CEO Blog

Governance at the Three Rivers Learning Trust

Governance volunteers sitting in a meeting

Good governance lies at the heart of all successful organisations and it  can transform performance from top to bottom.  Our Trust is a single legal entity, with 8 schools, approximately 500 employees and over 3000 children and young people - that requires a lot of governance!

The Trust Board (12 trustees), is legally responsible for all 8 schools and needs to know the schools really well, and so has delegated some of the key functions of governance to an Academy Council for each school, working locally to be the “eyes and ears” of the board, providing the challenge and support that helps each school to continually improve.

We have in total, therefore, over 70 volunteers involved in governance at the Three Rivers, from a wide range of backgrounds and with a varied and complementary skill set.  Many balance this work with full time employment, many are parents with children in the Trust, although not always at the particular school that they support.  Most, although not all, live within or have a connection with our geographical location.  Some have educational expertise, which is very well used, and many provide a different viewpoint, from a wide range of backgrounds.  This all adds up to a huge amount of expertise, ultimately for the benefit of our children and young people.

How does our governance function in practice?

Of course we have a myriad of meetings over the course of an academic year, with 6 Board Meetings, 6 x 8 Academy Council Meetings, 3 Audit Meetings and a Members AGM = a minimum of 58 meetings.  Alongside this are regular visits to each school, to see policy turned into practice and to meet with staff, children and young people.  Involvement in governance at our Trust is an active and busy role, as it should be, and we are immensely appreciative and grateful for this commitment.  Our full schedule of governance continued throughout the pandemic with the usual meetings and school visits carried out remotely, and a lot of new skills were learned in the process!

The glue in our governance calendar is Strategy Saturday!

Strategy Saturday meetings are held termly and bring together everyone involved in governance and school leadership at the Learning Trust, to shape and develop our trust priorities, to engage in professional development and to network, bringing Trustees, Academy Councillors and school leaders together.  This is the Senior Leadership of the Learning Trust, all in one place to develop, learn and improve our practice.  These events have collaboratively developed our vision and values, refined and improved our systems of governance and enabled each school to contribute and learn from one another.  During the pandemic we met remotely, via google, to continue this work but it was fantastic that we were able to meet in-person once again, in October 2021, where sessions were delivered on:

  • The key changes to Keeping Children Safe in Education

  • Good practice in SEND provision

  • The return of OfSTED and the Inspection Framework

  • The career development framework and the Teaching School Hub

  • Our response as a Trust to the Climate Emergency

Role of the Trust Board Chair

Paul Carvin has been a Trustee since 2012 and Chair of the Trust Board since January 2015.  His expertise, energy and drive have been fundamental in the development of governance and our expansion from 3 to 8 schools. Whilst Paul will step down from the role of Chair in December 2021, he will remain on the Trust Board and continue to play a key role in governance.  We are all immensely grateful to Paul for the outstanding leadership he has provided over so many years and we are delighted that he will continue to work with us, as a Trustee and leading, in particular, our response to the Climate Emergency.

Paul will be succeeded as Chair from January 2022, by Colin Pearson.  Colin was for many years the Chair of Governors at Abbeyfields First School, and joined the Board in 2017, when Abbeyfields joined the Three Rivers.  Colin has a wealth of experience in school and Trust governance, knows all of our schools well and we are all looking forward to working with Colin to shape the next stage of our development as a Learning Trust.

As earlier mentioned, all those involved in the governance at the Three Rivers Learning Trust are volunteers.  They give their time and expertise freely to support each child and young person who is educated within the Trust and they are doing vitally important work.  Trustees and Academy Councillors are an essential part of the educational system and we are fortunate and grateful to have such strong governance guiding our work.

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