Governor Training Key Takeaways: Summer Briefing 

In this blog, we share the key takeaways from our summer briefing for school governors and trustees. Read ahead to find out what you might have missed.
conference delegates chatting
Share Post:

Our termly Governor Briefings offer an opportunity for governors and trustees to explore the latest developments in governance, best practice, and policy information from the Department for Education (DfE).  

Read ahead to discover the key takeaways from our summer briefing.  

DfE Governance Guidance

On 7 March 2024, the Governance Handbook was replaced by two new governance guides – one for maintained schools, the other for academy trusts. The new guides contain some small changes, however these are primarily meant to provide clarity and re-emphasise key elements of previous guidance and best practice. These changes are summarised below: 

Maintained Schools 

  • British Values: The school culture must demonstrate that it is actively promoting the fundamental British values of democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance for those with different faiths and beliefs.  
  • Headteacher Reports: The governing body must assure itself that the headteacher reports to it as required.  
  • Cybersecurity: Governors should be aware of the significant damage that cyber attacks can cause to their schools. At least one governor should complete cybersecurity training.  
  • School Visits: Visits should be pre-arranged for an identified purpose linked with the governing body’s responsibilities, such as safeguarding, school development, and monitoring policy and implementation.  
  • Co-Headteacher Votes: Co-headteachers have one vote on the governing board.  
  • Governance Professional/Clerk: The governing body must listen to the independent advice that the governance professional provides and have due regard to that advice when exercising its functions.  
  • Staff Wellbeing: An increased emphasis on staff wellbeing means that governors must consider how to manage the work-life balance of all staff.  
  • Pupil Wellbeing: Pupil wellbeing is to be included as a focus area when setting the school’s vision.  
  • Chair’s Action: The chair can act in circumstances where they think a delay would likely be seriously detrimental to the interests of the school, any pupil at the school or their parent/carer, a person who works at the school.  
  • Estates Management: No new requirements, but other guidance relating to estate management is consolidated and summarised.  
  • Statutory Policies: The guidance contains a list of 20 statutory policies, which governing bodies of maintained schools are accountable for.  

Academy Trusts

  • Purpose of the Trust Board: The three core functions have been replaced with the purpose of the Trust board, in line with the Academy Trust Handbook: strategic leadership, accountability and assurance, strategic engagement.  
  • Diocesan Academisation Strategy: Strategy statements should refer to the relevant diocesan academisation strategy in the context of future Trust growth plans.  
  • British Values: The trust’s culture must demonstrate that it’s actively promoting the fundamental British values.  
  • Cybersecurity: The board should understand the significant damage that a cyber attack can cause to their trust. At least one trustee should complete cybersecurity training.  
  • Local Authority Associated People (LAAP): No more than 19.9% of members can be LAAP, but only elected members continue to count towards the threshold for 4 years after leaving office.  
  • Staff Wellbeing: As the employer, the trust has a legal duty to protect its workers from stress, and the board is expected to consider the wellbeing and work-life balance of all staff.  
  • Governance Professional: The term clerk has been removed from the academy guidance and replaced with governance professional. Due regard must be given to the advice and guidance that the governance professional provides.  
  • Statutory Policies: The guidance contains a list of 17 statutory policies, which the boards of academy trusts are accountable for.  


The government has launched an open call for evidence to take the views of schools, colleges, and other professionals on safeguarding practice development and direction, in advance of Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) 2025. They are seeking views on a number of topics, including artificial intelligence, filtering and monitoring, and children bringing their own devices into schools. 

Governors and trustees who wish to take part can share their views here.  

The closing date is 20 June 2024.  

Attendance & Monitoring

The DfE has published updated guidance on Working Together to Improve School Attendance which is set to become mandatory from September 2024. There are a number of updated expectations for parents, schools, governing bodies, and local authorities. These responsibilities are summarised in tables, which can serve as useful tools for governors to identify strengths and areas for improvement within their setting.  

Notably, the table of responsibilities relating to monitoring has been expanded. The guidance now states that the governing board or academy trust will hold the headteacher or executive leadership to account for their delegated responsibilities and for compliance with regulatory and statutory requirements. They will review progress and provide challenge when required. The board will also help school leaders focus improvement efforts on the individual pupils or cohorts who need it most and ensure that school staff receive adequate training on attendance.  

Ofsted Updates

Response to Education Select Committee 

Ofsted has published a response to the Education Select Committee’s recommendations following the inquest into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry. This outlines a set of steps that the inspectorate has taken, or plans to take, to ensure that a tragedy such as this should never happens again: 

  • Training inspectors on how to deal with distress amongst school leaders during an inspection 
  • Implementing a clear escalation process for inspection concerns 
  • Establishing a policy to pause problematic inspections 
  • Convening an expert reference group with external voices 
  • Appointing an independent expert to conduct a learning review of Ofsted’s handling of Ruth Perry’s death.  

English Education Subject Report 

In March, Ofsted released its English education subject report. It concluded that overall the teaching of reading has improved markedly, however the curriculum for writing and spoken language is less effective. Additionally, it finds that schools are sometimes confused about the purpose of English and consider it as a vehicle to facilitate other subjects, rather than a subject in its own right. The report makes a number of recommendations, such as: 

  • Making sure the curriculum takes full account of the foundational knowledge and skills that pupils need in reading, writing, and spoken language in order to carry out more complex tasks. There should be high-quality opportunities to practise these key components in the planned curriculum.  
  • Ensuring that pupils who are in the early stages of learning how to write, or who are not fluent in transcription, practise transcription skills in isolation.  
  • Translating the national curriculum requirements for spoken language into practice so that pupils learn how to become competent speakers.  

Further information can be found here.  

Religious Education Subject Report 

In April, Ofsted published its religious education subject report. It concluded that the RE curriculum often lacks sufficient substance to prepare pupils to engage in a multi-religious and multi-secular society. In many cases, the curriculum was superficially broad and tried to cover many religions; however, pupils learned much more when the curriculum prioritised depth of study instead. The report makes the following recommendations:  

  • Balance the breadth and depth of study of religious and non-religious traditions to ensure that these are collectively enough for pupils to make sense of a complex world 
  • Be ambitious for pupils to develop all aspects of knowledge, including substantive, ways of knowing and personal knowledge. Make sure that teachers have high expectations of what pupils will know and remember 
  • Develop manageable assessment methods that move beyond the simple recall of factual information.  

Further information can be found here.  

Want to find out more? Our full training session is available to watch online here.  

Our full suite of online training is free for One Governor and training subscribers. Alternatively, you can pay for individual sessions for a more personalised learning experience.  

Explore our full Governor Training Programme 2023-24.  

Enquiry Form

Please complete the form below and we will get in contact as soon as we can to help you with your query.

In other news

Login to your account

Search our website

Request a brochure

Please fill in your details below to receive our free brochure.

Sign up to our Newsletter

Please fill in your details below to sign up to our newsletter.

Request a call back

Please fill in your details below to receive a call back from a member of our team.