Local governing bodies: how to stay effective and engaged with your trust

Understand the role of your local governing body (LGB) so you can be effective in your trust. Chairs, be clear on how to work with your trust to stay engaged and help your governors feel valued.

Updated
on 20 May 2024
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 39212
Contents
  1. Work within your trust's scheme of delegation
  2. Recognise the value of your LGB
  3. LGB chairs: keep a regular dialogue with your trust

Work within your trust's scheme of delegation

Your local governing body (LGB) will be most effective when everyone fully understands the board's role, including what has and hasn’t been delegated to you.

Focusing only on what you've been given responsibility will allow you to add the most value to governance in your trust. This is because you aren't expending efforts on on things that are already being taken care of by someone else, freeing you up to concentrate on the areas where you're best placed to contribute. After all, your delegated responsibilities have been given to your board because you've got the local knowledge and relationships to fulfil them. 

Clarify your role and responsibilities, and how they work in practice

Make sure everyone on your LGB understands:

  • What's in the scheme
  • What responsibilities they have
  • What the trust expect them to do and how often
  • How lines of accountability will work in practice

Don’t just accept a print out of a ‘decision-matrix’ – instead, ask your trust to give your LGB absolute clarity on what it needs to from you.

For example, if the decision-matrix states that LGBs will be ‘consulted’ when appointing a headteacher, ask for clarity on whether this means you’re part of the appointment panel or only consulted on the advert.

Make sure your LGB is clear on exactly what it means to be ‘responsible’ or ‘consulted’ for different areas in the scheme of delegation.

If you’ve just joined an academy trust, or your scheme of delegation has changed, request that someone from the trust central team attends your LGB meeting to go through the scheme of delegation.

Make sure new local governors understand what’s expected

This will help them make an effective contribution early on. 

Set your new local governors up with our induction course specifically for governors on LGBs.

This will allow them to learn at a time and pace that suits them, and will help them get acquainted with everything they need to know about governing on an LGB.

Recognise the value of your LGB

Remember, your LGB is valuable no matter the level of delegated responsibility it has.

Remember:

  • Your LGB is your trustees’ eyes and ears at a local level. You’ll always have a unique local perspective, which can’t be found elsewhere
  • Your LGB has strengths the board of trustees doesn’t have
    • For example, your LGB may not have delegated financial power, but it may be stronger in supporting school improvement and engaging with the community 
  • People rarely choose a school based on the trust – typically, it’s the reputation of the individual school that draws parents in. Your local decisions and responsibilities matter

LGB chairs: keep a regular dialogue with your trust

Keep your trust updated on your LGB's work

Ask if you can observe trustee meetings

Attend any trust forums/away days

Sources

Phil Preston is an education consultant and experienced practitioner in new schools provision, school organisation and development planning, capital strategy and asset management, and governor development. He has been head of service in the education departments of three local authorities, and a national programme and project gateway reviewer.

Brendan Hollyer is the chair of governors at 2 primary academies. He's also a trustee at another MAT which covers all phases of primary and secondary education. He's a former national leader of governance (NLG) and is a founding member of Independent Governor Services (IGovS). Formerly, Brendan worked as the director of conversions and governance for a multi-academy trust.

Julia Skinner is a former headteacher and national leader of governance. She has chaired in a MAT, a federation of special schools and numerous maintained schools.

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