Governance update

21 March 2022 / Insight posted in Newsletter

As our Moore Kingston Smith Schools conference returns after a 12-month hiatus, looking back to my presentation in 2020 and the three themes I covered, it became apparent that two of those themes remain consistent. (I don’t think early 2020 would have been the time to be considering lessons learned from the pandemic though!). But I feel what has changed in that time, is that the three themes have become more mature in 2022, with a raft of additional guidance available to help us navigate through those topics.

I will signpost a number of the articles, regulator guidance or reports that should help you on your governance journey below.

 

Lessons learned regarding governance during the pandemic

After any ‘significant or difficult’ event, a lessons learned review is always an important step. The pandemic has been (and continues to be, for many) the most testing two years in recent memory. We have been helping a number of our clients learn from their experiences and strengthen their governance as a result. Some common themes include:

  • Most schools will now have a well-tested ‘emergency decisions’ policy and procedures
  • During the pandemic the ‘dotted line’ between Trustees/Governors being focused on strategic decisions and the Leadership Team on operational became blurred – is it now time to reinstate that governance foundation?
  • How well did the organisations’ risk appetite/risk register/risk framework perform and what could be amended for the future?
  • If the school had a delegated authority framework with sub-committees, were the ‘most important’ matters being reserved for the Board/Governors?
  • Was the reserves policy appropriate (and does it continue to be, two years later?)

 

Safeguarding

Obviously, a policy (and an embedded culture) remains at the forefront for any school, but alongside the recent ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Everyone’s Invited’ movements, there have been a number of sector updates in this area:

  • The Charity Governance Code refresh in late 2020 which became embedded in many governance frameworks throughout 2021.
  • Charity Commission Regulatory alert to larger charities providing services – “Service-providing charities are those in which front-line staff or volunteers directly serve and interact with beneficiaries – some of whom may be vulnerable. While expectations around safeguarding for some charities may be higher, protecting people and safeguarding responsibilities should be a governance priority for all charities, not an optional overhead.”
  • Charity Commission Regulatory alert to international aid charities – much of the guidance is still relevant – “effective safeguarding is never complete and all charities must be alert to the risk of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse and should foster a culture committed to rooting it out.”
  • Five minute guide on safeguarding – the Charity Commission’s guidance can never usually be described as ‘succinct’, but their recent development of six ‘5-minute guides’, including one on safeguarding, marks a welcome addition to the guidance available and should form part of every Trustee/Governor induction or annual update.

 

Equality, equity, diversity and inclusion (EED&I)

The Charity Governance Code refresh, already linked above, marked a step change in this area for the education and nonprofit sector. Every organisation we work with now seems to be considering this area in more detail and are already on the journey towards a more diverse Board/Governing body and embedding a culture of EED&I into their organisation. A few recent articles and reports that I have found interesting include:

And if the above wasn’t enough bedtime reading, the remainder of 2022 is sure to deliver more, with a recent new Chair of the Charity Governance Code Steering Group announced, more institutions undertaking ‘lessons learned’ reviews and continuing on our EED&I journey towards agreed objectives.

 

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