Guidance for Governors

 Governor Guidance is currently being reviewed to reflect the latest DBE policies and will be uploaded in the new year.

1. Introduction: The Role of Governors - The importance of governance (1.1) - The role of the Diocesan Board of Education (1.21.3) - Abbreviations used in the document (1.4) - Contact for comments on this document (1.5)
2. The Legal Position in Church of England schools. - The Trust Deed of the School (2.2 & 2.3) - Trustees (2.4) - Church of England Schools not “faith schools” (2.5)
3. Types of CE schools. - Voluntary Controlled Schools (3.2) - Voluntary Aided Schools (3.3) - Church of England Foundation Schools (3.4) - Academies (3.6)
4. The Instrument of Government (or the Articles of Association in an Academy) - Its definition of the purpose of the school as a church school  (4.1 & 4.2) - The make up of the governing body (4.3) - Foundation governors (4.4 - 4.6)  - Ex officio foundation governors (4.7 - 4.8) - CRB checks (4.9) - Changing the Instrument of Government (4.10)
5. The Clerk to the Governors. - A brief outline (5.1)
6. Charitable Status of Church Schools
7. Buildings and Finance.  - DBE approval for any capital work (7.2) - DBE Building Consultants Scheme (7.3) - Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) Funding (7.4) - Funding for Major Capital Work (7.5 - 7.6) - Funding of Capital Works in Academies (7.7)
8. School Teachers’ Houses.
9. School Admissions. 
10. The Governors as Employers. - Appointing staff (10.2) - DBE advice on appointments (10.3) - Formal Procedures (redundancy, disciplinary, competency etc)  (10.4)
11. Denominational Education. - Collective Worship (assemblies) (11.2) - Religious Education (RE) (11.3)  - Reserved Teachers (11.34)  - Church School Inspection and SIAS (11.4 -11.5)
12. Church and CE School links. - Church links (12.112.3)  - Diocesan and DBE support (12.4-12.5)  - The National Society (12.6)
13. School Organisation. - Converting to voluntary aided or academy status (13.2)  - Amalgamation (13.3)  - School closure (13.4)  - New schools (13.5)
14. Collaboration between schools
Appendices: - Appendix 1: List CE schools and their category, trustees and websites - Appendix 2:  Table outlining the distinctive responsibilities of governors in different types of CE schools - Appendix 3:  Sources of further help - and useful websites, links to all websites in appendix also available on  - Appendix 4:  Details of the e-training course available for CE school governors - Appendix 5: List of DBE Guidance Documents with dates for revision

1. The Role of Governors

1.1 Education is vital for promoting the full development of young people and for creating a healthy society. Schools are central to the life of local communities particularly in a county like Cumbria. Good governance of schools is therefore essential to ensure that they provide for our young people and promote strong communities. The governor’s work is challenging and sometimes thankless. However, when performed well it is essential for our communities and our young people to thrive.

1.2 The Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) exists to support and promote Church of England (CE) schools. This document is intended to guide governors of schools in the Diocese of Carlisle. We are aware of the pressures on governors and have endeavoured to keep the guidance brief and easy to access. It is not intended to provide all a governor needs to know but to complement advice from other agencies or more detailed information available on the diocesan website or from diocesan officers. This document will provide an introduction to the distinctive issues that arise in CE schools particularly for governors but also for staff, parents and church leaders. You should also complete the e-training for CE school governors. (For details of how to access this see appendix 4). Those who do not have access to the internet may access the e-training at the school.

1.3 We value the work that governors do - indeed we believe that in helping schools to help children and communities they are doing the work of God. Our aim is to help you in that service. The level and type of support available to schools and governors from the DBE is outlined in the School Partnership agreement on the DBE webpage, click here. Current training details are available on the Schools training webpage.

1.4 Abbreviations. Appendix 3 includes a list of sources of further help and useful websites  Throughout this document the word “must” indicates a legal obligation. Acronyms where used are explained at their first occurrence. Some acronyms used regularly are: • CE Church of England  • DBE Diocesan Board of Education •  DBF Diocesan Board of Finance •  DDE Diocesan Director of Education (Children and Young People) •  DfE Department for Education  • LA Local authority (i.e. Cumbria County Council)  •  VA Voluntary Aided School •  VC Voluntary Controlled School

1.5 We have tried to make this document clear, accurate and succinct and to identify sources of further information. We would be grateful if you would contact us to point out any lack of clarity or sufficient detail or with any other comments: 

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2. The Legal Position in CE schools

2.1 Schools with a Religious Foundation. People often talk about “church schools” and sometimes “faith schools” when including Jewish, Hindu or Muslim schools. For ease and clarity this document refers to Church of England (CE) Schools. However the proper terminology is “schools with a religious foundation”. (See section 11: Denominational Education)

2.2 The Trust Deed. CE schools are among the oldest in the county and existed before the state became involved in providing education. Your school will have been established formally with a Trust Deed that established its legal entity and which, technically, still determines its functions. Your school should have a copy of its Trust Deed. The requirements of the Trust Deed have been modified by a large number of Acts of Parliament which relate to schools. Nevertheless the Trust Deed remains important because it secures the ownership of the school and the purposes for which the school exists.

2.3 Location of Trust Deeds. The Diocesan Board of Education holds a register of the location and the terms of the deeds governing Church Schools. The Board’s officers may therefore be able to help if the deed is unknown to Trustees or Governors.

2.4 Ownership of the School and Buildings. The Trust Deed records a donation of land or buildings for use as a school. The original land and buildings of the school belongs to a trust. In most CE schools the trust was originally exercised by local people and this is still the case in some schools. Over time many local trusts have transferred their responsibilities to the Diocese, technically the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF). This better secures the long term future of the school and avoids administrative difficulties that sometimes arise. Appendix 1 lists the CE schools in the diocese, status and website.

2.5 The Christian Foundation. The Trust Deed includes a statement of the purpose for which the school was originally founded. In CE schools this will usually include a reference to a religious purpose for the school. This may be expressed in a very general way (eg “in accordance with the principles of the Church of England”). In this diocese most trust deeds say that the school was established to provide education (usually for the children of the poor or of artisans) in a particular parish. That is they are not faith schools. They were not founded to promote a faith but to provide an education in accordance with the values and ethos of the Church of England. This distinguishes CE schools from almost all other “faith” schools in the country. Sometimes the Trust Deed has been lost or contains no specific reference to the Church of England but the school has always been known and run as a CE school and therefore its CE status has been established over time.

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3. Types of CE schools  

3.1 Appendix 1 lists all CE schools in the diocese and their status. Over time a number of different types of church school have emerged.  Parents and others may not perceive much difference in the type of CE school their child goes to.  However, the differences affect the way the school is governed so it is important that the governors understand them.  To understand these differences and how they have arisen it is helpful to know a little of their history.  The first division arose from the 1944 Education Act which provided for 2 different kinds of CE school.

3.2 Voluntary Controlled (VC) CE Schools have a Christian foundation but are financed entirely by the government through the Local Authority (LA).  They are therefore “controlled” by the LA.  Nevertheless, certain areas of school life are conducted in accordance with the Christian foundation and will be different from most other LA schools (generally called community schools).  These distinctive CE areas include, for example, collective worship, admissions, inspection.  For fuller details see the table in appendix 2.  In recent years the LA has delegated many powers to the governors in VC schools, for example, the LA technically employs the staff but the governors of VC schools now appoint and manage them.  VC schools can change their status to become VA schools or academies if required.

3.3   Voluntary Aided (VA) CE Schools have a Christian foundation and receive funding from the government through the local authority but the governing body has more autonomy.  It is “aided” by but not controlled by the LA.  So VA schools are directly responsible for many aspects of school including the financial cost of repair and maintenance of (most of) the property, for the employment of all staff, for school admissions and for religious education.  The local church and community also have a responsibility to support the School in meeting the financial cost of these repairs and maintenance.  For further information on the responsibilities of VA schools see the table in appendix 2.  Although VA schools have more autonomy the LA nevertheless has an obligation to maintain these schools and most of the funding comes through the LA.  Likewise the LA (through the Corporate Director of Children’s Services) has certain mandatory rights in the school, for example to monitor standards and governance etc.  These LA obligations to the school and rights to advise the governing body apply whether or not the governors have opted into a support package from the LA. In VA schools statutorily, the foundation is in the majority on the governing body, that is, there must be more foundation governors than all the other governors put together.  This majority, by law, should be preserved on certain governor committees eg Performance management of the headteacher, headship appointment and disciplinary committees etc.

3.4 Foundation Schools. Please note: the word “foundation” in “foundation schools” has a different meaning from the “religious foundation” and the “foundation governors” used elsewhere in this document and in legal terminology. The 1989 Education Reform Act provided for “Grant Maintained” (GM) schools. These were schools funded directly from central government and were largely independent of the LA. Subsequently GM schools were abolished and the schools changed their status again. CE GM schools had two options: either to become VA schools or to become CE Foundation Schools. The latter option was usually taken by CE schools that had once been VC schools. There are only a small number of these in the diocese. Governors in these schools employ the staff and are responsible for setting the admission policy as in a VA school. However, funding arrangements and the numbers of foundation governors are similar to VC schools. For further information on the distinctive responsibilities of governors in CE foundation Schools see the table in appendix 2.

3.5 Maintained Schools. All the schools above are maintained schools.  That is the LA has a duty to maintain them.  Academies are not maintained by the LA.

3.6 Academies. 3.61 Academies are independent schools which are financed through a funding agreement with the Secretary of State.  The diocese is represented on the academy trust, usually with a majority of Members, depending on whether the school had previously been VC/VA or Foundation.  Usually the ‘as is’ principle applies, that is the relationship with the diocese and the responsibilities of the governors are preserved, as far as possible when the school converts to an academy.  In CE academies the land continues to be held by the pre-existing charitable trust (that is not by the Academy Trust).  The governors in an academy are accountable to the Academy Members and must report at least once a year.  They manage all aspects of school life including the employment of staff, admissions, the syllabus including RE etc.  They are effectively independent of the LA.  However, the Local Authority retains some limited responsibilities in Academies including the monitoring of standards, special needs and transport and academies may choose to buy in services from this or any other LA.

3.62 An Academy Trust has the following structure:- i) Members These are the equivalent to shareholders in a company limited by shares.  They are effectively the 'owners' of an Academy Trust.  In a CE Academy one or more of the members will be a diocesan body or an officer (eg the DDE or the Bishop of Carlisle) ii) Governors These are effectively the Directors of the company.  They are appointed and may be removed by the members.  They are accountable to the members and must report to them at least once a year. iii) The Chair of Governors is in effect The Chair of the Board of Directors. iv) The Head who is or equates to the Chief Executive of the company.

3.63 For further information on the responsibilities of academy governors see the table in Appendix 2.  For further information on CE Academy status, the process of conversion and the role of academy members see the DBE webpages: click here

3.64 There are two routes to becoming an academy.  Governors, following consultation, may elect to convert their school into an academy if certain criteria are met.  All the CE Academies in Carlisle Diocese to date have become academies in this way.  A CE Academy Trust is established which will have Foundation Members to whom the governors are accountable.

3.65 Before a CE school can convert to academy status the governors must have approval from the DBE, the trustees and the foundation governors.  Each of these parties is required by law to ensure that the CE status of the school is preserved or strengthened.  They do this by ensuring that provisions are written into the documents that establish the academy.  Legally, the governors need the approval of the DBE before they even begin to consider a change in status.

3.66 Other schools may, in future, be required by the Secretary of State for Education to convert to academy status. This may happen if standards in the school are deemed to be too low or following a critical Ofsted inspection. These Academies would be sponsored by an external body appointed by the Secretary of State. There are no CE academies of this type currently in this diocese. The DBE expectation is that the Secretary of State would agree that any such academies would be sponsored by the diocese.

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4. The Instrument of Government

4.1 The Education Act 2005 provided that each school should have an “Instrument of Government”.  This document establishes legal obligations for the governing body and for the Diocesan Board of Education.  The Clerk to the Governors is required to provide all foundation governors with a copy.  It can be revised if the changing circumstances of the school require it (see Paragraph 4.10).  It includes a re-statement of the school’s purpose.  In CE schools this will be one of the following: “Christian principles as understood by the Church of England” or “Education in accordance with the principles and practices of the Church of England.” This statement establishes legal obligations for the governing body and for the Diocesan Board of Education.  It affects all aspects of the school’s life including its relations with the government, the local authority, Ofsted etc.  This current document seeks to guide governors and others on what these obligations are. The governors with the consent of the DBE and the LA may revise the instrument of government and any of its measures.  In academies there is no instrument of government but the same purpose is carried out in the Articles of Association which establish the academy.  This may also be amended if necessary.

4.2 Promoting the Christian Ethos (Religious Foundation) of the School. All governors share a responsibility for the ethos of the school, though the foundation governors have specific legal duties.  Governors need to ensure that the values and vision that they set for the school are:  • based on Christian values and teaching  • shared with staff, children, parents and other stakeholder groups  • promoted by all governors and staff  • the basis for all school policies  • put into practice in the daily life of the school  • monitored and evaluated by the governors. The diocese is required to inspect the school regularly to ensure that the governors are carrying out these functions. See: Christian values for Schools website for further information.  

4.3 The Size of the Governing Body. The size of a governing body varies depending on the size of the school, local practice etc. The instrument of government determines the constitution of the governing body, that is, the number of governors and who appoints them. In academies the document which determines these issues is the Articles of Association which establishes the academy. The constitution of the governing body may be amended by redrafting the instrument of government (or The Articles of Association). This requires the approval of the DBE and other bodies. Please contact the appropriate officer for guidance. A list of officers and their main areas of responsibility is found on the DBE webpage: click here

4.4 Foundation Governors. All governors are responsible for promoting the purposes of the school set out in the instrument of government.  However, foundation governors have a specific legal obligation to promote the Christian character of the school and to ensure that nothing is done to weaken or undermine it.  For this reason foundation governors have special responsibilities e.g. there must always be at least one foundation governor on any committee dealing with the performance management of the headteacher (because aspects of the head’s performance should relate to the Christian character of the school).  In VA schools there must be a majority of foundation governors on this panel.  Likewise the foundation governors must be represented on appointment panels or panels that deal with disciplinary issues etc. Foundation governors should report back on a regular basis to their PCCs and ensure their schools are prayed for on a regular basis.  One of the governors may specifically take on this task.  They may also consider how the parish vision prioritises work with children and this should include links with the local school.

4.5 Appointment of Foundation Governors. The Instrument of Government sets out the mechanism for the appointment of foundation governors.  In almost all CE schools in Carlisle diocese the foundation governors are appointed by the DBE following a recommendation by the local Parochial Church Council (PCC) or in some schools by several PCCs.  The PCC should liaise with the headteacher and chair of governors who will know what skill shortages exist on the governing body to ensure, if possible, that the PCC nominates someone who most meets the needs of the school.  The Diocesan Director of Education (DDE) makes the appointment on behalf of the DBE.  The DDE usually confirms the nomination from the PCC but in special circumstances may decline to do so.  The conditions that have been set for the selection of foundation governors are set out in the DBE policy: click here. The DDE informs the clerk to the governors, the PCC secretary and the LA governor support team that the appointment has been made. Please note: The PCC nominated person is not a governor until the DDE makes the appointment.  The nominee may not act as a governor before this.  If attending a governor meeting, prior to appointment by the DDE, s/he should not be voting, participating in confidential parts of the agenda and must not be counted when deciding whether the meeting is quorate etc.

4.6 Term of Office. In most schools the appointment is for 4 years but this may be reduced by revising the instrument of government (or articles of association).  When the term of office is completed the same person, with the support of the PCC, may be re-appointed.  If a foundation governor wishes to resign part way through a term of office it is good practice for him/her to write to the DDE.  This is a common courtesy but also enables a replacement governor to be appointed with minimum delay. A DBE officer will usually contact the PCC and Clerk to the Governors in good time before any foundation governor’s term of office expires.  The PCC and the school should notify the DBE education office as soon as they are aware of any forthcoming changes.

4.7 Ex officio foundation governors. The principal officiating minister (that is the senior cleric) in the parish is usually a foundation governor by nature of her/his office (i.e. ex officio).  In schools that serve more than one parish there may be two ex officio foundation governors.  The 4 year term of office does not apply to the ex officio foundation governor, the priest serves until s/he leaves office.

4.8 Lay ex officio governors. Where there is likely to be a long vacancy before a new priest arrives the archdeacon is able to appoint someone to fill the gap on the governing body.  This substitute for the ex officio governor may be lay or ordained.  The term of office of the substitute is four years from the appointment by the archdeacon or until a replacement cleric is licensed whichever is soonest.  In some settings the priest serves several parishes which often include several CE and other schools.  In these circumstances the Archdeacon, in consultation with the priest may appoint a substitute governor to one of the CE churches.  Over time the needs and priorities of the different schools may change and the Archdeacon, in consultation with the DDE and the priest, may come to a different judgment about which of the schools would benefit from the priest’s engagement and appoint a substitute to a different school. In academies the Academy Members appoint the foundation governors.  However in practice the DBE is one of the members and the appointment process in place in the school prior to conversion continues once the academy is formed.   So the mechanism outlined above is followed in academies. Further information about the appointment of foundation governors may be found in the DBE policy on Foundation governors, along with nomination forms on the DBE website: click here.

4.9 CRB checks. A CRB check is not a statutory requirement for school governors. The LA advice is that all governors should be CRB checked and most schools follow this advice.  Under the regulations that apply to the appointment of governors, a refusal to submit to a CRB check disqualifies anyone from serving as a governor. The cost of a CRB check is free for volunteers but some bodies charge an administration fee which can be expensive for the school.  The Diocesan Office provides enhanced CRB checks.  The administration fee for schools is a nominal amount (currently £6).  The documents include a section for confirming the identity of the applicant this can be completed by anyone employed by the diocese who has undergone a CRB (eg any member of the clergy).  These should then be submitted to the diocesan office (Tracy Sindall, Church House, West Walls, Carlisle CA3 8UE Tel. 01228 522 573) which can also provide the blank documents.

4.10 Revising the Instrument of Government. A revision of the instrument may be initiated by the governors (or the LA).  The governors must first seek the approval of the DBE for any changes they wish to propose to the LA.  They must also have the support of the trustees and the current foundation governors.  At the time of writing all CE schools in the diocese are governed by “The School Governance Regulations 2007.”  However, any future changes to the instrument of government will mean that the 2012 regulations apply to the school.  This will affect the regulations that apply regarding the size and make-up of the governing body.

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5. The Clerk to the Governors

5.1 The clerk to the governors is a paid officer of the governing body (GB). The clerk keeps the minutes of the meetings but that is a relatively small part of her/his responsibilities.  The key responsibility is to act as a guide to the governing body and ensure that the GB fulfils it role within the law and according to perceived good practice. Given that the governors’ responsibilities are different in different kinds of school it is important that the clerk has appropriate training and support. Training for clerks is available from the LA and the diocese. The Clerk cannot be a governor in that school.

The clerk:  • ensures that the Chair (and Vice Chair if one exists) are appropriately appointed (usually takes the chair in order to guide the appointment process) • advises the GB of the constitution of committees and their powers • with the chair of governors, constructs the agendas for all meetings, ensuring that all legally required matters are completed at the appropriate meeting • notifies the governors of meetings and sends out agendas within the statutory periods • usually minutes GB meetings and committees and circulates them to the appropriate personnel • provides all foundation governors with a copy of the Instrument of Government.

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6. Charitable Status

6.1 All Church Schools are Charities.  Academies are companies as well as having charitable status.

6.2 Registration of Charities. A church school established in charity premises and which has no permanent endowment other than the premises of the school (which is usually the case) is not required to register with the Charity Commissioners.

6.3 Income Tax. Where income exists (e.g. interest on bank or building society accounts) governors of a church school in charity premises are not obliged to pay income tax.  Governors should approach the bank/building society with a copy of the trust deed governing the charity premises and a copy of The Instrument of Government.  The bank may then agree to pay interest gross. In the case of any difficulty the governors should approach HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs) Charities and request a document clarifying their charity status. Further information about all tax issues relating to charities may be found by clicking here.

6.4 Church school trusts. For a small number of schools there is an independent trust which is able to support the school (or a group of schools) financially. Advice on the management of these trusts is available through the diocesan education office.   

6.5  Academies under the Academies Act 2010. At the time of writing, all the CE academies in this diocese are established under the Academies Act 2010. They are companies limited by guarantee and described as “Academy Trusts” under The Act. Such companies are registered at Companies House (and at the Charity Commission) as registered charities. 

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7. School Buildings and Finance

7.1 The property is usually held under a trust. This section is concerned with the practicalities involved in improving and repairing the property. Children should have the best environment in which to grow and develop.  It is also important that the resources that have been handed on to our communities by previous generations should be passed on, if possible, to the next generation. Maintaining the property is therefore a key aspect of the Christian ethos of the school.

7.2 By law (The DBE Measure amended for the 2006 Education Act) the DBE must give approval before any capital works (building work, extensions, groundwork etc) are carried out in any CE school. Because much of the school property is held in trust any changes should also be approved by the trustees.

7.3  Building Consultants. The DBE provides this service for schools through DBE Services which is a limited company formed by the CE dioceses of the North West region. The consultant provides a range of services including: • Work with the school and governors in producing a building development plan in conjunction with school Asset Management Plan  • All necessary survey, special reports, specialist services and statutory approvals.  • Advice on any legal issues relating to a project and their resolution • Ensure all other requirements are in place for the successful delivery of projects.  • Advice on all building matters to address the condition, suitability and sufficiency of the school’s premises (eg repairs and maintenance, refurbishment, alterations, extensions and new buildings)  • Advice on all financial matters relating to buildings and to liaise, on behalf of the school, with Diocese, Local Authority, EFA, PSF and other relevant bodies.

The governors select a consultant from a list of consultants whose work in schools has been quality assured by the dioceses in the North West.  Consultants work with the schools on an ‘AT RISK’ basis, with fees only paid if projects and funding are approved, (with the exception of any special reports/surveys that require third-party intervention). This means that much of the work above takes place at no cost to the school until a building project begins. The governors are free to award the contract for such any project to another contractor but this would be an unusual occurrence. Where the school chooses not to use the services of DBE Services consultant there may be a charge for some of the work undertaken by the Buildings Officer

7.4 Devolved Formula Capital (DFC) Funding. DFC Is designed to enable schools to carry out maintenance and minor capital works.

7.41 In VC and Foundation Schools funding for capital works (improvement and repair) comes from central government via the LA. Each school has an allocation which the LA manages and monitors. Nevertheless DBE approval for any work must be gained in advance. Approval forms are available from the diocesan webpage, click here.

7.42 In VA Schools the governors are responsible for capital repairs and maintenance of the buildings.  The playing fields (and any buildings upon them) usually belong to the LA who are responsible for their maintenance.  The details of VA governor liabilities are traditionally set out in “The Blue Book” which is now only available online. Central government traditionally gives grants for most of the governor liabilities (currently 90%). These annual grants are paid by central government usually via the diocese (one school chooses to receive it directly). The funding for each school is calculated on the basis of pupil numbers and may only be used on capital projects over £2000. However, several smaller projects may be grouped together into one bid. The funding may also be used to provide ICT equipment.  The governors have to provide 10% of the project funding the rest may be drawn from their DFC account. The application form is available on the DBE webpage, click here. Each year’s grant may be carried forward for up to three years and accumulated over this period to pay for larger projects. After three years the unspent DFC is lost. If one school is not able to spend its grant within three years the diocese is able, with the school’s consent, to re-allocate the money to fund work at another CE school.

7.5 Major Capital Works. The government also allocates funds to enable larger capital works to take place. This funding is allocated on a county wide basis and schools have to bid for the funding. VC and Foundation Schools submit bids to the LA for a share of that “pot”.  Again they must submit their plans to the DBE and gain approval for any work in advance. Approval forms are available from the diocesan webpage: click here.

7.6 Locally Co-ordinated Voluntary Aided Programme (LCVAP). LCVAP is the funding allocated for large capital works in church schools. VA schools must bid for this funding. The applications always exceed the funding available. The decisions to allocate the funds are made collectively by the DBE, the Roman Catholic Education Office and the LA (property department.) Again the LCVAP bid application form is available on the DBE webpage: click here, along with a bid letter, click here. The DBE usually assists VA schools with cash flow issues during DFC and LCVAP projects by making the payments as they arise and reclaiming them from the school as the project is completed.

7.7 Academies. Each academy has funding agreements with the DFE which includes a payment comparable to the DFC and revenue funding received by other schools. For large projects the governors may apply for additional funding directly to the DfE. In Academies 100% of the funding comes directly from central government. Academies are required to obtain Diocesan consent to building works as prior to academy conversion. Further information is available from the diocesan education office. 

7.8 Insurance. Governors must ensure that appropriate insurance cover exists. Maintained schools usually do this through the LA but may seek cover through other agents. Academies usually make their own arrangements. The DBE has an obligation to ensure that appropriate cover exists. Schools will not be able to convert until this is confirmed. If schools / academies are not using the LA insurance they should send details of the policy which they are using to the DBE office to ensure that the cover is adequate. Any changes to the school’s cover should be notified to the DBE immediately. When undertaking large building projects the Insurance Company and the LA (for VC schools) should be notified in advance.

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8. School Teachers’ Houses

8.1 Most CE schools once came with a house for the teacher as part of her/his remuneration. Many of these have now been amalgamated into the school rooms. Others have been sold. In some the school house still exists as an independent building. If so this must be administered separately to the school premises. These premises are the responsibility of the trustees (that is not the governors or the LA) who will usually be the same trustees as the school.

8.2 Where the house is (or has been) incorporated into the school buildings it must continue to exist as a separate legal entity (eg with regard to insurance, maintenance etc). Care is needed in establishing and maintaining these arrangements. Governors are advised to consult the DBE’s legal advisor (Mr. John Hawks of Messrs. Beaty and Co. Wigton) through the diocesan education office.

8.3 Where the trustees wish to consider selling the schoolhouse they must first consult with the DBE. The DBE will also check on who will benefit from any sale as it may be that the proceeds will revert to the estate which originally donated the land/building. The regulations which relate to the selling of the house and using the proceeds are complex.  They will require the approval of The Charity Commissioners as well as the DBE. Trustees should seek advice at the earliest opportunity from the DDE.

8.4 The house may be let to provide income to the trust. The DBF is the trustee of most schools and manages a number of school houses. Because it also manages closed schools, churches, vicarages etc it is a cost effective way to manage such properties and other trustees are welcome to use the service to maximise the income.

8.5 The first call on any income generated by rent of the schoolhouse should be the insurance and maintenance of the house. Beyond that the income must be used for the original purpose of the trust which usually is to the benefit of that school. In VA schools the income may be used to provide the 10% governor liability on the capital work on the school building.

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9. School Admissions 

9.1  Admission Authorities The governing body of a voluntary aided school, a foundation school or an academy is the admissions authority for that school. In VC schools the LA is the admissions authority and they must consult with the governors when setting the policy. The admission authority for the school must agree an admissions policy for the school. This has to be done each year, though generally governors adopt the same policy year on year. At least once every 7 years the admission authority has to revise its policy though it may revise it more often. Whenever governors revise the policy they must discuss their intentions with the DBE and then consult on their proposals with stakeholders and other organisations. An important part of an admissions policy is the oversubscription criteria. These set out which children will be prioritised if there are more applications for places at the school than there are places available.

9.2 Oversubscription Criteria. The school’s policy on admissions like all its policies should be drawn up on the basis of Christian values and teaching. The DBE policy outlines how these principles apply to admissions. The admissions policy should also take account of The Trust Deed. Most trust deeds in CE schools establish that the purpose of the school is to serve children in a particular parish or geographical area. Therefore the oversubscription criteria should ensure as far as possible that children from the local community are prioritised.

9.3 The School Admissions Code. The School Admissions Code is mandatory and Admissions Policies must conform with it. It is available from the DfE by clicking here. The section on admissions in the DfE “Legal Guidance for Governors” (see appendix 3) provides clear and helpful advice. However the DBE guidance provides all the information that most schools need in order to set an admissions policy and is available on the DBE webpage: click here.

9.4 Admissions Consultation. The documents referred to above fully explain the arrangements for the consultation. The governors, having produced a draft policy must share it with the DBE first. By law, the governors must “give heed to” (i.e. they are obliged to adopt) any advice from the DBE relating to religious criteria. Only after the consultation with the DBE may the draft policy go out to consultation with other bodies including the LA.  The governors must agree the final policy at a full meeting of governors and send the policy to the DBE. In CE schools controlled by the LA, that is VC schools. The LA sets the admissions policy for the school. In exactly the same way the LA is obliged by law to consult with the diocese etc. before setting the policy for the school.

9.5 Appeals to the Schools Adjudicator. Where there is disagreement over a schools admission policy parents and others may refer the matter to The Office of the Schools’ Adjudicator to arbitrate and make a final decision. The diocese may also make such a referral and invariably does so if the school’s policy following consultation fails to conform to statutory requirements.

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10. The Governors as Employers

10.1  In most CE schools the governing body employs the staff. Only in VC schools are the staff employed by the LA though in practice the appointment of staff is largely delegated to the governors.

10.2 Appointments. In VA schools or former VA academies the governors may require heads and other teaching staff to be Christian. The same applies to other staff if their role in school justifies such a requirement. In VC and Foundation Schools governing bodies may require “reserved teachers” to be Christian but this is rarely used. For information on “reserved teachers” see paragraph 11.34 below. In all CE schools all members of staff must demonstrate a commitment to the Christian ethos of the school as set out in the Trust Deed and the Instrument of Government.   

10.3 Advisory Rights. The LA has the right to advise governors on the appointment and dismissal of staff in VC schools (since technically they are employed by the LA). The governors may invite the diocese to support them through the appointments process. In VA and CE foundation schools the governors may give the LA advisory rights in appointments.  If they do then the governors must give the same advisory rights to the DBE that it accords to the LA. The DFE advice to schools is that they accord the same rights to the diocese as they do the LA (Guide to the Law for Governors page 92) In CE academies the Articles of Association require the involvement of the DDE in the appointment of headteachers. In practice, irrespective of the type of CE school, the diocesan director welcomes the opportunity to support the governors in the appointment of headteachers and sometimes other staff. Governors find this helpful because it allows diocesan staff to share insights and experience gained from other governing bodies’ appointments experience. The level of engagement from the diocese is outlined in the diocesan partnership agreement. For further guidance on appointments see the policy on the DBE webpage: (Awaiting link, in the meantime please contact the DBE Office for further advice.)

10.4 Formal Procedures. The LA, in consultation with the staff professional associations/unions and the diocese, produces draft policies on various issues such as complaints, redundancy, competency, discipline etc. Governing bodies in CE maintained schools are strongly advised to adopt these at the first governors’ meeting of each academic year. Some governing bodies amend these policies before adopting them, which is their prerogative. However, given that the documents have been thoroughly negotiated with professional associations and have been carefully drafted to ensure that they are consistent with the many regulations that relate to employment law and public service it is strongly recommended that they are adopted as they stand. Given the Christian concern for fairness and openness it is vitally important that governors follow the adopted policies fully.  Sometimes it may seem that a simpler solution to a difficulty could be found outside the procedures but this is seldom the case as many governing bodies have discovered to their cost.  In most CE schools, happily, governors seldom need to use these procedures. This means that, if ever they do, then they are often on unfamiliar territory. It is therefore strongly advised that should difficulties arise which are covered by the agreed procedures that the appropriate governor (usually the Chair of Governors) contacts the diocesan director of education (and in maintained schools, the LA) as soon as possible. These issues are usually complex and challenging but we have had experience and some success in guiding governors through them. Legally the same rights exist as outlined above under appointments (paragraph 10.2). That is, in VA schools governors must accord the diocesan director the same advisory rights as the LA. In VC and foundation schools they may accord these advisory rights. However the diocese’s main concern is not to stand on its rights but to support governors through what are complex, stressful and sometimes costly procedures.

10.5 Formal Procedures in Academies. Academies will not usually have access to the procedures negotiated by the LA. They must however have appropriate policies in place to cover all eventualities and are advised to seek them from an appropriate and reliable body.  This may be an Academies support group. CE academies should ensure that the policies produced by such a body are suitable for use in a CE school and if necessary should consult with the DBE education team. In all CE academies the diocese will be represented as founding Member(s) and therefore expects to be being notified immediately should procedures be invoked.

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11. Denominational Education

11.1 The phrase “denominational education” used in legal documents distinguishes those aspects of education in a CE school which relate to the CE status (technically the “religious foundation”) from those aspects of the school which are common to all schools. For example, the National Curriculum is non denominational education because it applies to all schools. Collective worship (formerly called “assembly”) is part of the denominational education because it is governed by laws which relate specifically to the school’s CE (the denominational) status. The governors are responsible for the denominational education.  The Diocesan Board of Education is established by law (the DBE Measure) to advise, monitor and hold CE schools to account. For those who enjoy legalese the DBE Measure is available on the DBE webpage: click here.

11.2 Collective Worship. In all CE schools collective worship is part of the denominational education and is therefore governed by its CE status. Worship in the school must be Christian worship. Nevertheless best practice in CE schools has often used material from other religions and cultures (eg stories, poetry, imagery etc) as well as Christian traditions. Although the worship must be based on Christian forms this does not mean that the school may assume that all the children are Christian or wish to become Christian. According to Christian teaching God has given all people free will. In Christian schools especially the freedom of each person to choose, or not choose, for him/herself should be paramount. So CE schools must acknowledge and celebrate Christian teaching and values, and should strive to put them into practice in the way the school is run.  There should be a respect for Christian Faith but schools or individuals must not seek to impose it on children or others.  (See the comments on “faith schools” paragraph 2.5 above). Governors have particular responsibility for the collective worship that takes place. They are accountable for it.  Furthermore governors have a special responsibility to communicate and promote the Christian ethos of the school. Collective worship is perhaps the single most influential means of promoting the Christian character of the school and will therefore be a priority for governors. They should be active in monitoring and evaluation and in ensuring that arrangements and resources are in place to ensure that it is carried out effectively by staff and others. For further guidance and support materials on collective worship see the diocesan webpage: click here.

11.3 Religious Education  

11.30  Much of what is said above about collective worship applies equally to religious education (RE). However the status of RE depends on the category of the school. In VC schools and Foundation Schools RE is usually non denominational.  It therefore takes place in accordance with the requirements of the Local Authority Agreed Syllabus. In VA (or former VA) schools RE is part of the denominational education. Governors must therefore determine the RE curriculum. CE schools traditionally follow a diocesan syllabus. For some time the DBE has advised VA schools to follow the Cumbrian Agreed Syllabus since the DBE is one of the bodies that has “agreed” the syllabus.

11.31 Our current advice is that in any CE school Christianity should occupy about 70% of the RE curriculum. Other religions should be studied and the DBE strongly advises that one of the other religions should be Islam. Further guidance may be found in the RE documents on the DBE webpage.

11.32 Because it is a part of the denominational education in VA schools (and formerly VA academies) the diocese inspects RE there.

11.33 CE Academies must follow the requirements of the articles of association, the funding agreements with the Secretary of State and the Supplementary Agreement with the diocese. These have usually been written to ensure that the legal requirements prior to academy conversion have been preserved in the academy.

11.34 Reserved Teachers. Any parent in VC, CE, foundation schools or (formerly VC) academies may request denominational RE for their child. That is, that the child be taught RE in accordance with a diocesan syllabus. In order to do this a “reserved teacher” should be appointed in these schools. The reserved teacher may be the headteacher. Because the reserved teacher is delivering denominational education (even if only for one person) the governors may require a Christian commitment of this person. The diocesan inspection of the school would have to give a judgement on the quality of this RE.

11.4 Inspection of Denominational Education. The Education Act 2005 and The Education (School Inspection) (England) Regulations 2009 (SI1564) govern the inspection of all schools. Section 5 of the Act concerns the arrangements for an Ofsted inspection of schools.  Section 48 of the Act concerns the arrangements for inspection of the denominational education in schools with a religious foundation. So in CE schools there will be an inspection by Ofsted (section 5 inspection) and an inspection arranged by the diocese (section 48 inspection). The expectation is that together they will provide a judgement on the effectiveness of the school. The diocesan inspection currently follows the SIAS framework.  SIAS stands for Statutory Inspection of Anglican Schools. In the past the two inspections have taken place at the same time, or with in about a week of each other. From September 2012 the inspection regime will change and the two inspections will be separated in time.  The Ofsted inspection will be notified to the school as in the past though with less notice.  The date for the diocesan (SIAS) inspection will be determined by the diocese and the school will be notified the week before the inspection.

11.5 Statutory Inspection in Anglican Schools (SIAS). The DBE manages the inspection process, trains and monitors the inspectors and provides quality assurance an important part of which is feedback from staff and governors on the experience. The inspection is intended to be robust but friendly. Ideally it is a positive, professional interaction which provides independent and reliable assessment and advice to the governors and senior managers. The SIAS inspection will make judgments and report on a number of issues. The main outline judgement on the school will consider the question: How distinctive and effective is the school as a Church School?

In order to make a judgement on this the inspector considers the following questions:  • How well does the school, through its distinctive Christian character, meet the needs of all learners?  • What is the impact of collective worship on the school community?  • How effective is religious education? (VA and former VA academies only)  • How effective are the leadership & management of the school as a church school?

The school leadership, i.e. the governors and the senior staff, should make and record an evaluation of the school’s effectiveness in these areas. The inspection is intended to provide a judgment on the accuracy of the governors’ ongoing assessment of the school. For further information about the current arrangements for the diocesan inspection and for guidance on self-evaluation etc see the diocesan webpage: click here. You should also consult the collective worship and RE sections and their web links carefully. 

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12. Church and CE School links

12.1  The parish church(es) support the school. The local CE schools should support the school in a variety of ways by providing:  • effective governors  • access to the church buildings and grounds for worship and education  • leaders for collective worship on a regular, planned basis  • volunteers to support the curriculum, especially but not only, RE  • leadership and resources for church based and Christian after school activities ( and sometimes non church activities)  • pastoral support for staff, parents, children and governors  • expertise on various matters inc


We have set up our governor training as four modules, which cover areas we consider essential for church governors to help them fulfil their role. Schools that have signed up to our package of support (through the Partnership Agreement) can access some free places on these courses.



Guidance for GovernorsGuidance for Governors
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foundation governor nomination formfoundation governor nomination form
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