Governance Review

How should YOUR school’s governance improve?

Take a moment now to ask yourself:

  • Do your board members have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities?
  • Do your board members feel sufficiently informed and empowered to carry out their roles?
  • Do they provide support and constructive challenge to the Head and Senior Leadership Team?
  • Are your governors fully up to date and knowledgeable about such matters as safe-guarding, risk management and their legal duties or regulatory responsibilities?
  • Does your board have in place appropriate oversight and monitoring structures?
  • Is governance carried out efficiently?
  • Do you have the right people on (the) board?

If you have answered “no” or “not sure” to any of these questions, we may be able to help you.

Our Governance Reviews are tailored to the specific needs and desired outcomes of your school. As a first stage, we would usually ask you to outline any specific questions you would like the Governance Review to address. This will help to structure the review, which may include some or all of the following stages:

  • A review of your key governance documentation. 
  • A confidential survey circulated to key stakeholder groups, which may include an element of skills and experience auditing. The survey is followed by further discussions to probe the questionnaire responses.
  • The creation of a report of the findings, which may be presented solely in written form or presented to the Supervisory Board in person.
  • Recommendations for improvement are prioritised and grouped with suggestions for timeframes to ensure maximum impact. 
  • Training can be provided at the school, based on the findings of the report and desired next steps.

Please contact Durell Barnes, Head of Governance and Compliance, at

Our approach

Whatever we do for you will be tailored to address your needs and to suit your governance culture, budget and timeframe. After initial exploratory conversations, you might ask us to provide:

  • A light-touch consultation exercise, looking at the relationship between governance, leadership and management
  • An appraisal of the Head’s performance and of the Governors’ role vis-a-vis the Head
  • An in-depth review of governance processes, policies, responsibilities and structures
  • Confidential interviews with Board members and the school’s executive
  • Assessment of the ‘communications culture’ as displayed in preparation for meetings, the conduct of meetings and the harnessing of the benefits of team working
  • An introductory training workshop and presentation
  • Audit of the composition of the governing body, its committee structure and membership
  • Helping your board conduct an effective self-evaluation of its own performance and develop a culture of excellence

Our observations and advice are sometimes contained in a report or fed back in a conversation as part of a coaching approach, or it could be more suitable for us to deliver a presentation, followed by a series of training workshops. We agree this with you. However we communicate our findings, we answer every question, and we always tell the truth, politely and in a supportive way – even when it may not be palatable. Our clients often learn far more than they were expecting.


Our team

Governance is led by Durell Barnes

Former Deputy Director and Head of Communications at the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI) for over ten years, Durell previously spent over twenty years working in schools, latterly as deputy head. He works alongside a team of specialists with in-depth experience of school inspections, leadership and governance.

During his time at the Independent School Inspectorate (ISI), Durell was involved in the development of several new inspection frameworks. He liaised with the Department for Education, Ofsted, Local Authorities and schools about safeguarding issues and was responsible for quality assurance He has been involved in the consultation about and quality assurance of the current framework in his role as chair of the ISBA inspections oversight committee. Durell was the keynote speaker on implementing the new inspection framework at the Westminster Education Forum conference on priorities for the independent sector in January 2024. He has been a governor of maintained, independent charitable and for profit and international schools. He was for several years the chair of the Independent Schools Examinations board, is a trustee of the Emmott Foundation and serves on the advisory board of Ivy House and The Wellbeing Hub.

Learn more

Governors’ Update

FREE termly information service relevant to all UK schools

A regular update on current DfE, ISI and Ofsted initiatives alongside other national priorities in the UK. Receive high-quality executive summaries of key information with signposting to appropriate follow-up materials.



"The analysis, honestly and positively, shared our shortcomings and then, with warmth and understanding, suggested steps forward. We would certainly work with RSAcademics in the future and can recommend them without hesitation."

Dr David Burnett, Headmaster, The Royal School Dungannon

Get in touch

Email Durell Barnes, Head of Governance & Compliance, at

Call Durell on +44 (0)1858 467449