As per the DfE Academies Financial Handbook, Trustees have three core functions in the governance of the Academy:
- 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
- overseeing and ensuring effective financial performance
Trustees are those who sit on the board of a charitable trust such as The Bridge Academy, and in the academy context are also directors. In the Memorandum & Articles of Association of The Bridge Academy, “Trustees” are defined as ‘directors of the Trust howsoever appointed or elected (and “Trustee” has a corresponding meaning)’. The Bridge Academy is a charitable academy trust with trustees, the trustees are also directors of the company comprising the trust, and are also Trustees for the purposes of the school’s Board of Trustees.
There are essentially five categories of Trustee at The Bridge Academy:
1) Sponsor Trustee – these are Trustees (up to nine) appointed by the Sponsor.
2) Member appointed Trustee – these are Trustees (up to two) appointed by the Members
3) Co-opted Trustee - up to five Trustees appointed by the Trustees (who are not themselves Co-opted Trustees)
4) Parent Trustee (two) must be the parent of a registered student at the Academy and are elected by the parent body. When a vacancy occurs, an election must be held and nominations invited - if only one candidate applies, they are considered elected. When a Parent Trustee’s term of office comes to an end, the Board of Trustees cannot just reappoint them. The vacancy must be advertised, and an election held. Parent Trustees do not represent parents, but instead, are representative of parents.
5) The Principal may be elected as a Trustee by the Members
The Board of Trustees Appointments Committee regularly reviews the range of skills and experience of Trustees in order to identify any potential gaps. Trustees usually serve on the Board of Trustees for a period of four years. It is not unusual for Trustees to be reappointed when their period of office matures and in exceptional circumstances, where their skill set is considered imperative to the effective functioning of the Board of Trustees, reappointed for a third term of four years. When an elected Trustee’s term of office comes to an end, the vacancy must be advertised, and an election held. All vacancies are considered by the Appointments Committee which will recommend potential candidates to the Board of Trustees.
There is also a Members Committee which is comprised of two Trustees and three independent persons, whose role is essentially to oversee the governance of the Academy, including scrutiny of the annual accounts and the appointment of auditors.