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.
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.
All Voluntary Aided, Foundation and Academy schools are their own admissions authorities and must set, consult on and determine admissions arrangements. We recommend that this is done annually.
Government Admission Appeals – temporary new arrangements (24/04/20 – 31/01/21)
Please click on this link for the latest information about admissions appeals.
All admissions arrangements are subject to the Department for Education Admissions and School Appeals Codes and all governors should ensure they are familiar with these documents.
Key areas identified leading to admission policies being non-compliant
Please find information relating to this here: Key areas of non-compliant admission policies
IAPLAC priority – information for admission authorities
The new 2021 admissions code which requires the following change to the category of looked after children.
The 2021 School Admissions Code (the Code) requires children who appear (to the admission authority) to have been in state care outside of England and ceased to be in state care as a result of being adopted, to be given equal first priority in admission arrangements, alongside looked after children (LAC) and children who were previously looked after by English local authorities (PLAC). This advice refers to these children as internationally adopted previously looked after children. Please click here for further advice: IAPLAC priority – information for admission authorities
DBE Asset Management Plan
This document details the Diocese of Gloucester Board of Education’s (DBE) Asset Management Plan for all Voluntary Aided Church of England schools within the diocese. It includes the DBE’s vision for its schools and what support should be given to the Governing Bodies of its Voluntary Aided Schools in their duties in looking after the school site and buildings. The document also clarifies the way the Schools Condition Grant (SCA) is allocated ensuring that is complaint with the Department for Education’s (DfE) expectations of Dioceses.
Please find the link to the AMP. GDBE AMP – January 2021
DBE Health and Safety Checklist
This premises safety checklist has been designed to assist the governors and the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) when conducting Health and Safety monitoring. This checklist is not exhaustive and should be modified to fit individual circumstances as required. Alternative approaches to monitoring may be taken and the school and Governing body should determine the best solution given the amount of time and resource available. Such monitoring activities should be proportionate to the level of risk and therefore assurance over the effective control of significant risks such as fire; asbestos; Legionella etc. should be the priority.
Please find the link to the Health and Safety checklist. DBE HS checklist
DBE Premises Development Plan
This document can be used by schools to plan and programme prioritised projects over a rolling 3-5-year period. The Premises Development Plan should be shared with Governing Bodies on a regular basis to give early notification as to requirements for future capital work. For VA schools the PDP will need to be submitted with all SCA grant applications.
Please find the link to the Premises Development Plan GDBE Premises Development Plan template January 2021
Trustees and Diocese (GDBE) approval for repairs and alterations to school buildings
If your school or academy is planning building and refurbishment works, please be aware that trustees’ and diocese consent may be required and should be obtained in writing prior to the project commencing. The historic ongoing purpose of the Trust and GDBE is to support the running of a Church school/academy and usually the involvement of the trustees is of a light touch. However, Governors need to remember that the Trustees are the owners of their premises, and it is not just a legal requirement to obtain their consent but also a matter of respect and good manners.
Minor repairs or maintenance works to the premises do not justify the involvement of the Trustees or GDBE. Where extensions or alterations are taking place that would alter the character of the buildings due to scale, modifications or the introduction of different building materials the Trustees and GDBE should be consulted. Larger scale projects need to be brought to both group’s attention at an early stage, enabling Governors to consider the Trustees and GDBE’s views for inclusion within the design. It is not helpful to delay contact until the design is fully formulated with the expectation that agreement would automatically be given.
If Governors are unclear who acts as their Trustees the GDBE will be happy to assist. Also, the GDBE is happy to assist the Trustees in commenting on a proposed project as this responsibility may not be a regular occurrence.
The first point of contact for the GDBE (Gloucester Diocese Board of Education) in these matters is: