Grasvenor Avenue Infant School belongs to a multi-academy trust (MAT) and are currently the sole members of this organisation. The Academy Trust is a company and as such, must have a Memorandum of Understanding and Articles of Association by which it operates.
There are three Members who ‘own’ the MAT. They are comparable to shareholders within a commercial entity and have overall responsibility for the MAT, ensuring that the company directors (Trustees) follow the constitution and perform its functions in accordance with its charitable objectives.
The Academy Trust is responsible for governance through its Board of Trustees which meets at least once a term. The Board consists of two Members (one of whom is the Chair of the MAT), the Executive Headteacher (as an ex-officio trustee) and a number of other individuals, including some with an educational background and some with a historical background within the Grasvenor community. Trustees can be appointed by the Members or by other Trustees, in line with the Articles of Association.
Trustees within the Grasvenor Avenue MAT are primarily involved in the strategy, ethos and direction of the MAT but must comply with the following duties as trustees of a charity:
Compliance – they must ensure that the charity’s resources are used for the charitable purpose and that the charity complies with the law and its governing document i.e. the articles of association.
· Care – they should take reasonable care in their work. In practice, it simply means ensuring that the academy trust is managed efficiently and effectively. It also means considering the need for professional advice on matters where there may be material risk to the charity.
· Prudence – they must act responsibly, making sure that the academy trust’s assets are protected and used for the benefit of the charity. The trustees must make sure that the academy trust is solvent and keeps appropriate financial records.
On September 1st 2018, the Academy Trust decided to re-structure in line with other multi-academy trusts, expanding the Board of Trustees and introducing a Local Advisory Board to replace the previous Governing Body. This re-structure supports our need to focus on strategy and we want to demonstrate our capability to operate with a multi-academy structure. This model of governance is operating on a trial basis, initially for one year. As this is a trial, our Articles of Association have not yet been amended to reflect the new structure, but we are functioning in line with the DfE’s model articles.
Although Trustees retain responsibility for all governance, they have delegated certain areas to two key committees: the Local Advisory Board and the Finance and Business Committee.
The Local Advisory Board (similar to a governing body in a non-Academy school) consists of two parent representatives, a staff representative, the Head of School and several representatives from the community. The primary function of the Local Advisory Board (LAB) is to hold the school leadership to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils.
They achieve this by placing an emphasis on empowering LAB Representatives to support and challenge the school within a specific area through individual portfolios. The portfolios are intended to encourage LAB Representatives to develop their ability to hold the school to account and give the opportunity for a more hands on approach and detailed reviews. LAB Representatives make visits into school, build relationships with staff and meet termly as a board to discuss findings and report back to the Board of Trustees.
The Finance and Business Committee is responsible for the overall budget distribution but not the fine detail of how school funds are spent. This committee meets termly and informs the Trustees as to the financial performance of the school, making sure its money is well spent.
Everyone involved in governance works in close partnership with our Executive Headteacher, Head of School, staff and the Local Authority. We maintain a positive relationship with the school leaders which is based on trust, openness and transparency, combined with positive challenges. Whilst the School Leadership is responsible for the day to day running of the school, strong governance ensures the school functions well and maintains the proper range of academic and social objectives.
All members of the MAT perform their duties as volunteers but involvement can be highly rewarding and satisfying, with the opportunity to influence the direction our school is taking, as well as the benefits of both personal and professional development.