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Our Governance

Brook Learning Trust governance is a community of people working together to shape the life chances and experiences of young people across our academies. Governance of an education institution is a role requiring high levels of energy, a critical mind and a strong moral purpose. Our volunteer Trustees and Academy Councillors demonstrate a commitment to future generations of young people and the staff they work with.

Those in a position of authority within our governance structure operate with an understanding that:

  • The Brook Learning Trust Board holds ultimate accountability for the performance of the Trust as a whole
  • The Brook Learning Trust Board may delegate authority for some levels of decision making to other groups of people and individuals within the Trust according to the Scheme of Delegation
  • Positions at Board, committee, panel and council level will be filled by those with the necessary knowledge, experience and skillset whose values are aligned to those of the Trust as a whole and who are committed to self-development
  • All those elected or appointed to the Board, committees, panels or councils should fulfil their duties in accordance with the seven principles of public life (the Nolan principles); selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership
  • All those elected or appointed to the Board, committees, panels or councils should be mindful of their responsibilities under equality legislation, recognising and encouraging diversity and inclusion
  • There is a need for all those engaged in governance to strive for improvement and act with ambition and energy on behalf of the stakeholders of the Trust
  • The role of governance requires challenge to the status quo and a willingness to work as a critical friend to support and challenge leaders within the academies and across the Trust.

governance structure 

our members and trustees 

Brook Learning Trust's Members & Trustees are:  

Ms Jeanette Batten

Member & Trustee 

Ms Natalina Bertoli

Trustee

Mr Ian Daker

Member

Mr Huw Howell

Trustee

Mr Martin Garner

Member & Trustee

Mr Philip Gomm

Trustee

Mr Myles McIntosh

Trustee

Mr Bruce Walsh

Member

annual general meeting
 

Authority

The Members are responsible for holding the Trust Board to account for the effective governance of the Trust.

The Trustees’ core functions as School Governors are:

  • 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 effective and efficient performance management of staff; and
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.
Duties

Memorandum and Articles of Association

  1. Agree proposed amendments to the Articles of Association.

Governance

  1. To appoint Members
  2. To remove Members
  3. To appoint Trustees
  4. To remove Trustees
  5. To appoint independent auditors
  6. To remove independent auditors.

Education

  1. Ensure the educational advancement for the public benefit
  2. Ensure pupils are making expected progress and reaching the required levels of attainment.

Financial oversight

  1. Ensure the Trust is spending public money wisely
  2. Receive the Annual Accounts and Report.

Strategy

  1. To receive the annual business plan
  2. To receive the three-year strategy.

Membership

  • Signatories to the Memorandum (Members); and Chair of the Trustees

  •  Trustees, BLT's Chief Executive Officer and Finance Director are in attendance.

the trust board 

Authority

All powers are retained by the Trust Board except those items which the Trust Board has delegated (see Scheme of Delegation).

The Trustees (Directors) are responsible for the operation of the Trust. They set strategic direction and are directly accountable for finance and standards. The Trustees have duties as Directors under company law, duties as Trustees under charity law and duties as School Governors.

The Trustees’ core functions as School Governors are:

  • 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 effective and efficient performance management of staff; and
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

The Trustees as School Governors have specific legal duties set out in statute, regulations and in their Articles of Association and Funding Agreements:

  • Constitution and procedures
  • Education and school performance
  • The wellbeing of pupils, including safeguarding, school safety and security
  • Appointment and annual appraisal of the Principal’s/Head of School’s performance,                           pre-employment checks and teacher appraisal, grievance, discipline and capability processes.
  • Organisational changes to the school and the use of school premises
  • School finance
  • Information sharing.

As Charitable Trustees (under Charity Law) duties are:

  • Duty of Compliance: ensure that the charity’s resources are used for the charitable purpose and that the charity complies with the law and its governing document i.e. the Articles of Association
  • Duty of Prudence: take reasonable care – in practice, this simply means ensuring that the Academies Trust is managed efficiently and effectively. It also means considering the need for professional advice on matters where there may be material risk to the charity.
  • Duty of Care: act responsibly, making sure that the Academies Trust’s assets are protected and used for the benefit of the charity. Make sure that the Academies Trust is solvent and keeps appropriate financial records.
Duties:

Strategy

  1. Develop and implement an overall strategy for the development of the Trust
  2. Approve the admission of new academies to the Trust
  3. Approve the entering into any funding agreement
  4. Approve the entering into leases or other legal arrangements
  5. Approve each school’s performance agreement on an annual basis.

Governance

  1. Approve Terms of Reference for committees of the Trust Board (Finance & Pay and Audit & Risk, Committees, Standards Panel and Academy Councils)
  2. Approve recruitment procedures for the Academy Councils
  3. Authorise the appointment of the Chairs of the Academy Councils
  4. Appoint and remove the Clerk to the Trust Board
  5. Approve/amend the Scheme of Delegation
  6. Approve the acquisition of legal entities
  7. Enter into or withdraw from formal partnerships
  8. Maintenance of risk management process
  9. Approve BLT core policies.

Education/Curriculum

  1. Approve and monitor BLT and school targets for achievement and attendance
  2. Approve and monitor BLT and school targets for quality of teaching and learning
  3. Approve and monitor BLT and school targets for pupil wellbeing
  4. Approve and monitor and adapt new/updated educational policy
  5. Approve admission policies.

Finance

  1. Approval and completion of annual accounts and reports to funding and regulatory bodies
  2. Assurance over adequacy of systems of internal financial control
  3. Approve financial regulations
  4. Approve and appoint internal auditors
  5. Approve annual budget
  6. Receive, review and approve management accounts
  7. Approve BLT budget and school contributions
  8. Approve any borrowing of money
  9. Open bank accounts and approve signatories.

Human Resources

  1. Approve annual staffing budgets
  2. Approve job evaluation policy and procedures
  3. Approve and agree/vary basic employment letters and conditions
  4. Recruit and appoint CEO
  5. Recruit and appoint Finance Director
  6. Recruit and appoint executive team members and Heads
  7. Approve annual pay policy
  8. Sign off annual pay progression
  9. Approval of use of discretions re: pensions
  10. Approval of BLT employment policies
  11. Objective setting and performance review of CEO
  12. Approve any restructuring plans
  13. Approve any severance and redundancy payments
  14. Authorise any settlement agreements
  15. Suspend/dismiss the CEO.

Health and Safety

  1. Approve Health and Safety policy
  2. Ensure adequacy of Health and Safety practice throughout BLT 
  3. Ensure fire risk assessments in place
  4. Ensure asbestos risk assessment in place
  5. Maintain any action plans in relation to site safety.

Safeguarding

  1. Ensure suitable safeguarding policy and associated procedures are in place
  2. Monitor effectiveness of safeguarding policy
  3. Receive annual report on effectiveness of BLT safeguarding policy and procedures.

Membership

  • Minimum of three and up to 15 Trustees; and Chief Executive Officer

  • BLT’s Finance Director is in attendance.

FINANCE COMMITTEE 

Authority

The Finance committee has delegated authority from the Trust Board as defined in the Scheme of Delegation.

Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent is the core concern of the committee of the Board with a finance function. All academies are bound by the Academies Financial Handbook (AFH) which sets out duties in relation to governance and financial oversight, alongside a structure of delegated authorities, the committees’ terms of reference and schemes of delegation are predicated on this guidance. In addition, the committees operate within the guidance of the Charity Commission.

The CEO is the Accounting Officer for BLT and the Finance Director is the Chief Finance Officer in accordance with the stipulations of the Master Funding Agreement held by BLT. Each of the academies has a supplemental funding agreement.

Duties

  1. Review the annual budget for each academy and recommend to the Board of Trustees for approval
  2. Review forecast against annual budget at the five meetings of the Finance Committee, and to ensure that appropriate action is taken to contain expenditure within the budget
  3. Review and approve any budget virements 
  4. Ensure that a three-year budget forecast is maintained and reviewed on a regular (at least annual) basis
  5. Authorise purchases or lease arrangements over the limit recorded in the Scheme of Delegation
  6. Approve investments outside normal banking arrangements
  7. Approve the writing off of bad debts over the limit recorded in the Scheme of Delegation
  8. Approve the disposal of assets with a net book value over the limit recorded in the Scheme of Delegation
  9. Report relevant and significant financial issues to the Board of Directors on a regular basis
  10. Approve staffing restructure proposals prior to consultation where they have a solely or predominantly financial imperative
  11. Review relevant policies on a regular basis.

Membership

  • Three Trustees and BLT’s CEO

  • BLT’s Finance Director is in attendance.

AUDIT & RISK COMMITTEE 

Authority

The Audit and Risk committee has delegated authority from the Trust Board as defined in the Scheme of Delegation.

Under the regulations set out in the Academies Financial Handbook, a Multi-Academy Trust is not expected to have a dedicated Audit Committee, however it is accepted as best practice. At BLT it is known as the Audit and Risk Committee.

Duties

  1. Appoint the external auditors
  2. Review the findings of the external auditors and respond to any recommendations raised in the management letter
  3. Agree a programme of work with an appropriate external body to independently assess and report on the Trust’s internal financial controls and compliance with the Accounting Officer’s statement on governance, regularity, propriety and compliance as published in the Annual Report
  4. Review reports from the Academy Councils in relation to Health and Safety and Safeguarding
  5. Review the BLT Risk Register
  6. Review the Data Protection Officer’s Compliance Report
  7. Ensure the Trust has appropriate insurance cover in place
  8. Report relevant and significant issues to the Board of Trustees
  9. Review relevant policies on a regular basis.

Membership

  • Three Trustees, BLT’s CEO

  • BLT's Finance Director is in attendance.

pay committee 

Authority

The Pay committee has delegated authority from the Trust Board as defined in the Scheme of Delegation.

Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent is the core concern of the committee of the Board with a finance function. All academies are bound by the Academies Financial Handbook (AFH) which sets out duties in relation to governance and financial oversight, alongside a structure of delegated authorities, the committees’ terms of reference and schemes of delegation are predicated on this guidance. In addition, the committees operate within the guidance of the Charity Commission.

Duties

  1. Achieve the aims of the Trust Pay Policy in a fair and equitable manner
  2. Observe all statutory and contractual obligations of the Trust relating to pay
  3. Apply the criteria set by the Trust Pay Policy in making decisions concerning performance-based pay progression following the annual salary review cycle
  4. Ensure that Trust budgets take account of local and national remuneration criteria and expectations
  5. Minute clearly the reasons for all decisions and report these decisions to the next meeting of the Trust Board
  6. Decisions made by the Trust Pay Committee will be communicated to each member of staff in writing by the Principal (academy staff) or the Chief Executive Officer (Trust staff) in accordance with the Trust Pay Policy
  7. Approve payments that fall within the available budget for pay, agreed by the Trust, and to refer back to the Trust via the Trust Finance Committee in the event that payments could exceed the allocated budget for pay
  8. Work with the relevant member/s of the Trust Executive Team and/or Principal/s to ensure compliance with the Trust’s Continuous Professional Growth Policy and Appraising Support Staff Performance Policy
  9. Act with integrity, objectivity and honesty in the best interests of the Trust and each of its academies
  10. Act in compliance with relevant statute.        

Membership

  • The Chair of the Trust Board and two Trustees 

  • BLT's CEO and Finance Director are in attendance.

standards panel
 

Authority

The Standard Panel has delegated authority from the Trust Board as defined in the Scheme of Delegation.

The Standards Panels exist to hold the leadership of each academy to account for the performance of the young people it serves. They are populated by individuals with a clear understanding of the education landscape and who are highly competent in the analysis of the different forms of data which are used to assess the academic and pastoral performance of an academy. The Standards Panel also retains oversight over both the Academy Self-Evaluation and Improvement Plan, monitoring the progress of the academy in fulfilling their key priorities and meeting their key performance indicators.

Membership of the Standards Panel is comprised of those operating at Trust Board, Executive and Academy Council level to ensure there is transparency around the academy performance at all levels of governance. The timing of the four meetings is set to coincide with the analysis of the summer examinations and revisions to the Improvement Plan with the first scheduled for the September. The second meeting takes place in January and enables discussion relating to completed progress checks and mock examinations. The third meeting in April and fourth in June also enable the analysis of performance data as well as an opportunity to initiate and revise strategic planning for the following academic year.

Duties

  1. Scrutinise a range of academy data including, but not limited to, pupil learning and progress; pupil applications, admissions, attendance and exclusions; staff deployment, absence, recruitment, retention, morale and performance; and the quality of teaching
  2. Hold academy leaders to account for improving pupil and staff performance by asking the right questions and ensuring academy leaders have credible plans for monitoring progress and addressing underperformance
  3. Establish how each academy will raise standards for all children, including the most and least able, those with special educational needs, those receiving free school meals and those who are more broadly disadvantaged, and hold the academy to account for doing so
  4. Ensure each academy has the right staff and the right development and reward arrangements and is able to appropriately hold staff to account when their capability or actions has a detrimental impact on student progress and attainment, or the wider culture of the academy
  5. Monitor that teachers and support staff are being deployed as effectively and efficiently as possible and in line with evidence and guidance
  6. Monitor the educational impact and value for money of professional development opportunities
  7. Approve and monitor the implementation of an academy improvement plan which, based on robust and realistic self-evaluation, sets appropriate priorities, creating accountability and identifying clear performance indicators to enable monitoring of the academy’s progress in realising their ambition
  8. Approve and monitor any improvement plans following Ofsted and DfE inspections
  9. Monitor the breadth, balance and effectiveness of the curriculum
  10. Examine the impact of the academy’s procedures for monitoring compliance with policies and procedures particularly teaching and learning, marking and feedback and behaviour management
  11. Maintain oversight of the impact of pupil premium and other targeted funding streams
  12. Maintain oversight of pupil attendance and exclusion.

Membership

  • Three Trustees, the Chairs of the Academy Councils, BLT’s CEO and Education Director
  • Principals/Heads of School of each academy are in attendance.

academy councils 

Authority

The Academy Council has delegated authority from the Trust Board as defined in the Scheme of Delegation.

The Academy Council is the foundation stone of the system of governance operating across Brook Learning Trust and has replaced the Local Governing Body. All three academies in the Trust have Academy Councils and councillors’ advocacy and monitoring roles are replicated across each.  There is a need for all those engaged in governance to strive for improvement and act with ambition and energy on behalf of the stakeholders of the Trust.  The role of governance requires challenge to the status quo and a willingness to work as a critical friend to support and challenge leaders within the academies and across the Trust.

Duties

  1. Seek to understand how the academy is led and managed: the academy principal will report on how the academy is fulfilling the Trust and the academy’s ethos, vision and strategy through the implementation of the AIP
  2. Receive reports about attendance, fixed term and permanent exclusions and review the effectiveness of provision to support pupils vulnerable to exclusion; to be part of a panel to review decisions around permanent exclusion where necessary
  3. Be the consultative body for the academy’s stakeholders with a focus on the areas covered in the AIP
  4. Represent the academy’s stakeholders forging connections with the community and acting as an ambassador for the school through the use of advocacy roles and councillor links
  5. Be engaged in academy recruitment processes, in particular for senior academy leaders and Principal appointments
  6. Undertake reviews of safeguarding procedures in accordance with the Trust Safeguarding Policy
  7. Undertake reviews of the effectiveness of the pupil premium spend in accordance with the academy’s pupil premium expenditure programme
  8. Ensure that the Health and Safety Policy is correctly implemented and compliant with the report from the external assessor
  9. Ensure that the academy has processes and procedures in place to secure the health, safety and wellbeing of staff, students and visitors
  10. Ensure that statutory training requirements are met
  11. Review, amend and approve local academy policies and procedures, and to monitor compliance with these and Trust wide policies
  12. Review and approve educational visits
  13. Approve staffing restructure proposals prior to consultation where they have a non-financial imperative
  14. Undertake relevant training as provided by the Trust and required by the Chair of Academy Council.

 Membership

  • A maximum of 8 Academy Councillors. Additional members could be welcomed as associate Councillors.

Brook Learning Trust is always looking to develop the depth and range of skills on our Board of Trustees and within our Academy Councils.  For further details of how to become part of Brook Learning Trust's governance, please click here.

There are clear systems of accountability that have made sure that the local governing body and the multi-academy trust are successful in both challenging and supporting leaders to oversee significant improvements.

Ofsted 2016