The trustees of an academy trust are fully responsible for the governance of an academy.
Governance cover 3 key areas:
- Strategic Direction;
- Holding the head teacher accountable for educational performance;
- Overseeing the financial performance of the school;
The trustees are personally responsible to ensure that public money is spent for the purposes intended by Parliament and that the appropriate standards of conduct, behaviour and corporate governance are maintained when applying the funds under their control.
To demonstrate this, academy trusts have to include a Governance Statement in the Annual Report and Accounts of their academy. This statement must include reference to the effectiveness of the systems of internal control and confirmation by the trustees that the system of internal control was in place throughout the financial year.
The Governing Body
The board of trustees will be responsible for the running of a significant enterprise and it is important that its members have a full understanding of their legal responsibilities. The board has to ensure compliance with charity and company law and the academy trust’s funding agreement.
It is important that the board has the appropriate mix of skills and experience to discharge these responsibilities. It is good practice to ensure that each trustee is properly inducted and trained so that they are fully prepared for their role.
Specific functions are often allocated to individual trustees and it is important that this is fully documented and understood. There should also be clear reporting and monitoring processes for these roles.
The board will need to set out its vision and objectives clearly and communicate these to the school’s stakeholders. These need to set out what is to be achieved, why and how progress is going to be measured. Communication with stakeholders should be open and regular.
The board should also ensure that there are written policies in place covering the critical operational areas. These will be wide ranging and cover diverse areas such as health and safety, disaster recovery and complaints and grievance to mention just a few. APC can help the board develop policies in connection with the financial areas such as the internal financial procedures, financial reporting and accounting.
The board must be fully involved in setting and approving forward plans and financial budgets and targets. Trustees will require regular reports detailing the current financial position of the academy and its future sustainability. These reports are vital if the academy is going to be managed in accordance with the trustees’ obligations and their value cannot be understated. Again APC is able to support the board in designing the appropriate reporting mechanisms.
This is a critical area and the trustee board must set and understand the policies in place for managing the academy trust’s investments, reserves and borrowing, even where these tasks are delegated on a day-to-day basis to a subcommittee or to external parties, such as investment fund managers.
Good governance is quite simply making sure the correct procedures and controls are in place, and seen to be in place, to ensure the effective and efficient running of the school. This will ensure that risks and opportunities are properly understood and managed, leading to informed decisions being made for the benefit of the school and its’ stakeholders.
More detailed information can be found on the Department for Education website by following this link. www.education.gov.uk
As part of ApC's service to academies, and the wider education sector, we are also able to assist you with a full range of audit, assurance and accounting matters, including:
- Transition to academy status;
- Preparation of statutory accounts;
- Audit of the financial statements;
- Regulatory reports;
- Regulatory assurance;
- Financial accounting;
- independent controls and systems process assurance;