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2020 Governance Handbook released

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​The Department for Education (DfE) has released a revised version of the governance handbook for 2020. The governance handbook sets out the roles, functions and legal duties of governing boards in maintained schools, academies and multi academy trusts. It also describes the main features of effective governance and where governing boards can find support.

Changes from the previous version (March 2019) include:

  • An increased emphasis on the board's role in safeguarding
  • An increased emphasis on the importance of risk assessments
  • An increased emphasis on the importance of the board reflecting the diversity of their community and promoting inclusivity, and new information on the appointment and removal of academy trustees and those on local governing bodies.
  • New information about academy trustees’ responsibilities for keeping members informed and new information on forthcoming requirement that members must not be employees of the trust.
  • Updated information on the importance of boards being supported by a skilled and knowledgeable clerk/governance professional.
  • Updated text on the head teachers' standards and role and responsibilities of head teachers to their board.


The governance handbook should be considered alongside the department's 'Competency Framework for Governance' and the 'Clerking Competency Framework', which describe the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for effective governance and professional clerking.

First published 13 October 2020