Becoming a trustee
As a charitable company limited by guarantee, ELAN is governed by a board of trustees who have overall responsibility and ultimate decision-making authority for all the work of the trust, delegating some matters to the local governing body of each school through a scheme of delegation.
The trustees are accountable to the Department of Education (DfE) and focus on the three core functions of governance:
- ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
- holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff
- overseeing and ensuring effective financial performance.
We are a group of individuals with a diverse range of backgrounds, experience and expertise who dedicate our time to supporting the trust and improving pupils’ lives and life chances. We do so as we all feel it is worthwhile and that we can make a difference together. We believe that collectively we are adding value to the trust, our colleagues, our pupils and the communities that our schools support.
We are here to support and challenge the chief executive, central team and school heads, helping to set clear direction by approving and monitoring what they do and supporting the development of plans for the future. As directors of the trust we are legally accountable for providing effective and ethical governance. We often have to make tough decisions, and do so based on information provided to us by the trust’s leadership team and other agencies such as the Department for Education (DfE). We always act with careful consideration. We make judgements but try never to be judgemental.
What you need to know
Trusteeship is a voluntary, unpaid role for people who have the time, energy and skills to make a real contribution to shaping the future of our schools. The board collectively use their varying skills, strengths and expertise from all walks of life to enrich the governance of the trust.
Volunteering as a trustee is a valuable addition to both personal and professional life and is a challenging yet rewarding position.
We’ve answered some key questions below which will help you understand more about the role.
What does our trust and academy governance structure look like?
ELAN members fulfil the requirements of company law (receiving accounts, appointing further members, changing the memorandum and articles etc.). They are tasked with assessing whether the board of trustees is performing well and, as such, is ensuring that the purpose of the trust is being met and its charitable object fulfilled. Each member will bring knowledge and expertise in his or her specific areas of practice and will provide practical guidance where relevant. The members hold and attend an annual general meeting (AGM) once a year.
Board of Trustees
ELAN trustees have overall responsibility and ultimate decision-making authority for all the work of the trust. They oversee the educational standards, performance and finances of all the schools in the trust and ensure that the trust meets government guidelines on safeguarding, equality and diversity. It is up to the board of trustees to decide which matters to delegate to local governing bodies through the scheme of delegation.
Local Governing Bodies
Each school within the trust has a Local Governing Body (LGB) that discharges the responsibilities delegated to them by the MAT trust board. These include:
Maintaining an overview of the standards and educational performance of the school.
Providing support and challenge to the headteacher and Senior Leadership Team.
Securing a local interest in the school's strategic development.
Monitoring the financial performance of the school and ensuring that its money is spent well, and in accordance with the scheme of delegation.
The ELAN Scheme of Delegation details the delegation of responsibilities across the trust governance structure.
What do trustees do?
This is a strategic, not operational role; the board ensures that the trust does the right thing, in the right way, for our pupils, our staff and for our school communities.
The full board of trustees meets a minimum of six times a year. In addition there are two committees; Educational Standards and Performance, and Finance, General Purposes, Audit and Risk. Trustees serve on the committee most suited to their skills and areas of expertise, and committees meet three times a year.
Other ways Trustees get involved:
They may be asked to sit on a recruitment panel.
They have the opportunity to be a Link Trustee - taking a special interest on behalf of the Board in a specific area of responsibility such as safeguarding, SEND, HR, Finance, Curriculum, Health & Safety – or for one of our schools
Have the opportunity to attend school events.
Support with any complaints, grievance, or appeals panels that may arise.
What are the differences between governors and trustees?
Trustees are both company directors and charity trustees – academy trusts have the legal status of both company and charitable trust.
Trustees have more specific responsibilities than school governors, especially when it comes to finances.
Because trustees are directors under company and charity law, trustees have legal responsibilities that governors of maintained schools do not. With no local authority to answer to, if anything goes wrong, the academy or MAT is accountable.
Who can be a trustee?
To be eligible to volunteer, you need to be aged 18 or over and not disqualified under the relevant rules and procedures.
There are no specific qualifications or requirements to be a trustee. Just like governing boards, a board of trustees must be diverse and made up of people with different skillsets. Professional backgrounds in areas such as HR, law, finance, education, estate management and marketing are key skills needed on MAT trustee boards, but general management skills such as negotiation, problem solving, and leadership, are also great additions.
Trustees must be skilled, knowledgeable, and able to confidently support and challenge the leadership of a group of schools.
Trustees must also have the time to commit to the role, but in return, will gain high level strategic experience and insight into becoming a non-executive director.
“Academy boards must be ambitious for all children and young people and infused with a passion for education and a commitment to continuous school improvement that enables the best possible outcomes. Governance must be grounded in reality as defined by both high-quality objective data and a full understanding of the views and needs of pupils/students, staff, parents, carers and local communities. It should be driven by inquisitive, independent minds and through conversations focused on the key strategic issues which are conducted with humility, good judgement, resilience and determination.” Source: Governance Handbook, Department for Education (2017)
What are multi-academy trusts? (DfE Education Hub - October 2021)
Multi-academy trusts are charities that have responsibility for running a number of schools. They cannot, as charities, be run for financial profit and any surplus must be reinvested in the trust.
By working in partnership with each other, the schools within a trust can share staff, curriculum expertise and effective teaching practices, and work together to deliver the best outcomes for pupils.
While other types of school partnerships can be effective, the key difference with academy trusts is that there is shared accountability for standards across the trust; all schools within the trust support each other and the trust is accountable for them all.
I think I can bring something to ELAN. How do I express my interest?
We are actively looking for people with new ideas and a fresh perspective to join our board.
If you are interested in applying to be an ELAN trustee please send a short expression of interest to email@example.com Business and Governance Lead
Please note candidates should live within reasonable travelling distance of the trust so that they can attend meetings in person.
For more information, please call 01934 313390 and speak to Sarah.
Each new trustee will be required to provide two references and must complete an enhanced DBS check (without barred list, unless they will be engaging in regulated activity) prior to appointment. As part of this, a Section 128 check will be carried out.
A Section 128 check, checks the names of individuals who are barred from taking part in the management of any independent or maintained school. The list is maintained by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) under the terms of direction from the Secretary of State for Education. On 1st April 2018 NCTL was repurposed, with regulation of the teaching profession passed to the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA), and the other functions moved to the Department for Education (DfE).
People with a section 128 direction cannot:
Hold a management position in an academy, free school or independent school (as an employee)
Be an academy or free school trustee or member
Be a governor on any academy or free school board that has delegated responsibilities
Be a governor or member of the proprietor body of an independent school
Sit on the governing board of a maintained school.
As required by the DfE, each school will keep a Single Central Record to provide confirmation that relevant checks have been taken for:
all staff (including supply staff and trainee teachers) who work in the school
all members of the “proprietor body” e.g. relevant information for governors, trust board members, and central trust staff.