Good governance is essential to every organisation, regardless
of sector, size or complexity. Those responsible for the strategic
direction of an organisation and accountable for delivering its
aims play a pivotal role in ensuring it has proper governance
arrangements. Sound decision making, accurate records, compliance,
transparency and accountability are key board activities. Good
governance should be viewed as a business enabler; providing
structure, clarity and evidence that these key activities are
happening effectively. It should not be seen as adding bureaucracy
to the way an organisation is run.
Governance is, however, not always an easy concept to
understand. In large multi-academy trusts (MATs), it can relate to
the relationships between the academy board, local governing bodies
or advisory councils, the senior leadership team, staff, parents
and pupils and other stakeholders, or any combination of these,
demonstrating accountability and how the charitable objects and
educational goals are delivered. Depending on the size of the MAT,
its development stage and complexity, good governance can therefore
mean something different in each organisation, and the detail can
Good governance depends on having:
Clarity of purpose – establishing a clear vision as to
the purpose of the organisation and how its aims will be
Effective procedures – putting in place and regularly
reviewing, appropriate, relevant and proportionate policies and
procedures to ensure decisions are made legally, ethically and in
the best interests of the organisation
Recruiting the right people for the right role – talent
management starts with the board ensuring they attract and retain
the right mix of skills, experience, competencies and diversity
around the boardroom table to make the best decisions, and
cascading that approach to staff appointments.
As with any type of organisation, the basics of the governance
framework will be derived from legislation and regulation,
supplemented by the constitution or other governing documents, any
standing orders, bye-laws, policies and procedures.
For MAT boards to perform their duties effectively, they will
need to understand the full extent of their powers and their
limitations, derived from and circumscribed by these sources. In
addition, they need to be aware of where those legal duties may not
mesh together and understand which statutory duty takes
Good governance and effective boards require planning, support,
review and development. As the organisation changes and faces new
opportunities and challenges, the governance framework needs to be
reviewed to ensure it is still fit for purpose. So it is of utmost
importance that the board, and those supporting board members,
remain up-to-date not just with the environment in which the
organisation operates, but with new developments in governance
thinking and practical aspects of developing arrangements that are
proportionate and effective.
ICSA: The Governance Institute is hosting a conference for
academies considering becoming MATs, looking at building good
governance and recruiting an effective board. With experienced
speakers from academies and infrastructure bodies supporting the
sector, delegates will gain an informed insight into how to help
their board stay on top of their game with new thinking in
improving MAT governance. Visit the
conference page for further information.
For those that cannot attend, ICSA has produced two new guidance
notes for MAT boards: Building good governance; and MAT board
effectiveness free to
download here. With a wide range of guidance available, there
is no excuse for not developing your governance arrangements and
helping your board to be better than ever.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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