As part of the guidance on Commissioning high quality trusts, the Department for Education (DfE) published 5 pillars of academy trust quality. This sets out the 5 pillars of academy trust quality. The trust quality descriptions cover:

    • High-quality and inclusive education
    • School improvement
    • Workforce
    • Finance and operations
    • Governance and leadership

DFE have updated guidance for academy trusts around the governance pillar which is located in one place Academy trust governance guide – Guidance – GOV.UK ( This non-statutory guidance replaces the governance handbook 2019. As such, many previous guidance documents have been withdrawn. Diocese guidance documents (embedded below) have had links amended to reflect this.


Each trust has a governance structure which consists of members and trustees (also known as directors).

Trusts are founded by members and run by trustees. They have a general duty to exercise their powers to further the trust’s charitable object. In the majority of trusts this is “to advance for the public benefit, education in the United Kingdom”. This will be set out in the trust’s articles of association (Academy Trust Handbook 2023)

Members have powers:

    1. to appoint trustees, as set out in their articles of association.
    2. to remove any or all serving trustees if governance is failing, under the Companies Act.

There must be at least 3 members but  5 or more members are recommended.

Members of trusts that include church academies must also ensure that the religious character of the church academies is preserved and developed as part of ensuring the charitable objects of the academy trust deed are met.

Governance structures in church academies should reflect the diocesan strategy. This strategy:

    1. Establishes what is required to provide the best possible safeguard for church academies.
    2. Preserves the ability of the diocese to discharge its function under charity and company law.


For trusts with church academies, the diocese appoints a corporate member (DCM). Historically, this has been a diocesan officer. Due to capacity, the diocese is now appointing DCMs to act for the diocese.


The DCM may also appoint other members.


There is no specific guidance for trustees from the diocese as each trust operates differently, therefore, each trust’s articles should determine this role. However, there is a training package provided by the diocese for trustees to enable them to fulfil their role.