It is essential that an academy, independent school, FE college, or other educational body, has in place appropriate governance arrangements and structures to enable it to effectively deal with a range of issues including in relation to employees, estate and all other legal and financial issues.
It is necessary to understand and observe the distinction between:
- members–who are responsible for the educational body achieving its charitable objects and have power to appoint and remove the governors;
- governors – who also fulfil the role of charitable trustees and company directors and who are responsible for the three ‘core functions’ of:
- ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
- holding the executive leader to account; and
- overseeing the financial performance of the academy, independent school, FE college or other body; and
- executive leader (CEO, executive headteacher, headteacher or principal) who is responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of the academy, independent school, FE college or other educational body.
There is a very helpful DfE guide entitled ‘Governance’ in relation to academies, which applies equally to independent schools, FE colleges and other educational bodies, which provides the following very helpful advice that: “All boards should be tightly focused and no larger than they need to be to have all the necessary skills to carry out their functions effectively, with everyone actively contributing relevant skills and experience. In general, the department believes that smaller boards are more likely to be cohesive and dynamic, and able to act more decisively. Boards cannot afford to carry passengers.”
Our corporate and commercial team have a wealth of experience of dealing with governance issues including:
- advising on charity and company law issues;
- advising on constitutional issues arising out of the academy’s articles of association;
- advising on the constitution of the board of governors;
- advising in relation to the appointment and removal of governors;
- advising on conflict of interest issues; and
- advising in relation to a range of other governance issues.
We also facilitate and participate in seminars and workshops in relation to governance issues so as to enable members, governors and executive leaders gain a clear understanding of their responsibilities and how the respective roles relate to each other.