Principle 2: Leadership

The Academy Trust is led by an effective Board that provides strategic governance in line with the aims and values of the Academy Trust and engages effectively with its Members.


Strong and effective Academy Trust governance ensures the Academy Trust adopts a strategy that effectively and efficiently achieves its aims and charitable Objects. It also sets the culture for the Academy Trust, including its vision, values and desired culture.

Key outcomes

2.1 The Directors accept collective responsibility for ensuring that the Academy Trust has an ambitious vision with clear and relevant values and aims, a strategy for achieving them and appropriate progress reporting indicators. In the case of Voluntary Academies, the Board meets its legal duty to uphold the charitable Objects to account for the relationship with the Academy’s Foundation.

2.2 The Board leads by example and requires anyone representing the Academy Trust to reflect its values positively. The Academy Trust’s values are reflected in its work, with the ethos and culture of the Academy Trust underpinning the delivery of all activities

Guidance on implementation of Principle 2

2.3 Leading the Academy Trust

a. The Board and individual Directors take collective responsibility for decisions.

b. The Chair provides leadership to the Board including taking responsibility for ensuring it has agreed priorities, appropriate structures, processes and a productive culture and has Directors who are able to govern well and add value to the Academy Trust.

c. The Board ensures that there are proper arrangements for Executive Leadership Team appointments, supervision, support, appraisal, remuneration and, if necessary, dismissal.

d. Where the Accounting Officer is also a Director, the Chair will ensure the individual also undertakes regular reviews as a Director that are distinct from any review of their role as Accounting Officer.

e. The Board’s functions are formally recorded. There are role descriptions defining responsibilities for Directors (identifying any specific functions deriving from charity, company or education legislation) which clearly differentiate the roles of the Chair, other Director positions, e.g. committee chairs, link or lead Directors, and outline how these roles relate to working with staff.

f. The Board considers the rationale, benefits and risks of all arrangements the Academy Trust makes regarding leadership including when it establishes a specific grouping of Schools, e.g. several Schools under an executive headteacher and/or a single Local Committee overseeing a group of Schools.

g. The formal relationship between the Academy Trust, the grouping of the Schools and individual Schools is clearly recorded through the Scheme of Delegation and Terms of Reference. The Board reviews, at appropriate intervals, whether these arrangements continue to serve the Academy Trust’s charitable Objects.

2.4 Leading by example

a. The Board agrees the Academy Trust’s values, consistent with the Academy Trust’s charitable Objects, and makes sure that these values underpin all its decisions and the Academy Trust’s activities (see also Principle 1).

b. The Board recognises, respects and welcomes diverse, different and, at times, conflicting views as they are applied to the furtherance of the Academy Trust’s charitable Objects.

c. The Board gives oversight and direction to the Academy Trust, providing support and constructive challenge to its Executive Leadership Team.

d. The Board, through its relationship with the Executive Leadership Team, creates the conditions in which the Academy Trust’s staff are confident and enabled to provide the information, advice and feedback the Board requires.

2.5 Commitment

a. All Directors give sufficient time to the Academy Trust to carry out their responsibilities effectively. This includes completing training, preparing for meetings, sitting on Board committees and other bodies and making Academy Trust visits as required. The expected time commitment is made clear to prospective Directors before appointment and again on acceptance of the position.

b. Where individual Directors are also employees and therefore involved in operational activities, they are clear about the capacity in which they are acting at any given time and understand what they are and are not authorised to do and to whom they report.

2.6 Members

a. The Board is accountable to the Members. The Academy Trust ensures a clear separation of the activities of the Board and those of Members thereby avoiding the risk of anyone being considered to be a Shadow Director.

b. The Directors can demonstrate an understanding of the respective roles of Directors[1] and Members. The Directors report to Members annually on how they are achieving the Academy Trust’s charitable Objects and make Members aware of key developments and risks when necessary.

[1] In academies with a religious character this includes a duty to preserve and develop the religious character of the School.