bodies and relevant teacher
- Provide a link between the Governing Body/school and parents/community
- Promote the interests of the subject
- Undertake relevant training/development
- Liaise regularly with relevant teachers
- Visits classrooms to observe the subject being taught
- Monitor/evaluate the provision and use of relevant resources
The Chair person is elected by the Academy Council annually.
The Chair of Governors meets, by arrangement with the Headteacher on a regular basis. And also attends the Chairs of Acorn Education Trust meetings.
Key responsibilities include:
- Develop and sustain positive professional relationships with the Headteacher and the Academy, Governors, Directors and the Clerk/Governor Adviser.
- Chair meetings, facilitating involvement of all members and summarising the outcomes of discussion under each agenda item.
- Produce an annual key agenda items schedule and initiate the agenda for each meeting
- Ensure meetings are quorate (3 governors) and follow up any attendance issues.
- Approve and sign minutes
- Ensure master copies of policies/procedures under the remit of the council are updated and publicised
- Provide a brief verbal report at each council meeting on outcome of actions noted at previous meeting
- Be familiar with relevant sections of Governors’ Handbook.
- Identify training/support needs of individual members and research appropriate solutions.
- Support new members, providing them with minutes of recent meetings and any other relevant documents.
The Vice Chair is elected by the Academy Council annually. S/he deputises for the Chair of governors and may be delegated specific roles by the Chair person. For example:
- Recruitment /Induction of new governors
- Collating evidence of governors’ work and impact
- Monitoring governors’ information on school website
- Annual parents’ questionnaire
- Building links with wider school community
- Engagement with parents and carers
Governor Adviser to the Academy Trust
The Governor Adviser is clerk and is part of the team, who also works across several schools in the Acorn Education Trust. In conjunction with the Chairperson s/he prepares agendas, takes and circulates action focussed minutes. S/he is able to support with (sources of) information regarding legal issues, training opportunities and advice.
Governance Handbook January 2017