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Governance and Accountability – an outline
An Accountability Framework
- The need for a framework that provides clarity of duties, roles, accountabilities, and responsibilities of all partners is imperative for all organisations in order to secure effective systems of leadership, management, and operation, and to secure required outcomes.
- The AET’s Accountability Framework (also referred to as the ‘ARCI’1 ) is discussed in this paper. It is a continually evolving framework, and grown from on-going dialogue with partners and stakeholders across the AET family.
- The ARCI seeks the following principles for the AET and its partners:
- clarity of duties and roles
- clarity of accountabilities and responsibilities for actions, decisions, outcomes, etc – and who should be consulted over and who should be kept informed of, such matters
- the embedding the ARCI in AET systems and procedures, and in the way we work – such as standard operating procedures, policy statements, job descriptions, and performance management, at every level of activity (classroom to Board)
- the devolution of leadership and responsibility to the closest point of delivery, whilst sustaining a coherent set of accountabilities across the AET family
- Please send comments to Steve Leverett on firstname.lastname@example.org
- The outline governance structure of the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) is as depicted in figure 1.
- A performance framework is provided for this structure which seeks to define the inter-relationships and reporting routes for each level of governance, and where relevant, how these relate to the changing role of the local authority (LA). The basis of this framework is provided for through a definition at each level of clearly defined duties in terms of accountabilities2 and responsibilities3 in relation to an agreed set of functions and outcomes.
- In figure 1, the Greensward Charitable Trust (GCT) – as the principal sponsor of the AET – holds the overall accountability for the vision and direction of the AET project. It holds the ultimate accountability for the AET’s effectiveness. The AET is in effect the ‘operating arm’ of the GCT, and hold the operational accountability for its own effectiveness, reporting back to the GCT on a regular basis.
- In terms of company and charitable law, the AET Directors hold the accountability for the effective business operation of the AET. However, it is a key principle of the GCT and the AET that leadership and management is devolved to the point closest to the operation. Governing bodies of AET academies, and other committees of the AET Board, therefore will hold defined accountabilities and responsibilities (on behalf of the AET); likewise, leaders and managers at every level of the organisation (pivotally, at every level of AET academies – especially within classrooms), each and every one of us will hold our own sets of accountabilities and responsibilities as stakeholders sharing in the work and effectiveness of the AET enterprise.
- Clarity over decision-making is a further imperative in this arrangement, where individuals (singular or corporate) are clearly mandated to take certain decisions, within the accountabilities-responsibilities arrangements, in order that actions will be undertaken that will deliver the required functions and achieve required outcomes.
- All of this should be clearly defined in the constitution of the Trust arrangements, and detailed in associated instruments of governance.
- Table I seeks to define in headlines duties in relation to the accountabilities and responsibilities at each level of governance of the Trust arrangements, together with the role of the LA, with particular reference to vision and ethos, education, the well being and welfare of pupils, and wider community engagement. The ‘source’ of these duties in terms of the legislative framework is also suggested. Who should be consulted and kept informed of decisions, developments etc., is also suggested.
- Those functions of the governing bodies of the proposed academies that are more or less the same as those of the governing bodies of current (Foundation) schools are marked in the Table with an asterisk (*).
- In all cases, where shared responsibilities are in place, it is essential for all parties to be clear about what their respective roles are and how they share, communicate, and co-ordinate their roles and responsibilities.
- Where the responsibility (the R) held by a particular party is not suitably fulfilled, the body holding the accountability (the A) has the duty to intervene to ensure the R is effectively in place.
Duties and Roles
2 In this paper, the term ‘accountable’ is used to indicate (in terms of an individual person defined by role, or an individual corporate entity) who has the ultimate duty to ensure that a function is fulfilled or that an outcome is achieved. Only one individual can hold such accountability, otherwise ambiguities will occur in terms of who does indeed have an ultimate duty for a function or outcome.
3 The term ‘responsible’ is used to indicate who has a duty to fulfil a function to achieve a defined outcome. Such a duty may be shared by a number of individuals, so long as roles and reporting lines are clearly defined.
4 Note: the name may be changed.
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