Multi Academy Trust Website Compliance Overview

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At Schudio we regularly get questions from happy users of our School Website Requirements Guide asking if we have any guidance more specifically for multi academy trusts. The aim of this multi academy trust website compliance overview is to provide a useful resource for trusts to use. What are the statutory requirements for your trust website? What about statutory requirements for websites more generally?

Multi Academy Trust Website Compliance Overview

Annual Accounts Information

The trust website must include the accounts information. The academy website requirements also list the annual accounts information as required content for the website. For full details on what should be included within the accounts information, and when and where it should be published see our Annual Accounts Information on Your Website blog post.

Individuals and Governance Arrangements

There are requirements specific for schools to publish on each of their websites. However, academy trusts must also publish details as outlined in the academies financial handbook (AFH). The specific requirements around what information should be published is listed below.

The trust must provide details of its governance arrangements in the governance statement published with its annual accounts, including what the board has delegated to its committees and, in MATs, to local governing bodies. The trust must also publish on its website up-to-date details of its governance arrangements in a readily accessible format, including:

  • The structure and remit of the members, board of trustees, its committees and local governing bodies (the trust’s scheme of delegation for governance functions), and the full names of the chair of each.
  • For each member who has served at any point over the past 12 months, their full names, date of appointment, date they stepped down (where applicable), and relevant business and pecuniary interests including governance roles in other educational institutions.
  • For each trustee and local governor who has served at any point over the past 12 months, their full names, date of appointment, term of office, date they stepped down (where applicable), who appointed them, and relevant business and pecuniary interests including governance roles in other educational institutions. If the accounting officer is not a trustee their business and pecuniary interests must still be published.
  • For each trustee their attendance records at board and committee meetings over the last academic year.
  • For each local governor their attendance records at local governing body meetings over the last academic year.

Additional Disclosures

The governance handbook adds to these requirements. It advises that, when publishing information about leaders of the trust, family relationships with material interests should also be disclosed:

It must also include any material interests arising from close family relationships between those involved in governance or between them and senior employees because such interests may increase the risk of:

  • An inappropriate concentration of control of a publicly funded service among a small number of related individuals.
  • A lack of safeguards against financial irregularity and the trust not being governed solely in its best interests.
  • Potential negative external perceptions and damage to the reputation of the organisation or schools in general.

As a rule, this information must be provided, with no exceptions. The DfE recommend that boards make it clear in their code of conduct that this information will be published on the website (and via the 'Get information about schools' service), and that each member of the trust leadership must provide it.

Readily Accessible Content

The governance handbook also requires that the board publish the overall governance arrangements they have put in place, in a 'readily accessible' form. The handbook defines 'readily accessible' as information on a webpage without the need to download or open a separate document.

Fortunately this information is likely to already be provided within the previous requirement from the academies financial handbook. However the highlight to follow here is the 'readily accessible' aspect of compliance.

For more details on writing and effective scheme of delegation for a multi-academy trust see section 5.6 of the governance handbook.

Admissions Information

Academy trusts are usually the admission authorities for the schools within their trust. As such they must adhere to the requirements for admission authorities. There are more specific requirements for the content of the admissions arrangements, and what they must adhere to in section 6.9 of the governance handbook and the school admissions code. However, in this article we are focusing on just the website aspect of admissions compliance.

  • Admission authorities must set admission arrangements annually, notify their LA and publish the arrangements on their website.
  • Admission authorities must consult publicly on changes to their admission arrangements .
  • Once admission authorities have determined their admission arrangements, they must notify the appropriate bodies and must publish a copy of the determined arrangements on their website displaying them for the whole offer year. (the academic year in which offers for places are made)
  • Final admission arrangements must be determined by 28th February each year. (Even where the arrangements have not changed from the previous year.)
  • Admission authorities for schools with a sixth form must ensure they have determined and published admission arrangements for entry into the sixth form, if they intend to admit external applicants.
  • Admission authorities must, as part of setting their admission arrangements, set a clear published admission number (PAN), which states the number of applicants they will admit where enough applications are received.

The Schudio Solution

One of the requirements for school websites is to publish the admissions information. And for almost every school website there is not a single best page to publish admissions information. But publishing the same documents in multiple places often leads to problems with the wrong document versions, or a mixture of versions being publicly available. Or at the very least additional administrative work.

The Schudio document management feature - available for all websites as part of our compliance studio software solves this problem with ease. Documents are centrally managed by the system can be displayed in multiple locations. With the trust package documents can even be displayed on multiple sites.

Privacy Policy and Data Protection

Compliance with data protection and the GDPR is another aspect of multi academy trust website compliance. Compliant processing of personal data is what actually achieves compliance. However demonstration of your compliance via policies, procedures and other documentation is a required step.

The key item to publish is your privacy policy. This should include details of the personal information you process, and the purposes for processing. Your privacy policy may also include details about the use of cookies on your website. Alternatively publish a dedicated page about cookies and their usage. You may also want to consider whether an SSL certificate is a requirement for your website. GDPR has a security principle of processing data that must be complied with.

If you'd like to learn more about GDPR do get in touch, or book onto our GDPR course.

Other website requirements

There are some specific requirements that companies should publish on business letters, order forms and websites. These are published as part of 'The Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008'. Consequently, these requirements are for every company!

The website (and business letters, and order forms) must include the following details:

  • Part of UK the company is registered. (E.g. England and Wales)
  • Registered number.
  • Registered office.

But importantly this information doesn’t need to be on every page - but it does need to be somewhere on your website to meet these requirements.

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