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School Governance

Scope of Governance

Governors play an important role in our church schools, contributing to school leadership and effectiveness, and, if a foundation governor, maintaining the Christian ethos of the school. 
Through the Diocese of Ely Educational Trust (DEET), the Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) has a role in the appointment of Members and Directors (governors) for the Diocese of Ely Multi Academy Trust (DEMAT) and our single academy trusts, as well as being the diocesan corporate members and trustees for DEMAT and our single academy trusts.

Ethos and Core Principles of a Church School

The National Society provides a model ethos statement for all Church of England schools.  While the whole governing board will have agreed this ethos statement, it is the foundation governors who have a particular responsibility to ensure that it is reflected in all aspects of school governance and life. Each maintained school’s ethos statement can be found within its Instrument of Government. It is a legal requirement for both maintained schools and academies to publish a statement of their ethos and values on the school website.

Best practice ethos statements would include.

  • Recognition of its historic foundation
  • The school preserving and developing its religious character in accordance with the principles of the Church of England and in partnership with the Church at parish and diocesan level.
  • The school aims to service its community by providing an education of the highest quality within the context of Christian belief and practice.
  • It encourages an understanding of the meaning and significance of faith and promotes Christian values through the experience it offers to all its pupils.

All governors of church schools share a corporate responsibility for every aspect of the school, and that good governance requires that all understand and develop the foundation and ethos of the school.

Every church school has Trust Deed. This is a critical document setting out the details of the foundation of the school and the basis on which the buildings and land were originally granted. It sets out appointment of the trustees of the school and what activities are permitted on the premises. Although many of them are very old, a trust deed is a living document that can have a real impact on anything from the admissions policy to the extended services that is provided at the school site.

For maintained schools, the other document that informs the ethos of the school is the Instrument of Government (IoG). This not only sets out the size and composition of your governing board, including who appoints the foundation governors, but it also contains the ethos statement for your school. The Instrument of Government is drawn from statutory guidance on the composition of governing bodies, issued by the Department for Education.

Academies are also required to have an ethos statement and to publish this online. Most voluntary controlled (VC) church schools have no more than three foundation governors, many only two. At voluntary aided (VA) schools the aim for the number of foundation governors is that they outnumber by two or more of all other categories of governor combined.

It is important that all church school governors understand the policies on RE, collective worship, spiritual development; and that all governors understand the importance of the school’s foundation and ethos and exactly what the SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican & Methodist Schools) inspection is looking at and for.

Foundation governors are not expected to carry such significant responsibilities alone.

Good governance requires the corporate understanding and support for the distinctively Christian ethos of the school and how this underpins and informs every area of activity and every policy.

If you need any support or advice on governance matters, please do not hesitate to contact Jacqueline McCamphill at

Page last updated: Wednesday 22nd May 2024 12:23 PM
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