Creating Whole Trust DNA

Two of the fundamental ingredients in the success of any governance structure are relationships and communication.  When they are lacking, boards lack ambition, drive, and cohesiveness.

I have been fortunate to work with many Trusts and even the Department for Education to create governance structures from scratch or refine existing ones and know that my work is made easier when any work is co-produced.

Co-production is not just a word; it's not just a concept; it's a meeting of minds coming together to find a shared solution. In practice, co-production in MAT governance involves people involved in governing the trust, whether at a Trust level or local board level. Using their insight to create a bespoke governance framework that suits their needs and ambitions and is built on solid relationships leads to a better filtration of information and communication flow.  

Like the work I did for the Department for Education, creating a governance framework for a new Code of Practice for the STEM sector.  Tomorrow’s Engineers Code seeks to make engineering careers accessible for young people, so I worked with senior executives from leading STEM companies, such as Shell, to ensure that they all had the chance to influence how the new code would be governed.  Involving people interested in the work from the outset ensured that everyone bought into the importance of governance.

I’ve also worked with several Multi-Academy Trusts to support their ways of working, some from the beginning, like Create Learning Trust, and some to reset their governance, like Holy Family Catholic Multi Academy Trust.  

At Create Learning Trust, Leaders and Directors were keen to get the governance framework right from the start; they saw the value in local boards and equipping them with the skills to sit at the heart of governance.  By layering their governance and having a clear understanding of who does what, representatives from Local Academy Boards became champions for children with different specialisms.  The Champion roles ensure that the Trust gets an accurate view from the governors, who triangulate what's actually happening in school.  I was impressed at how local governors grasped the role, helping to embed it - I'm particularly grateful to Cuddington Primary School Governors, who helped with refining the roles and making them work.

As Trusts merge and grow, getting governance right is even more important (if it can be more important).  The Department for Education is now promoting External Reviews of Governance for all MATs, to ensure that they regularly evaluate the work of the Trust.  Our Shaping Governance in MATs is receiving a great deal of attention at the moment, mainly due to its inclusive and all-in-one approach to learning, developing, improving.  And that we whole-heartedly believe that Local Boards are at the heart of good governance within a MAT and that investing and upskilling all involved in governance will lead to wholescale improvement.

Just like our parent company Insight to Impact, Our approach to creating or refining governance structures use people’s insight to make an impact, here I have adapted our core values and principles to top tips for you:

  • Insight - people have the answer hidden inside, use appreciative approaches to draw this out;
  • Involve - the best governance is inclusive and diverse - ensure your governance is too;
  • Innovate - being creative and brave, and trying new things can open up new ways of working;
  • Integrity -  being honest and having strong moral principles, focusing on your visions and staying true to them;
  • Impact - knowing that by focusing on the above you will make a difference to governors, to boards, to schools, and of course to children!

Co-production = whole trust DNA!

What's the view of governance in your Multi-Academy Trust? We'd love to find out.

Posted in Shaping Governance.