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| 1 minute read

DfE making lighter reading for schools when it comes to governance – two new governance guides launched

So it’s big news but not big news. 

Instead of maintained schools and academies having to sift through a joint Governance Handbook which is only partly relevant for each, the handbook has been re-birthed as two separate governance guides, one specifically for maintained schools - Maintained schools governance guide, and one just for academies - Academy trust governance guide.

As expected, the new non-statutory guides, published on 7 March, have been written in consultation with the National Governance Association which is keen to reassure the sector that little has changed in practice. Changing the format and making things a little more streamlined has been the order of the day rather than making substantive changes which would have caused additional work for busy schools and academy trusts. 

For academy trusts the new guidance will feel fairly different, although much of its content is already in place. The new academy guide is linked to the Academy Trust Handbook 2023 ( (which is staying put) and also to the trust quality descriptions from the Commissioning high-quality trusts published last year.  

The five pillars of quality for Academy Trusts remain:

  1. High-quality and inclusive education
  2. School improvement
  3. Workforce
  4. Finance and operations
  5. Governance and leadership

Statutory policies

The statutory policies which maintained schools and academies must have are now helpfully separately listed in each respective guide.

The following guides have been withdrawn by the DfE

  • Governance Handbook
  • Governance Structures and Roles 
  • Clerking Competency Framework
  • Statutory Policies for Schools and Academy Trusts
  • Competency Framework for Governance


The message seems to be that there is nothing new that governors and trustees will need to do, except save the link to the relevant guide and put old copies of the above documents into the recycling.

For any further information, please contact Esther Campsall.


governance, schools, education