The Board of Education is committed to helping schools to continually strengthen their effectiveness and distinctiveness as Church of England Schools and academies. Governors, trustees, headteachers and school leadership teams play a central role in securing high standards and in ensuring that every young person within a school can enjoy ‘life in all its fullness’.
Whilst the governing bodies role is largely strategic, a strong, well-led governing body, supportive of the school, its staff and its vision makes an important contribution to the school’s well-being and effectiveness. Working closely with governors, trustees and senior colleagues, it is the headteacher’s job to create a shared vision and plan for the school that inspires pupils, staff and the whole school community to give and achieve their best. Headteachers and principals are both the spiritual and academic leaders of their schools or academies.
The Governance of Church of England Schools
Church Schools were established in a tradition of Christian commitment to education to serve local communities or parishes.
All maintained, local authority led church schools are governed under Instruments of Government, operating since 1 September 2003, which contain “an ethos statement” adopted by the governors to encapsulate the religious character of the school and its purpose. It represents a modern interpretation of the school’s original Trust Deed, the legal document which founded the school.
Academies and academy trusts are governed under Articles of Association and a Funding Agreement. These documents set out how the trust or academy must operate and the arrangements for governance.
Foundation Governors and Trustees
Maintained Church of England Schools and academies are required to have a prescribed number of Foundation Governors or Trustees appointed to their governing board. The number of Foundation Governors or Trustees required will depend on whether the school or academy is or was previously a voluntary aided or voluntary controlled school.
Foundation Governors and Trustees are expected to bring to the governing body an informed regard for the Christian character and foundation of the school, to ensure that this is preserved and developed, and that the religious worship reflects the tradition of the Church of England.
The Parochial Church Council (PCC) will recommend people who it regards as being able to bring a Christian perspective to the life of the school to the Diocesan Board of Education, for appointment as Foundation Governors or Trustees. Nominated people will also have the skills to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school.
The law gives some powers and duties specifically to headteachers, and others to governing bodies. In a well-managed school, the headteacher and governing body will work in a close and balanced partnership.
Governors and Trustees have a general responsibility for the effective strategic oversight and of the school financial probity and efficiency and outcomes for all pupils. Governors and trustees act within frameworks set by national legislation with guidance from the DfE, ESFA (academies), Diocese LA (maintained schools). Governors and trustees are not expected to take detailed decisions about the day-to-day running of the school or trust – that is the role of the headteacher or CEO, whose appointment is one of the most important decisions with which the governing body will be concerned – academy trusts should refer to the scheme of delegation to determine where responsibility for headteacher or CEO recruitment lies. A good headteacher or CEO will discuss all the main aspects of school or trust life and strategic priorities with the governors and trustees and expect them to offer challenge and accountability.
All governors and trustees have equal rights and responsibilities. They are not delegates and must act according to their judgement, in the best interests of the children in the school.
The responsibility of the governing body is collective. Governors and trustees do not have power to act individually unless instructed by the whole governing body. Governors and trustees work collectively with the headteacher or CEO and staff to carry out their responsibilities.
Academy Trust Members
Academy trusts have an additional layer of governance set out in the Articles of Association. Members are the founders of an academy trust and are responsible for safeguarding the governance of the academy trust. Members are responsible for ensuring that governance is effective and that Trustees act in line with their statutory responsibilities.
In Church of England academies, some Members will be appointed by the Diocesan Board of Education, and in some cases the Diocesan Board of Education will act as a corporate Member. Members in a Church of England academy are also responsible for ensuring that the religious character of the academy is preserved and developed.
We will then make contact with you to offer support and advice regarding your next steps, processes and protocols.
Also, please access the checklists for governors (schools with a religious character) for essential support for headteacher recruitment. You will also find links to the most up-to-date regulations and national advice here.
We look forward to hearing from you.
DBS Guidance for Governors
DBS Checks Mandatory for Governors
Following the publication of the School Governance (Constitution and Federations) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2016 it is mandatory for all governors at maintained schools to apply for an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check within 21 days of their election or appointment.