Guide to Key Changes to the Department of Education Revised Governor Handbook – Published January 2014.

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This month The Department of Education published its revised Governor Handbook. First published in May 2013, the Governor Handbook replaced the Governor Guide to the Law, a guidance document that was solely relevant to maintained schools. The Governor Handbook sets out the functions, core responsibilities and legal requirements for all Governing Bodies as well as providing signposting to further information and guidance useful for governors.

The Department of Education, in it’s drive to raise standards of governance in all schools nationally, recognises and responds to the increasingly diverse status of schools and the impending changes to the National Curriculum in the revised Governor Handbook. The handbook now includes guidance for Maintained schools, Academies and Free Schools. Where guidance differs for specific types of school this is clearly referenced throughout the guidance.

Lord Nash, in his foreword address gives recognition to the hard work and commitment of governors and shares his intent for the handbook to be a tool that makes it easier for governors to do a good job by removing unnecessary rules and regulations and providing a resource for governors to ensure they are aware of their legal responsibilities and duties.

TIP: If the issue and question of converting to academy status is on your governing bodies agenda then the Governor Handbook sets out the differences in governance of a maintained school and that of an academy so would be a useful resource for governors to access. The Governor Handbook can be found here


Here are the main revisions for governing bodies to be aware of and should explore further:

The role of governing bodies

The benefits of governing more than one school are now acknowledged

The guidance now includes a more detailed explanation of what it means for governors to play a strategic role within school

Clearer expectations around governors’ school visits are identified

There is now included an explanation of the role of academy trustees as charity trustees and company directors

A new section is included on governors’ personal liability

Further details of support available to governors is provided

Constitution and procedures

More detail is included on the key considerations in determining the structure and membership of the governing body

Included is a more detailed explanation of the constitution of academy trust boards and academy governance models

Details added of proposed changes to constitution regulations

Education and inspection

There is updated information regarding the impending changes to the National Curriculum and the planning and implementation of the new curriculum for September 2014.

Pupil wellbeing

New information on pupil voice and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

New guidance for governing bodies’ on their responsibility for safeguarding and child protection

Teachers and support staff

New advice is included on discrimination in appointments and during employment

New guidance included on trade unions, disputes with staff and premature retirement

Organisational changes and the use of school premises

Updated information provided on conversion to academy status and support of other schools for schools that convert to academy status

School finance

Update on financial requirements for academies, governors’ liabilities, whistleblowing policies and charging for school activities

New guidance included regarding payments to governors and the responsibilities of charity trustees on Academy Boards for compliance of charity law regarding payments for services.


I do hope you have found this Guide to the key changes in the revised Governor Handbook useful, if you would like any support for governance or would like to find out more about the services I offer please contact me by calling me on 07841612208 or send me an email

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