New statutory guidance 'The constitution of governing bodies of maintained schools', which was published March 2015, highlights that as of 1 September 2015, governing bodies of maintained schools will be under a duty to publish on their website their register of interests. Academies must have regard to the academies financial handbook which requires that all members of the governing body complete a declaration of their business interests.
The register should set out the relevant business interests of governors and details of any other educational establishments they govern. The register should also set out any relationships between governors and members of the school staff including spouses, partners and relatives.
Governing bodies should therefore make it clear in their code of conduct that this information will be published about their governors and, where applicable, their associate members. Any governor failing to reveal information to enable the governing body to fulfil their responsibilities may be in breach of the code of conduct and as a result be bringing the governing body into disrepute. In such cases the governing body should consider suspending the governor.
There is no comprehensive definition of what constitutes a business interest, but declarations should include any links with individuals, businesses, contractors, directorships, shareholdings or other appointments where the school may purchase goods or services from or who are directly employed by the school. It should also include interests of related persons such as parent, spouse, co-habitee, child or business partners where influence could be exerted by that person over a governor or a member of staff.
Where a governor or member of staff or related person has any interest, either pecuniary or non-pecuniary, in a matter to be discussed at a governors’ meeting the governor or member of staff must declare their interest and withdraw from that part of the meeting.
If you are unsure it is usually better to declare or check with the Governor Clerking Service.
The Governor Clerking Service will provide relevant information and guidance to support Governing Bodies with this requirement when firm guidance has been received from the DFE.
In the meantime governors are reminded that currently the requirement is that all governing bodies continue to maintain a register of business interests as set out in the Kirklees scheme for financing schools.
New constitution guidance states that Governors hold an important public office and their identity should be known to their school and wider communities. Governing bodies should therefore publish on their website information about their members (although the guidance is not relevant to academies it is recommended that this requirement be followed). The information they should publish should, as a minimum include for each governor:
their category of governor;
which body appoints them;
their term of office;
the names of any committees the governor serves on; and
details of any positions of responsibility such as chair or vice-chair of the governing body or a committee of the governing body.
Governing bodies should also publish this information for associate members, making clear whether they have voting rights on any of the committees they serve on.
If your Governing Body has already reconstituted there is no reason why these details cannot be included on your website with immediate effect. To enable governing bodies to fulfil this requirement the Governor Clerking Service will be providing the Chair of Governors with an up to date list of the membership of their Governing Body which can be used for this purpose.