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When is a governor not a governor?

February 9, 2015

When DfE guidance and legislation use the term ‘governing body’ they mean the body with legal responsibility for governing the school or academy. But this can leave room for confusion!

For a locally maintained (local authority run) school, it is straightforward enough –  ‘governing body’ means the school’s Governing Body and ‘governors’ means those people that everyone involved is used to calling ‘governors’.

But it is no longer as simple as that.

When talking about an academy, legislation and guidance use the terms ‘governors’, ‘directors’ and ‘trustees’ interchangeably, and the term ‘governor’ may not mean what most of us have become used to it meaning.

Fir an academy trust, that operates under ‘company’ rules, the ‘governing body’ of the trust (the company) is better described as the Board of Directors and the ‘governors’ as Directors. (This is actually the terminology used in the DfE’s latest model Articles of Association for academies.)

In a single academy trust, the board of directors and the governing body of the academy is the same thing; the members of the governing body are the legal ‘governors’ and Directors of the academy. So using the words interchangeably is not really a problem.

But in a multi academy trust the distinction does matter.

In a multi academy trust, the ‘governing body’ is the single board of directors of the Trust.

A multi academy trust may continue to call its local governing bodies ‘governing bodies’ and their members ‘governors’; but they are not directors –  they are not the ‘governors’ of the trust and a local governing body is not the ‘governing body’ referred to in guidance and legislation.

The exact roles and responsibilities of a local governing body and its members, and how the formal responsibilities apply to Directors and governors, will depend on the scheme of delegation of the Trust.



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