These functions are reflected in the criteria that Ofsted inspectors use to judge the effectiveness of governance in schools.
The first step is to ensure an academy trust has Governors on the board with the appropriate skills. On the 18th March 2015 Lord Nash announced £1 million of funding to help schools recruit high calibre governors (see £1m for Governor recruitment). The funding will be utilised to create a new online tool that will allow schools to search for appropriately skilled Governors.
A common criticism of academy governance, which often hits the headlines, is the use of suppliers who are related parties. The Conflicts of interest in academy sponsorship arrangements report, undertaken by the London Centre for Leadership in Education and the Institute of Education, found potential conflicts of interest were common in academies. These can include individuals on the board of academy trusts benefiting personally or via their companies from procurement decisions, as well as providing services under a license that prevents the school from changing provider. Academies need to be very careful to make sure all interests are declared and the correct procedures are followed when purchasing supplies from a related party. If they don’t, even if it is in the best interests of the school and offering the best value for money, they not only they risk investigation by the EFA, but also the reputation of their school if such transactions become news stories.
Common Regularity Issues
For the year ended 31 August 2013 2,248 sets of audited accounts were submitted to the EFA. Of these 25 (1.1%) had a qualified audit opinion and 73 (3.2%) had a qualified regularity opinion. Figures are yet to be released for 2014. Qualified opinions on regularity reports included: