Latest DfE governance updates – Friday 9 October 2020

This week I report on the publication of the DfE’s latest governance update, the updated Governance Handbook and new role descriptors.

Latest DfE Governance update
The October edition of the governance update from the DfE provides information on the following:

  • The updated Governance Handbook and new role descriptors (further details provided below).
  • Guidance for governing bodies that choose to hold face to face meetings to ensure they comply with the rule of 6, social distancing, any local health and safety measures and the school or trust’s risk assessment. 
  • Guidance for schools on cyber security due to the increasing number of cyber-attacks involving ransomware infection affecting the education sector.
  • Publication of NFER research on school and trust governance with conclusions drawn about the governance system as a whole, as well as about specific types of governing bodies, and the report suggests areas where support and guidance for the sector could be improved.
  • Publication of National Leaders of Governance reform recommendations.
  • Information on the funded governance leadership training and development programmes that are now available virtually.

Updated Governance Handbook and new Role Descriptors
Yesterday the latest edition of the Governance Handbook was published to reflect policy and legislation changes from the past year and to clarify language where appropriate. Board diversity, professional clerking and executive leaders’ understanding of effective governance feature among the updates.

For those new to governance the Handbook defines the roles, functions and legal duties of governing bodies in maintained schools, academies and multi academy trusts. It’s described as setting out “the government’s vision and priorities for effective school and trust governance” and acts as a signpost for governance resources including many from the NGA.

In addition to the Handbook, the DfE has also produced new ‘governance role descriptors’ for maintained schools and academies which describe high-level school and trust governance structures and the responsibilities of each role.

They are an introduction to the governance system across the education sector and can be used in inductions for new volunteers.  The descriptors also include links to further support and guidance that governors may find helpful.