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| 2 minutes read

Is this the end for the governing body? Life after the transfer into a MAT

You would be forgiven for thinking that once a school has transferred into a multi-academy trust (MAT), the members of the governing body can hang up their hats and take up crocheting. Well, the message is: YOUR SCHOOL STILL NEEDS YOU!

The academy trust governance guide, published on 7 March, sets out the possible functions of a local governing body (referred to in the new guide as ‘local committees’):

  • Connect boards and their local academies and communities.
  • Ensure board decisions are well-informed by the local context.
  • Share local information with the board.
  • Escalate issues to the board.
  • Provide meaningful engagement with parents and local communities.

In local governance here and now published last year, the National Governance Association (NGA) highlighted the importance of the local governing body (described in their report as the ‘local tier’) as forming ‘the bridge between the trust board and its schools’. The report, put together following interviews with local chairs, trustees and governance professionals from several MATs, highlighted the importance of the role of the local governing body in supporting and challenging the headteacher, executive leaders and trust board and ensuring scrutiny at a local level.

The NGA highlighted the importance of the local governing body’s role in:

  • standards – monitoring performance and improvement (this includes regularly reviewing the data including exam results, pupil progress and the like);
  • stakeholder engagement – making sure the needs and concerns of stakeholders (such as pupils, parents and staff) are taken into account in the decision-making process and effective communication channels are achieved;
  • safeguarding – including implementing the safeguarding policy and working with the designated safeguarding lead to ensure the proper procedures are in place; and
  • SEND – ensuring appropriate resources are in place for pupils with special educational needs.

It stands to reason that local governing bodies are the eyes on the ground when it comes to monitoring whether a school is sticking to its policies, meeting targets and pursuing the MAT’s vision and strategy. How these functions are put into practice is really a matter for the MAT and the local governing body to agree on. The MAT’s scheme of delegation and any terms of reference for the local governing body will be paramount in navigating this.  It is also clear that it is likely to be a moving picture; as more schools join a MAT different models might be needed. It won’t even necessarily be a one-size-fits-all for all of the schools within the same MAT.

What remains important is having a set of people who are committed to holding the school leadership to account. People who are willing to attend meetings, read all the papers, question the senior leaders, get to know the school and ensure vision, ethos and strategy are being adopted at a local level.

For more information on MAT governance, contact Esther Campsall.


academy trust, local governing body, school governors, education