The Academy Trust Governance Code uses the definitions below:

Term in the CodeDefinition
AcademyAcademy means a School, or 16-19 institution, which has converted to Academy status, or has been opened as a Free School, and is operated by an Academy Trust under a Funding Agreement.
Academy TrustThe Academy Trust means the legal entity (a charitable html company limited by guarantee) operating an Academy or group of Academies.
Academy TrusteesAcademy Trustees means those individuals serving on an Academy Trust Board both as Directors and charity trustees. An Academy company is also an Exempt Charity and hence does not have to register with the Charity Commission. The company directors are therefore also charity trustees (see definition of “Director” below). However, in Voluntary Schools (including those with a religious character) the term Trustee is reserved for those holding the historic educational endowment on which the School is founded (also referred to as the School’s Foundation). Therefore, to avoid confusion, for the purposes of the Code, individuals on the Academy Trust Board are referred to as Directors.
Academy Trust HandbookThe Academy Trust Handbook is published annually by the DfE and sets out the financial, management and governance requirements for Academy Trusts.
Accounting OfficerThe Accounting Officer is the person formally designated by the Academy Trust to hold specific responsibilities related to the financial matters of the Trust. The Accounting Officer has a personal responsibility to Parliament and to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) for the Academy Trust’s financial resources.
Articles of AssociationThe Articles of Association is the constitutional document that stipulates the charitable purpose and the specific governance arrangements and legal requirements of the Academy Trust.
BoardThe Board means the accountable body for the Academy Trust which is the Board of Directors.
ChairChair refers to the person who is elected by the Directors to chair the Trust Board.
DirectorDirector refers to a person who serves on the Academy Trust Board, having been elected or appointed in accordance with the Academy Trust’s Articles of Association.
DiversityDiversity is about recognising, respecting and valuing people’s differences, and enabling them to contribute and realise their full potential within an inclusive culture. Among items to be considered in this context are gender, ethnicity, social and cultural background and characteristics.
Education and Skills Funding Agency(ESFA)The Education and Skills Funding Agency is a government executive agency sponsored by the Department for Education. It is the agency accountable for funding education, apprenticeships and training for children, young people and adults.
EqualityEnsuring every individual has equal opportunities. The act of being conscious of and actively challenging bias or prejudice to ensure no-one is treated less favourably because of who they are or what makes them different from other people. This requires a proactive approach to make reasonable adjustments that address the visible and invisible barriers people face.
Executive Leaders/Executive Leadership TeamExecutive Leaders/Executive Leadership Team should be taken to mean those held to account by the Board for the performance of the Academy Trust.
Exempt CharityAn Exempt Charity does not have to register with the Charity Commission. The principal regulator of exempt Academy Trusts is the Secretary of State for Education. Exempt charities still need Charity Commission’s approval for some transactions e.g. amending their charitable Objects and authorising payments to charily trustees for their services as a charity trustee.
FoundationFoundation means the charity which founded and is providing for a Voluntary School or Academy, and to whom those conducting that School or Academy are accountable. An Academy’s Foundation generally has the power to appoint Directors and/or those who sit on the relevant Local Committee(s). Academies which are not Voluntary Academies do not have a Foundation.
Funding AgreementThe Funding Agreement refers to the agreement between the Academy Trust and the Secretary of State for operating an Academy, including funding arrangements, obligations and termination provisions. In the case of a Multi-Academy Trust, this term refers to the Master Funding Agreement and all Supplementary Funding Agreements.
Governance ProfessionalThe Governance Professional is the person in the Academy Trust who is designated to assess all aspects of governance effectiveness and compliance within the Trust and advise the Academy Trust so that the Academy Trust meets its statutory and regulatory requirements. They also provide the strategic leadership of the services that support governance across the Trust, including coordinating training for those engaged in governance.
InclusionBeing proactive to make sure people of different backgrounds, experiences and identities feel welcomed, respected and fully able to participate. It is not only about creating a diverse environment but also about ensuring a culture exists where individuals can be their full selves.
Local CommitteeLocal Committee means a committee of a Trust Board with multiple Academies that is established as such under the Academy Trust’s Articles of Association, to carry out the functions specified in the Trust’s Scheme of Delegation for a particular School. This also covers local governance where the Local Committee has responsibilities for more than one School.
MembersMembers refers to those who are the founder Members (signatories to the Memorandum) and/or subsequent Members of the Academy Trust. Members in a company limited by guarantee (i.e. all Academy Trusts) have a similar role to shareholders in a company limited by shares.
ObjectsThe Objects identify anddescribe the charitable purpose(s) for which the charity (i.e. the Academy Trust) has been set up to pursue.
PupilPupil refers to any young personbeing educated in a School, or nursery, including those in secondary and post-sixteen education where the term “student” is a common alternative term.
Scheme of DelegationThe Academy Trust’s Scheme of Delegation is the document that sets out where the accountabilities and responsibilities sit within the Academy Trust.
SchoolSchool refers to a designated educational establishment for the education of young people, which includes education for pupils and students of compulsory School age (i.e. primary and/or secondary education).
Terms of ReferenceTerms of Reference (ToRs) define the purpose, delegated powers (if any) and governance procedure of a committee, meeting, or project group who are working together to achieve specific goals.
TrusteesTrustees means the body of persons (whether incorporated or not) holding the legal title of land on behalf of a charity which is providing a Voluntary School or Academy, and to whom those conducting the School or Academy are accountable. They are not the same as charity trustees of an Academy Trust. Academies which are not Voluntary Academies do not have Trustees. To avoid confusion, for the purposes of the Code, the trustees of a Voluntary Academy are generally referred to as that Academy’s Foundation.
Voluntary AcademyA Voluntary Academy is an Academy that has been founded by a charity (the Academy’s Trustees, or Foundation) and usually remain represented in the governance of the Academy. Most of these Foundations are churches, some are other religious bodies, and a small number are non-religious charities. Approximately one-third of all Academies are Voluntary.

Differences between Voluntary and other Academies (The Dual System)

The categories of maintained Schools and the kinds of voluntary and foundation Schools and types of foundation are given in sections 20 and 21 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998.  

There are Voluntary maintained and special Schools, Academies and sixth-form colleges, that together make up around one-third of the education sector. Voluntary Schools have Trustees (their Foundation), and other state-funded Schools do not. These Trustees are not the Academy Trustees/Directors but the Trustees of the Foundation.

It is to differentiate these two distinct types of Trustee, that Trusts with a Church Foundation call their Academy Trustees, Directors. All Voluntary Schools therefore have an additional line of accountability through their Trustees and there is a fundamental difference in the governance of Voluntary and other Schools.

To avoid confusion and as all Academy Trust Trustees, independent of the status of the Trust, are also company directors, in the Governance Code Academy Trust Trustees are referred to as Directors.

The implication for Academy Trust Governance is that those Academy Trusts that have Voluntary Schools will have Schools that have an additional accountability though the Foundation’s Trustees. In Church Schools, this accountability will include having inspections under Section 48 of the Education Act 2005.