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New Governance Handbook March 2019

The Department for Education released an updated version of its Governance Handbook on 22 March 2019. This handbook is a guidance document (not statutory) for governors and school leaders in maintained schools, academies and multi-academy trusts.

The new sections in the handbook are:

Parental Engagement (section 2.4 pages 16 – 17): it says that boards should use information from parental engagement to inform their strategic decision making. Moreover, your board should be able to evidence how you have used these views to influence your decisions. Boards need to be able to demonstrate that their school has mechanisms in place for engaging parents. Finally, you should show how you have fed back to parents and carers about this.

Reducing teacher workload (section 3.1 points 8, 9 page 19): a sub-section has been included to emphasise the governing body’s role in improving processes to cut unnecessary workload for school staff. It provides reference to the Department for Education’s Workload Reduction Toolkit and the myths around the requirements of Ofsted inspection.

Robust Oversight (section 3.2 page 19): there is a new section added pointing out that boards must meet a minimum of three times a year. The Board of Trustees for larger trusts are expected to meet at least six times a year unless they have a good, documented reason not to.

Section 128 checks (section 4.1.2 point 15-19 page 31): the new guidance recommends that all maintained schools carry out checks in relation to section 128 directions. Academy governors are already subject to this check via the regulations in the financial handbook. These checks can be carried out by logging into the Teacher Services Webpage with your school’s log in details.

Professional role of clerks/governance professionals (section 4.4 page 38): the new handbook stresses the importance of having a professional clerk to the governing body and recommends that governing bodies look at the Clerking Competency Framework to further understand what the role of the clerk/governance professional is.

Further updates have been made but these are points of clarification or corrections on terminology. A full summary of the changes can be found on pages 6 – 8 of the new handbook, which you can find here

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