What is a Trustee?

Trustees are responsible for governing a charitable company and directing how it is managed and run. Trustees must also ensure that the Trust complies with all legal and statutory requirements. Trustees should seek the advice of the Board’s governance professional and other professional advice as appropriate.

Trustees work together to carry out their core functions:

  1. ensuring there is clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
  2. holding Executive Leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils and the performance management of staff.
  3. overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

NGA recognises the following as the fourth core function of governance:

  1. ensuring the voices of stakeholders are heard.

The Trust Board’s strategic responsibilities

The Trust Board works closely with their senior Executive Leader. Senior Executive Leaders are responsible for day-to-day operational management of the Trust and its schools, whereas the role of the Board is strategic. As such, Trustees are responsible for:

  • determining the mission, values and long-term ambitious vision for the Trust
  • deciding the principles that guide Trust policies and approving key policies.
  • appointing and appraising the senior Executive Leader and making pay recommendations.
  • working with senior leaders to develop a strategy for achieving the vision.
  • ensuring that stakeholders are involved, consulted and informed as appropriate.
  • ensuring that all schools in the Trust deliver a broad and balanced curriculum such that pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their education and adult life.
  • taking ownership of the Trust’s financial sustainability and ensuring effective resource management across the Trust.
  • agreeing the Trust’s staffing structure and keeping it under review to ensure it supports delivery of the strategy.
  • ensuring robust risk management policy and procedures are in place and that risk control measures are appropriate and effective.

Monitoring and evaluating Trust Performance

Trustees must monitor the priorities that have been set to ensure progress is being made by:

  • measuring the Trust’s impact and progress towards its strategic objectives.
  • ensuring the required policies and procedures are in place and the Trust is operating effectively in line with these policies.
  • holding the senior Executive Leader to account for standards, financial probity and compliance with agreed policies.
  • evaluating relevant data and feedback provided by senior Executive Leaders and external reporting on all aspects of Trust performance.
  • asking challenging questions of the senior Executive Leader in order to hold them to account.
  • ensuring that there are policies and procedures in place to deal with complaints effectively.

Contribution to the Trust Board

Trustees should ensure that they are making a positive and meaningful contribution to the Board by:

  • attending meetings (typically 6 full Board meetings each year), reading papers and preparing questions for the senior Executive Leader in advance.
  • establishing and maintaining professional relationships with senior Executive Leaders and colleagues on the Board of Trustees.
  • getting to know schools within the Trust, including visiting occasionally during school hours.
  • undertaking induction training and developing knowledge and skills on an ongoing basis.

In Trusts with local governance arrangements

In most medium-sized and larger Multi Academy Trusts, there will be some form of governance below the Trust level. In such cases, Trustees are responsible for:

  • ensuring that the Trust’s governance structure meets the needs of the Trust.
  • agreeing clear schemes of delegation, outlining the responsibilities delegated to the senior Executive Leader and the responsibilities of the Board and academy committees.
  • ensuring effective communication channels are in place.


Trustees should receive out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of fulfilling their role as Trustee and NGA recommends that a Board of Trustees should have such an expenses policy. Payments can cover incidental expenses, such as travel and dependency care, but not loss of earnings.