Need-to-know: Collecting and publishing board diversity data
The DfE has issued guidance about collecting and publishing board diversity data, but you don't need to act on it yet. Here's what you need to know about the update.
26 April 2023 update - The DfE has amended the guidance for maintained schools to match the academies guidance. Both now say "Information should be widely accessible to members of the school community and the public". This now makes it clear that the guidance is non-statutory, but we're awaiting further clarity on the points outlined below before updating our articles.
The Department for Education (DfE) has updated its guidance on what maintained schools and academies, free schools and colleges must or should publish online, with information about collecting and publishing board diversity data.
You don't need to act straight away – it's best to wait for more information
This is because the DfE’s expectations aren't clear yet, and there could be legal risks around collecting and sharing personal data if you proceed without that information. We're asking the DfE to clarify this guidance (see what we've asked below).
As the DfE has given no deadline for acting on this, it's fine to hold off until it clears up those points.
What we know so far
- The DfE encourages maintained schools and academy trust boards to collect and publish diversity data about the board and any local committees
- Information 'must' (for maintained schools) or 'should' (for academies, free schools and colleges) be widely accessible to members of the school community and the public (we're clarifying the wording of this with the DfE – see below)
- Board members can opt out of sharing their information at any time, including after publication
- Schools and trusts must make sure that individuals can't be identified through the publication of the data, particularly when board member levels are low
What we're seeking clarity on
We've asked the DfE to clarify the following:
- Whether it's a statutory requirement to collect and publish diversity data about the board and any local committees
- Whether the difference in wording in the guidance for maintained schools ('Information must be widely accessible') and for academies ('Information should be widely accessible') means that there are different expectations for different school types
- Whether the statement that board members can opt out of 'sharing' their data means they can choose for it not to be published – including in maintained schools, where the guidance says that board diversity data ‘must’ be widely accessible to the school community and the public
- How best to make sure that individuals can't be identified through the publication of the data, especially in cases where the board is very small
- Which diversity data schools/trusts should gather (for example: ethnicity, gender, level of education, age, etc.)
Once we've received a response from the DfE, we'll update our articles to reflect the changes.
Whatever the outcome, you'll be able to get anonymised diversity information from GovernorHub
We're launching diversity data collection within GovernorHub in the next few weeks, which means governors will be able to enter diversity data on their GovernorHub profile.
Board admins will then be able to download an anonymised report for schools or trusts to publish.
We’ll let you know as soon as this is available and we'll make sure it aligns with the DfE's expectations.
Stay up to date
Select 'Save for later' at the top of the articles below to be notified when we've updated them with further information from the DfE:
- School website: publishing information about the governing board
- Website publishing requirements and your role