The purpose of governance is to provide confident, strategic leadership and to create robust accountability, oversight and assurance for educational and financial performance.

All boards, no matter what type of schools or how many schools they govern, have three core functions:

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

Governance Handbook
DFE, March 2019


The Learners First professional development programme provides a range of opportunities for governors, members and trustees to develop their knowledge and skills and to discuss and share practice, aligned to the three core functions as set out by the DFE in the Governance Handbook. Details of the programme for the academic year 2019/20 will be published over the summer and will include areas outlined below.

Governance Curriculum

Governance Curriculum

CPD opportunities for those who hold Governance roles within Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) at either a Board Level (Members, Directors and Trustees) or at an individual School/Academy Level (Governors of Local Governing Bodies, LGBs).

“The department’s vision is to see robust and effective governance in every school and trust. As the first line of accountability, the department recognises that high quality effective and ethical governance is key to success in our school system and for the future of children and young people.”
Lord Agnew

With over 1,200 Multi Academy Trusts (MATs) across the country and increasing numbers of children and young people being educated within a MAT structure, MATs are a significant part of the educational landscape. However, it is a critical time for MATs and the stakes are high. Many of the initial approaches, structures and models no longer meet current sector challenges nor do they satisfy reformed accountability measures. Furthermore, as well as having to ensure legal and financial compliance whilst maintaining a healthy balance between academic performance and external growth pressures, many MATs are simultaneously entering into their first wave of CEO recruitment, appointment and induction. For a range of reasons, many are also at a point where it is appropriate to review their Schemes of Delegation as they consider the relationship and connectivity between the MAT Board and Local Governing Bodies (LGBs) in more detail. As a result, we are entering a new phase of MAT governance and leadership which requires a revised approach to professional development and necessitates a reformed offer.

The Learners First MAT Governance Curriculum offer has therefore been developed by a group of experienced professionals from a range of backgrounds with a wealth of pertinent knowledge, skills and expertise in the field. As well as colleagues with experience of working for and advising the DfE the team has included experienced School Leaders, MAT Directors and Members, Chairs of Trust Boards, National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) and Chairs of Governors. In addition, it has been a privilege to work with a Regional Advisor from Academy Ambassadors who has helped further refine and quality assure the provision. The curriculum has been designed for those who have strategic governance roles on Multi Academy Trust (MAT) Boards and MAT central teams and those on the LGBs of schools operating within MAT organisations. Further details are outlined in the course information flyer.


For any participants from schools or academies subscribing to Learners First these costs will be met in full.
Alternatively, the cost of the MAT Governance Curriculum is:

  • £60 per participant per individual session
  • £250 per participant for the full curriculum (all 5 sessions)
  • £400 per MAT (unlimited number of delegates at all sessions)

All sessions have been designed for those who currently hold positions on MAT Trust Boards as well as for those who hold governance roles on the Local Governing Bodies (LGB) of schools/academies within MATs. Ideally, representatives from both layers of governance within the same Trust will access the Curriculum simultaneously.

Applications and bookings can be made by emailing:

Full programme details and information about the date, time and venue of each session are in the course information flyer.

Governor Curriculum - Session 2

Governance Curriculum

Session 2: ‘Teaching & Curriculum Excellence: ‘The Business of Education’’

(Event postponed owing to Coronavirus – new date to be arranged)

With a keynote address and case studies from Kath Kelly, CEO Lionheart Trust (a high performing cross-phase MAT with schools in Leicestershire and Leicester) and Paul Makin, Chair of Harmony Trust, Chair of two Local IEBs and former CEO.

18th March 2020 (Event postponed owing to Coronavirus)
Aston Hall Hotel
Worksop Road, Aston, Sheffield. S26 2EE
5.30pm – 7.30pm
(Arrival & Registration from 5.00pm)

The new Learners First MAT Governance Curriculum has been developed by a team of experienced professionals from a range of backgrounds including the DfE, school and MAT leadership and those with IEB, local and MAT Board governance experience. It has been further refined, quality assured and professionally supported by an experienced Regional Advisor from Academy Ambassadors. The Curriculum is made up of five interconnected sessions through which Learners First will endeavour to replicate some of the approaches, themes and vocabulary used in the DfE accredited National Professional Qualifications (NPQs). A key aspect of all sessions within the Curriculum is to recognise the increasingly high demands on volunteer trustee/governor time and each session is intended to leave participants with some practical ideas as to how to better deliver their obligations in a sensible time effective manner.

Building upon the first session with John Edwards (RSC for East Midlands and the Humber) this session will consider what those involved in governance need to understand in relation to the MAT’s work in assessing and improving teaching and curriculum quality, pupil progress and attainment in a range of different contexts, including for disadvantaged pupils and those with particular needs. Through this we hope to support delegates to develop a deeper understanding of how the provision in a MAT wide curriculum can help with recruitment and retention, reducing teacher workload and deploy school-to-school support systems effectively in order to improve teaching and curriculum quality. Through case studies, keynote addresses and facilitated discussions, the following key questions will be explored during the session:

  • How do you currently know that the curriculum at your school(s) is fit for purpose?
  • How can Directors and LGBs know the school(s) is/are doing well in this critical area?
  • How do you currently know that teaching and learning in your school(s) is of high quality or not?


For any participants from schools/academies subscribing to Learners First the cost of this session (and all other sessions in the curriculum) will be met in full. For non-subscribers, the cost is £60 per participant per session (or £250 per participant for the full 5 sessions, or £400 per MAT for an unlimited number of delegates at all sessions).

This session is designed for those who have strategic governance roles on MAT Boards, MAT CEOs and Chairs of Governors from LGBs of schools operating within MAT organisations.

Applications and bookings can be made by emailing:

Full programme details and information about the date, time and venue of each session are in the course information flyer.