How academy governance works

Learn how academies are governed, including the difference between members and trustees, and find out what key documents you need to be familiar with.

Last reviewed on 11 August 2023See updates
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  1. Legal status of an academy trust
  2. How governance is structured
  3. Key documents explained
  4. Who oversees academy trusts?
  5. If you want to convert to an academy

The information in this article is based on the Department for Education's (DfE's) model articles of association and funding agreements – for single academies and multi-academy trusts (MATs). If you're an academy, check your own articles of association and funding agreement as they may differ from the models.

Legal status of an academy trust

An academy trust:

  • Is a charitable company limited by guarantee
  • Must comply with company and charity law
  • Is an independent legal entity
  • Is the admission authority, meaning it sets and manages its own admissions process
  • Is the 'employer' of staff, meaning it's legally responsible for things like health and safety 

See pages 55, 56, 73 and paragraph 268 of the Governance Handbook.

How governance is structured

All academy trusts are made up of at least 2 layers of governance: 

  • Members
  • Trustees (also known as directors)

MATs often have a third layer: