The second core function: holding executive leaders to account

Find out who your executive leaders are, what it means to hold them to account, and how to do it in practice.

Last reviewed on 21 October 2022
School types: AllSchool phases: AllRef: 36931
  1. Overview
  2. Who are the 'executive leaders'?
  3. What does it mean to 'hold them to account'?
  4. What does this look like in real life?


The governing board is responsible for holding executive leaders to account for the:

  • Educational performance of the organisation and its pupils
  • The effective and efficient performance management of staff

This is laid out on page 13 of the Governance Handbook. Read on to understand what it means in practice.

Who are the 'executive leaders'?

These are the people who are held to account by the board for the performance of the organisation (page 7 of the Governance Handbook). The handbook also identifies executive leaders as the people who are responsible for the internal organisation, management and control of schools (page 23). 

Depending on whether you're an academy or maintained school and what your leadership structure looks like, the executive leaders might include:

  • CEO
  • Executive headteacher
  • Headteacher
  • Principal
  • Other senior staff as set out by your school or trust

To hold leaders to account, you need to make sure they can explain