New model Articles of Association for Academy Trusts
The ESFA have updated the model articles of association for Academy Trusts. These should be adopted by all new Trusts, and also used by existing Trusts updating their articles. The changes are a mix of providing greater clarity in areas that were deemed to need it, emphasising the need for the roles of members and the clerk to have greater prominence and reflecting changes to the way we operate our lives in 2021.
Clarity and reflection of changing times
Many of the changes have the simple purpose of providing greater clarity of the articles, such as updates to definitions to ensure they are not too narrow. For example there is now a definition of “parent” to include anyone with parental responsibility for a pupil; previously there was no such definition. There are also references to electronic documents to update the articles for new working practices. Another example is the use of “company” to replace “Academy Trust” in certain areas to reflect the increasing use of trading subsidiaries and ensure that they are included.
Role of members and the clerk
There are changes to the articles that give greater focus on the role of members, the need for them to be independent of the board, their powers and the need for them to hold an AGM. They also have the ability to set shorter terms of office for trustees, and to remove trustees in certain circumstances, essentially “beefing up” their role somewhat.
An important change of terminology is that the clerk to the governors is now referred to as a Governance Professional. This both emphasises the importance of their role, and of the need for them to be sufficiently qualified or experienced to undertake it.
New wording allows the formal participation of trustees in meetings held virtually, and also extends this to members.