Important update for all Trustees, Governors and Clerks to Governors.
Today the DfE published the long anticipated updated Governance Handbook and following a consultation, a brand new Competency Framework for Governance. Lord Nash in his foreword makes clear that both documents are of equal relevance to all those involved in the governance of our schools, whatever the model of school and should be read and used together.
The Governance Handbook
The guidance introduces a new summary of the 6 core essential elements of governance that provides a greater clarity of responsibility and accountability. There isn’t anything included of any surprise and nothing radically new but the focus on governing boards as the key decision makers is a common theme throughout the new handbook.
What has changed in the Governance Handbook? (Taken from The Governance Handbook January 2017. Department of Education).
The updated edition of the Governance handbook contains a new summary description of the six key features of effective governance. This provides the structure for the six sections that follow and also for the department’s new Competency framework for governance.
The most significant changes to the content within other sections include:
Section 2: Strategic Leadership.
- A new section at 2.3 bringing together material about the board’s role as the key decision-maker.
Section 3: Accountability.
- A stronger emphasis on ensuring financial propriety at 3.4.
Section 4: People
- Updated text at 4.1.2 to reflect the new requirement that all those involved in governance in maintained schools, as well as in academy trusts, must have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
- New advice on conducting informed elections at 4.1.4.
- New sections bringing together material on the important role of the chair at 4.3 and of the clerk at 4.4.
- A new explanation at 4.8 of the risks associated with close family relationships between those involved in governance or between them and senior employees.
- Details of the duty on boards to provide information about individuals involved in governance via Edubase at 4.8.
Section 5: Structures
- Updated guidance on the role of Trustees and Members at 5.2.1.
- Clarification at 5.6 that all boards are required to publish a scheme of delegation to explain their governance arrangements, together with new guidance on what makes an effective scheme of delegation.
- Updated guidance on MATs at 5.2.2 and umbrella trusts at 5.5.1.
Section 6: Compliance
- Confirmation at 6.7 that an individual on the board should take leadership responsibility for the organisation’s safeguarding arrangements, which include its Prevent duty.
- New advice at 6.7.1 on handling allegations of abuse made against other children.
Section 7: Evaluation
- Updated content on schools causing concern and on coasting schools at section 7.4.
The Competency Framework for Governance
The Competency Framework for Governance is completely new and sets out the expected competencies needed for effective governance. It is non-statutory guidance that is again relevant for schools, academies and multi academy trusts. The competencies include are;
- Strategic Leadership
I am not going to go through the document (or the updated Governance Handbook either) in detail for you all. I’ll be honest, I did think about doing that but those of you who already know me know that I have ‘Great Expectations’. This means that I am passionate about governors who volunteer their time and expertise but I am equally passionate that governors take responsibility for keeping themselves up to date and informed. I think it is really important that all governors, trustees and clerks to governors read both documents and then spend time to look at what elements of the Competency Framework need to be introduced into current structures. Start by thinking about induction processes, governor, trustee and clerk development, how you evaluate yourselves as individuals, as a board and also your skills audit. This is going to be very different for each board and so each board must take ownership of it themselves in partnership.
You might also have gathered by now that I don’t believe in re-creating the wheel. You all already volunteer an incredible amount of your time and so it is important that your time be used efficiently and wisely. If you are part of a membership organisation then it is likely that they will already be working hard to update their documents and resources. So wait a while and see what they update and distribute but when updated resources do start to be published take time to understand what the changes are and how these affect your governors, trustees and clerks.
If you are not part of a membership organisation and would like some help to work through how your board can implement the new guidance then do get in touch and we can work out a way together as to how to achieve this. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07841612208.
Click here to read the updated Governance Handbook
Click here to read the Competency Framework for Governance