Clerks News - Summer 2016

National database of governors and trustees

As outlined in the government’s White Paper published in March - Educational Excellence Everywhere – the Department for Education (DfE) has announced that from September 2016, details about those governing in maintained schools and academies must be uploaded to Edubase (the DfE’s database of all schools in the country).

For academies, this requirement is stipulated in the updated Academies Financial Handbook 2016 but the DfE has pre-populated Edubase with the current information they hold about those governing in academy trusts. However, trusts will need to check the details held on Edubase for accuracy, make any updates, and complete any empty fields. Going forward, trusts will be required to update Edubase as the vacancies arise and new appointments are made.

For maintained schools, the DfE is using section 538 of the Education Act 1996, which requires governing bodies to submit such information to the Secretary of State as s/he requests. As the DfE does not currently hold information about those governing in maintained schools, this information will need to be filled in from scratch. As with academies, Edubase must be updated regularly where information about those governing changes.

Information regarding the exact details that will be collected and published on Edubase is outlined in the DfE’s press release. Governing boards will still have to publish details on their websites.

It is likely that a member of school staff will have the duty of updating Edubase and have login details. Clerks should however ensure that the information they have is up to date.

Academies Financial Handbook 2016

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has published the 2016 Academies Financial Handbook (AFH). This replaces the 2015 version from 1 September 2016.

There must be a lead executive in multi-academy trusts (MATs) and so called ‘flat MATs’ will not be permitted

A summary of the key changes from the previous version can be found on page 5 of the document. Many of the changes clarify or emphasise existing parts of the academies financial framework, while seeking to align these more firmly with terminology in the Governance Handbook, in particular it now makes absolutely clear that trusts must publish their scheme of delegation for governance functions. The 2016 edition features an enhanced focus on identifying skills needed on the board, both at trust board level, and for local governing committees, and includes further drives to promote increased transparency and openness.

It also for the first time sets out in writing, what Department for Education officials have been saying for some time; that there must be a lead executive in multi-academy trusts (MATs) and so called ‘flat MATs’ will not be permitted. The AFH states “The board of trustees of the academy trust must appoint, in writing, a senior executive leader who may, in accordance with the trust’s articles of association, act as an ex officio trustee. In trusts comprising a single academy this should be the principal. In multi-academy trusts it should be the chief executive or equivalent. The role of senior executive leader must not rotate”.

Our interpretation is that this will apply to all MATs, not just new MATs. We have updated our Academies Financial Handbook page on the Guidance Centre underlining these changes and briefly summarise what these mean.

We have updated our Academies Financial Handbook page on the Guidance Centre underlining the changes and briefly summarising what these mean.

New NGA guidance on school visits

NGA has today published a brand new piece of guidance on school visits. Knowing your school: School visits, offers a comprehensive yet easy to use guide for getting the most out of visits to your school. Visits to schools can be enormously useful in carrying out the strategic role of the governing board. At the heart of that role is one of NGA’s eight elements of effective governance : knowing the school – the data, the staff, the parents, the children and the community. There are numerous ways those governing can know their school but actually visiting the school in person provides a valuable insight into how the school operates as well as an opportunity to put other information in context.

This guidance explores how a well-planned programme of visits can form an important element of the effective workings of the governing board. Split into key sections including setting visit expectations, common pitfalls and frequency of visits, the guidance provides a simple yet effective framework for school visits, including the do’s and don’ts, a model visits protocol and a model visits report. To access this, and for more on knowing your school(s), visit the Guidance Centre today.

Clerks should remind governors of the benefits of having clear guidance on school governor visits.

New NGA guidance on parental engagement

This guidance is part of NGA’s popular Knowing Your School series produced with partners such the Fischer Family Trust and GL Assessment. For this updated guide, we teamed up with PTA-UK.

The NGA has released updated guidance on parental engagement. Engaging with parents is an excellent way for governors and trustees to get to know their school’s strengths and weaknesses.

Clerks may be asked by their governors on what the best way is for governors to engage with aents without staying into the operational.

What's inside?

  • why are parents important?
  • it's about ethos: engaging and involving parents
  • what do you want to know from parents?
  • measuring performance
  • ways to survey and inform parents
  • acting on results

Download the guidance here - Knowing your school: Engaging parents.

DfE publishes details of intervention powers for PRUs causing concern

Following changes to intervention powers introduced by the Education and Adoption Act 2016, the Department for Education has released guidance on the powers that can be taken in respect of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU).

From 27 June 2016, the Secretary of State will have a duty to make an academy order in respect of a PRU that has been judged 'inadequate' by Ofsted. This duty will apply to PRUs judged inadequate prior to 27 June 2016, in addition to PRUs that are judged inadequate subsequently.

Once made, the academy order can only be revoked by the Secretary of State in exceptional circumstances such as the PRU no longer being viable and therefore it would be more appropriate for it to close.

Updated Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance

Clerks should ensure that all governors are familiar with this guidance.

The DfE has updated this statutory guidance which will apply from 5 September 2016. Whilst there are no major changes to policy, the guidance does provide further clarity and emphasis in certain areas. The key changes relevant to governing boards include:

  • A clearer expectation for governing boards to have a nominated governor who is responsible for the school’s safeguarding arrangements;
  • This does not absolve the rest of the governing board of responsibility for safeguarding and you should ensure that regular reports are received and discussed by the governing board about safeguarding.
  • Ensuring the safeguarding and child protection policies account for peer-on-peer abuse, additional safeguarding challenges for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and honour-based violence;
  • Providing opportunities for staff to contribute to the development of such policies based on their safeguarding experiences;
  • The fact that the designated safeguarding lead (DSL) must be a member of the senior leadership team and cannot delegate this responsibility;
  • Ensuring (rather than considering how) safeguarding is taught as part of a broad and balanced curriculum;
  • Checking for section 128 directions (these will be flagged in a DBS check) which prohibit or restrict a person from taking part in the management of an independent school (including academies and free schools) including in a management position as an employee, as a trustee, as a member or local governor;
  • Inclusion of the requirement for maintained school governors to provide enhanced DBS certificates.

As a result of the updated guidance governing boards should now review their safeguarding policies and procedures, and the content and policies for staff safeguarding training. NGA is also producing a suite of safeguarding guidance which will be available in the Guidance Centre shortly.

Persons of significant control

A reminder that as of 6 April 2016, all academy trusts must have established an internal register of Persons of Significant Control (PSC) – this will be in addition to their registers of members, trustees and their interests. The register must identify any person connected with the trust who has significant control over it and include the necessary details about who they are and the nature of their control.

From 30 June 2016, all academy trusts must submit an annual Confirmation Statement (which replaces the Annual Return) to Companies House, along with the necessary details of their PSCs which will be published on a central register.

This will normally be undertaken by the company secretary although the clerks may feel it necessary to remind governors.

Download the guidance here- Persons of significant control        

Published: 22/07/2016, by Sam Henson
Last Updated: 30/11/2016, by Sam Henson