Academy Governance Conference: Delivering continuous improvement

6 October 2017 | 9:30am–4:00pm | Hallam Conference Centre

View the conference slides

Academy trusts face challenges on a number of fronts, among them the challenge of delivering continuous improvement to the board, the trust and pupils and the need to ensure that good governance results in outstanding pupil achievement. 

This one-day conference explores some of the key governance challenges faced by trust boards, and is designed to equip delegates with the tools they need to get to grips with them. Our speakers will look at board development and succession planning; the value of building meaningful partnerships with members and stakeholders; the need to generate sustainable funding and avoid insolvency; and the vital importance of recognising and managing conflicts of interests and loyalty. 

The conference will combine insights from a range of experts on the latest in governance thinking, and offer delegates an opportunity to network, share ideas and learn from one another.

CPD hours: 4.5


09.30 Registration, tea/coffee

Chair’s opening remarks

Louise Thomson FCIS, Head of Policy (NFP), ICSA


Keynote address

The new governance handbook and competency frameworks

Earlier this year the Department for Education (DfE) released three documents: an updated Governance Handbook, the Competency Framework for Governance, and the Clerking Competency Framework to provide guidance to trust boards and clerks in effectively carrying out their roles and functions. We take a closer look at the key governance themes emerging from the guidance, and consider how they might inform the work of the DfE moving forward.

Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner, Department for Education


Tackling conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interests and loyalty can appear in any organisation, especially so where a range of stakeholders are involved. In 2016, for instance, some 23 academy trusts were revealed as having breached funding rules in cases of related party transactions. In this session, we focus upon the importance of identifying, managing and avoiding conflicts of interests. We highlight the legal duties of trustees and offer some practical guidance on how to develop and implement appropriate policies and procedures.

Graeme Hornsby, School Business Management Consultancy Ltd and Specialist Advisor, New Schools Network

11.00 Networking tea and coffee break

Demonstrating financial control

The changes in government funding for schools present a new challenge for MATs, and while some thrive financially others will struggle. As charitable companies limited by guarantee, MATs are subject to the insolvency regime, so it is important that trustees are aware of the potential risks and liabilities to which they are exposed. This session offers tips and guidance on approaches to sustainable funding, and highlights the duties, responsibilities and potential consequences for trustees of not acting quickly in times of financial distress.

Stephen Morales, CEO, NASBM


Maximising the impact of the board

A successful board can demonstrate the impact of good governance on pupil achievement, and for MATs this means embedding good governance even when operating over a geographically and culturally diverse area. But how do you link governance with achievement? And what tools can boards use to make it happen? In this session we explore the value of delegating, the use of committees and empowering senior leadership teams, and examine the role of Local Governing Bodies.

Dr Kate Chhatwal, Director, Southwark Teaching School Alliance and Chair of Standards, STEP Academy Trust


Creating a meaningful stakeholder engagement plan

Sitting at the heart of communities, academy schools generate vast and varied interest from a wide pool of stakeholders, and good relations with members and stakeholders alike are an important part of what makes a MAT successful. But balancing influence and interest, internal and external stakeholders, can be tricky. In this session, we reflect upon what a good stakeholder engagement plan looks like and discuss how members can work with trusts to maximise their impact as part of the wider stakeholder group.

Panellists include:

Michelle Doyle Wildman, Acting CEO, PTA UK

David Gracie, Vice Chair, Green Spring Education Trust and Director, Global Entity Management Legal Services, KPMG

Brian Lightman, Director, Lightman Consulting and Former General Secretary, ASCL

13.15 Networking lunch

Afternoon keynote address

Mike Sheridan, Regional Director, London, Ofsted


Succession planning: the board and beyond

Overseeing succession planning, taking time to evaluate the skills and competencies around the board table, and ensuring that the executive team has effective talent management and development processes in place are all key responsibilities for any board. That’s as true of academy trusts as it is of the largest corporates, and in this session we look at how trusts can get the right arrangements in place and develop a culture of continuous improvement in both the boardroom and in the schoolroom.

Matthew Robb, Managing Director, Parthenon – EY, Ernst & Young LLP


Closing keynote address

Brian Lightman, Director, Lightman Consulting and Former General Secretary, ASCL

15.45 Final remarks and close of conference

*This is a draft programme and may be subject to change


Graeme Hornsby, School Business Management Consultancy Ltd and Specialist Advisor, New Schools Network

Graeme Hornsby has over 30 years’ experience as a clerk to governors supporting both primary and secondary schools and currently clerks for a range of single and multi-academy trust boards. He also has extensive experience as a School Business Manager where he is recognised nationally as a leading practitioner in this field and is a fellow of NASBM. Graeme sat on the Advisory Group on Governance at the DfE on behalf of ASCL and is a regular and highly regarded speaker at training events for school leaders and governors. Graeme provides consultancy support to schools, trusts and other organisations on school business management and governance issues and undertakes internal audit work in academy trusts.

Brian Lightman, Director, Lightman Consulting and Former General Secretary, ASCL

Brian Lightman was General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders from September 2010 - January 2016. He was President of the Association in 2007-8 during which time he chose ‘Leading Professionals’ as his theme for the year. Between 2012 and 2014 he led a second ‘Great Education Debate’ which attracted widespread interest and paved the way for the blueprint for a self-improving system published by ASCL in 2015.

Brian is acknowledged as an authority on the English and Welsh education systems. His broad experience within the English and Welsh education systems spanning 38 years has included 2 headships, extensive representation on UK and Welsh Assembly Government committees, being an external examiner and an Estyn inspector.

As an invited speaker he has regularly contributed to seminars and conferences on education, writes extensively and has frequently appeared in the media. Now self-employed he has a wide ranging portfolio which includes working with individual and groups of schools providing coaching for middle and senior leaders, professional development and support for school improvement.

Brian is a Patron of the National Citizen Service and serves on the boards of the Careers and Enterprise company and the PiXL Edge trust.

Matthew Robb, Managing Director, Parthenon – EY, Ernst & Young LLP

Matt joined Parthenon in autumn 2010, having worked in both public and private sectors within education following a career at McKinsey & Co., where he led strategy and organization work in a wide range of contexts, from highly successful FTSE 30 companies and mid-caps to public sector institutions and government departments.

For seven years, Matt worked in the education support services sector, holding P&L responsibility. He led teams working on school improvement (National Challenge), academy development, the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, and on children’s services technology and management information.

Since joining Parthenon, Matt has led our education work in the UK and Europe. He has led work across every stage and sub-sector of education in the UK and across Europe, including public and private schools (K-12), vocational and further education, universities and support services. In particular he has written on school reform, including published work for Policy Exchange and Reform on performance-related pay for teachers and school governance.

He has worked in buy and sell-side diligence, international strategy, marketing and sales force strategy and general corporate strategy.

Matt holds a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and was the Gatsby Scholar.

Michelle Doyle Wildman, Acting CEO, PTA UK

Michelle joined PTA UK in May 2015 as its Policy and Communications Director and since May 2017 has been the charity’s Acting Chief Executive.

She has over 20 years’ experience of leading teams, public affairs and stakeholder engagement; previously holding senior roles at the Environment Agency and South East Water.

As a mother of two boys and wife of a teacher, Michelle takes a keen personal interest in our schools. She has spoken and written widely on how parents can participate positively in education.

Michelle is an accredited practitioner and member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and is a member of ACEVO.


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How to book


Sector organisations: 
Price: £240 +VAT 

Non-sector organisations: 
Price: £365 +VAT


This conference took place on 6 October 2017


Hallam Conference Centre
44 Hallam Street 

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