Academies Show 2016: NGA publishes models for multi-academy trust governance

20/04/2016

The National Governors’ Association (NGA) has today published the first version of our working models, to help trustees in multi academy trusts (MATs) decide the best governance structure for their schools in order to be effective. The models also suggest what to delegate and to whom, with a number of given scenarios.

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The release is to coincide with a major free event in the Education calendar - The Academies Show, where NGA is delivering two sessions and a keynote by Emma Knights.

These pioneering guides build on the experience that NGA has of working with MATs around the country of various sizes, complexity and maturity, as well as conducting our own reviews of MAT governance as part of the Training and Consultancy Service.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said: “I’m delighted to be speaking today to those who govern and lead academies and those from maintained schools who are considering their options, and recommending that they download our new working models. School governance is about ensuring the best outcomes for children and young people, so it’s really important that everyone understands their role within the MAT; who makes the decisions and how to make their voice heard.

“Earlier this year we held a join event with the charity Academy Ambassadors, bringing together thirty-five MATs at the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss these very issues. This grass roots intelligence, and our own expertise, continues to inform our guidance as well as our publications. Look out for our brand new guide later this year entitled: Welcome to a multi academy trust.”

These models acknowledge that in MATs, boards of trustees are accountable in law for all major decisions about their academies but this does not mean that the board is required to make all the decisions themselves. Many decisions can and should be delegated, including to the CEO and local governing committees.

The system of such delegation needs to be clearly recorded in what’s known as a ‘scheme of delegation’ and this is published on the MATs website. There is a lot of confusion across the country about who can take what decisions in multi academy trusts; there is not just one correct way of doing things, but clarity is essential. This is part of NGA's contribution to help our members set up strong, effective structures. What and how much the board decides to delegate can depend on a number of factors including:

·         The size of the MAT

·         The way in which its leadership is structured

·         Geographical spread of the schools

·         The number of pupils in the MAT’s schools

The scheme of delegation is the key document defining the lines of responsibility and accountability in a MAT. It should be a simple yet systematic way of ensuring members, trustees, committees (including local governing committees), executive leadership and academy principals are clear about their roles and responsibilities, allowing everyone to get on with the business of improving outcomes for children and young people.

Clare Collins, NGA’s Lead Consultant, said: “To date NGA has advised on the governance structures of 19 multi academy trusts of varying sizes and stages of development, including nine external reviews. MAT trustees should give serious consideration to these models when thinking about how their MAT is structured, and consider contacting me: clare.collins@nga.org.uk  for tailored advice on developing your own scheme of delegation.”   

Sam Henson, NGA’s Head of Information, said: “A good scheme of delegation ensures executive leadership is clear about which decisions are held by the trustee board and which aren’t. It promotes a culture of transparency and responsibility and helps us to avoid misunderstandings. Governance in groups of schools is complex and so these models demonstrate the underlying principals which determine the lines of accountability, so it is clear where certain decision making should lie. Let me know if you have any feedback, I’d be delighted to hear from you: sam.henson@nga.org.uk

You'll need to be a member of the NGA to access our new models. Find out more and join today!

Download the guides:

Model 1: Delegation to local governing committees

In this scheme of delegation the trust board delegates responsibility for the performance of the trust, including the performance of the academies within the trust, to the chief executive officer. However, some responsibilities concerning the performance of each academy are delegated to a local governing committee.    

Model 2: Academy Councils  

In this scheme of delegation the trust board delegates responsibility for the performance of the trust, including the performance of the academies within the trust, to the chief executive officer. At school level are academy councils who understand how the school is led and managed, act as the eyes and ears of the school and its community and have a role in influencing decision making. 

Model 3: Delegation to cluster governing committees    

In this scheme of delegation the trust board delegates responsibility for the performance of the trust, including the performance of the academies within the trust, to the chief executive officer. However, some responsibilities concerning the performance of groups of academies are delegated to cluster governing committees.

Model 4: ‘Earned autonomy’

In this scheme of delegation the trust board delegates responsibility for the performance of the trust, including the performance of the academies within the trust, to the chief executive officer, and determines on a case by case basis whether to delegate some responsibilities concerning the performance of each academy to a local governing committee. 

NGA at the Academies Show 2016

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Keynote: “Addressing school governance and delivering strong leadership”, Main conference hall: 12:10 – 12:30 and Q&A – 12:30 – 12:45 Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association

Session: "The right people around the table: recruiting new governors and trustees to school boards", Recruitment & Skills, Open Theatre: 12.30 – 13:00 Sam Henson, Head of Information and Katie Everett, Business Development Assistant  

Session: "Local governance in MATs", Theatre 5: 15:30 – 16:15, Clare Collins, NGA Lead Consultant and Sam Henson, Head of Information

 

Don’t forget to visit us at stand 737 at the Academies Show 2016
and follow us on Twitter @NGAMedia

 

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