Although the changes affect everyone from teachers to pupils to parents, the governing body is expected to take a very new role in an academy, and governors are often those that need the most help in managing this change.
School governors come from a diverse background in the state school system and usually include representatives from the local council, parents, the teaching staff and the head teacher. This diverse mix gives a solid grounding for the school in the maintained sector and ensures that all concerns are met.
There are however certain additional skills that an academy school governing body needs for the effective running of a new academy school.
A changing role
Because the legal structure of the school changes from being under local education authority control, to an independent charitable company, it is necessary for the governors not only to have the necessary knowledge and skills to discharge their continuing function as school governors but they also need to have the knowledge and skills to discharge their additional functions as directors of a company and trustees of a charity.
The makeup of the governing body
As an academy school faces new challenges, the governing body needs to have the additional necessary skill set to meet these challenges. They need to oversee the management of the finances to ensure that the new academy school can carry out its day to day and long term operations. They also need to be able to provide effective support to the principal/head teacher and the management team in order to give the school the best opportunity to flourish.
It is the governors that are responsible for the running of the school, who will ideally include at least one governor who has-
- Some financial expertise
- Some legal knowledge
- Experience of running a business
- Links to fundraising activity
All of these elements are going to be vital in running the new academy school.
The governing body of a new academy school will take on the combined roles of charity trustees, company directors and a school governors, so they will need a lot of support in understanding and carrying out their responsibilities.
The additional duties under charity law in particular mean that the governors are responsible for the academy trust operating solvently in accordance with the provisions of the Charities Act.
Independence increases responsibility
As the legal structure of the school changes, so does the the responsibility of the governors. To avoid potential liability arising from this new role it is important that the governors seek legal advice in order to ensure that they are aware of their enhanced responsibilities.
Endeavour’s support for your school
Members of our Education Team have helped many schools go through the process of converting to an academy and we are happy to share our knowledge and expertise with your governors so that the understand what is required of them.