Governance in the DHMAT is effective. Its core purpose is to ensure that we make a real and positive difference to the life chances of every individual child attending each of our schools.
What are the structures of governance within the DHMAT?
Directors of the DHMAT delegate functions to a local level; that level of delegation is at the complete discretion of the Directors, and includes a continuum of delegation and support, ranging from Local Academy Boards (LABs) to Strategic Task Groups (STGs). LABs and STGs are vital to effective governance, and they and are made up of highly-skilled, well- informed and well-trained members, who ensure that statutory duties are met and that there is a clear focus on each school’s vision and standards. LABs and STGs are supported very effectively by the Trust’s Central Team.
The DHMAT Board of Directors sets the Trust’s direction, and holds the executive to account in terms of educational performance and financial probity. The DHMAT Board Members, appointed by the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE), have control over the Multi-Academy Trust, with the ability to appoint directors and the right to amend the Trust’s Articles of Association. The DHMAT is a charitable company, set up by The Diocese of Hereford Educational Trust (DHET), and complies with all company law.
The Bishop of Hereford, supported by the Bishop’s Council and Diocesan Board of Finance, is informed of progress and performance by the Diocesan Board of Education. This statutory body has responsibility for all maintained church schools and academies. The DHET is the corporate member on every Church of England single academy and multi-academy trust, providing a link between the DBE and the schools.
How does governance work at a school level?
The levels of authority are outlined within the Scheme of Delegated Authority (SODA), and may vary dependent upon the performance, financial or human resource position of the school, which are frequently evaluated. Meetings are still held, not dissimilar to how governing bodies meet, but the aim is to focus upon progress and educational standards, and less so on finance, for example. In most cases, we would still expect there to be parental representation on LABs.
Governance at my school works well. Does it have to change?
If governance is working well in a school, and leadership and management is ensuring that overall effectiveness is of a high quality, then the transition to a LAB would be very straightforward, indeed. In this case, the LAB would continue to discharge the improvement priorities of the school with a high degree of autonomy, as per the SODA. However, the Trust may well discuss the need for an STG should a school show sustained decline, or suffer significant and unexpected capacity issues, ensuring that increased officer and Headteacher support were available to move the school to a position of strength.
We need to develop governance at my school. How will you do this?
There is an experienced Governance Officer within the Central Team, who has an oversight of LAB/STG structures and performance at meetings. Alongside School Improvement Officers and the CEO, they will assess the support required, be mindful of the LAB Member Skills’ Audit, signpost training or even arrange bespoke sessions. There are termly Chairs’ and Clerks’ meetings, fortnightly briefings and access to Governor Hub and the National Governance Association.
How will you support governors with OFSTED and SIAMS?
There is a wealth of experience at all levels within the Trust, in terms of Ofsted and SIAMS. It is part of our mission to support everyone within our community in feeling fully prepared for inspections; we share experiences, strengths and weaknesses. Our experienced ELT, Headteacher Board and team of LAB members can, and will, support their colleagues. As part of DHMAT, each school is already enrolled in the Diocesan Partnership agreement, which means that they can call on expertise from the Diocesan Officers, free of charge.