St Georges Church of England Academy

St George's
Church of England Academy

What we do

Effective and Efficient Governance at St George's CE Primary Academy 2023-2024

St George's CE Primary Academy is a member of the Durham & Newcastle Diocesan Learning Trust (D&NDLT).  The Board of Directors of the Trust has identified that each school in the Trust will have a dedicated committee to oversee the governance arrangements of the school on their behalf.  This committee is called the Academy Council and its members – Academy Councillors - work closely with the Head Teacher and the school’s leaders in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for all pupils.

The membership of the Academy Council is as follows:

Composition of Academy Council
(varies depending on VC or VA previously)

Membership 2023-2024

Elected staff member (at least 1)

Mr B Dobson

Head Teacher

Mrs J Skirving

Elected parent (min of 2)

Mrs G Herring-Sykes

Elected parent

Mrs C Tubelskis

Ex officio Foundation

Reverend A Smith


 Miss A Vernon


 Mrs P Weighell


 Mrs C Gray


 Mr R Sansom

Co-opted (max of 2)




The role of the Academy Council is to provide confident, strategic leadership and to create robust accountability, oversight and assurance for educational and financial performance. The Academy Council meets half-termly and its work reflects the Trust’s Scheme of Delegation that identifies the duties delegated to the Academy Council by the Board of Directors.

Councillors work very hard to ensure that they know what it is like to be a learner in the school and undertake a range of activity in relation to the three core functions of governance:

  1. Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.

The Academy Council helps to shape the vision for the school and councillors review this annually, as well as looking at the progress being made against the school’s aims.

The School Development Plan (SDP) identifies the school’s priorities for the year and the Academy Council is instrumental in working with the Head Teacher to develop this and then monitoring progress against the identified priorities for the year.

Councillors are linked to areas of the SDP and undertake a range of activity – meeting staff, talking to pupils, reviewing plans, looking at pupils’ work – so that they can see the progress being made against the priorities for themselves.

Councillors are also linked to other areas and aspects of school life – e.g. science, safeguarding, Pupil Premium, SEND - and this helps them to understand the school and enables them to build relationships with members of staff. This ensures that the decisions they make are based on a good knowledge of the school.

Councillors report on their activity to the meetings of the Academy Council so that all councillors are aware of what is going well and what is in need of development.

Councillors also identify and then manage any risks that might impact on the outcomes achieved by the school.

  1. Holding school leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the performance management of staff.

Councillors act as critical friends to the Head Teacher and are always striving to ensure that the school is doing the best it can for every pupil.

Councillors look at the information provided by the school on the progress and attainment of pupils and challenge the Head Teacher when performance appears to be uneven or inconsistent. They ask about the organisation of the curriculum and the quality of teaching in the school. They make sure that the school has a robust system in place for the performance management of staff. Councillors rely on the Trust to undertake the performance management of the Head Teacher on their behalf.

Councillors look at a range of external data and information to see how their school compares to local and national benchmarks. They also look at the reports of external partners about their school so that they have as wide a view as possible of how their school is performing.

  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and ensuring that money is well spent for the benefit of all pupils.

Councillors are involved in discussion about the projected budget for the year but the final decision on the school’s budget is taken by the Board of Directors. Councillors then receive regular updates on the progress of the budget for the year and challenge where there appears to be variations in what has been spent compared to what was expected to be spent.

Councillors also receive information about the school’s plan for spending its Pupil Premium grant and PE and Sport grant. The school provides regular updates on the impact of these plans to meetings of the Academy Council.

Impact of the work of the Academy Council

This is an exciting time of change at St George's and leaders are extremely ambitious for the future. Following a successful OFSTED (Feb 2023), the Academy Council have a good understanding of our school and are supportive of school leaders as we embark on a new journey.

As well as attending business meetings of the Academy Council, councillors also attend regular training and development sessions. These relate to either the development of the Academy Council as a whole or to the personal development of individual councillors. All councillors are expected to undertake a two-year cycle of Trust-identified training. Councillors can also access on-line training as members of the National Governance Association.  Newly appointed councillors receive a planned programme of induction support.

The Academy Council is always trying to improve what it does and an annual self-evaluation takes place at which councillors decide, in terms of governance, what has gone well during the year and what the areas of focus need to be for the following year. This is based on the criteria for effective governance identified in the Governance Handbook (DfE).

The Academy Council has the following as its areas of focus for 2023-2024:

  • To further develop individual Academy Councillors specific responsibilities in terms of carrying out regular and effective monitoring in school;
  • To continue to develop St George's effectiveness as a Church school;
  • To provide supportive challenge to school leaders as we move forward.

 Our Chair of the Academy Council is Mrs Gemma Herring-Sykes. Here is her overview of what we do as an Academy Council.

The role of the Academy Council is to provide strategic management, and to act as a "critical friend", supporting the work of the headteacher and other staff.

As chair of the Academy Council my role is to:

  • work with the headteacher to promote and maintain high standards of educational achievement
  • ensure that the Academy Council sets a clear vision, ethos and strategic direction for the school
  • with the Academy Council, hold the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and for the performance management of staff
  • with the Directors, ensure oversight of the financial performance of the school and effective use of the schools resources

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with me, I'm contactable via the office email address:

 Register of Attendance at meetings 2023-2024

Academy Council Members 28.9.23 16.11.23 18.1.24 29.2.24 9.5.24 20.6.24
Mrs G Herring-Sykes (Chair)  X
Mrs C Tubelskis (Vice-Chair) X
Mrs Judith Skirving X
Miss A Vernon



Rev A Smith



Mr B Dobson



Mrs P Weighell



Mrs C Gray



Mr R Sansom



Register of Attendance at meetings 2022-23 Academic Year

Academy Council Members 29.9.22 8.12.22


23.3.23 18.5.23 13.7.23
Mrs G Herring-Sykes (Chair)      X      X X X


Mrs C Tubelskis (Vice-Chair)      X      X     X X X X
Mrs Judith Skirving


     X X X X X
Miss A Vernon      X      X X A X X
Mr B Dobson      X      A X A X A
Mrs P Weighell      X      X X X X X
Mrs C Gray      X      X X X X X
Mr R Sansom      X      X X X X A

 Scheme of Delegation

Durham and Newcastle Diocesan Learning Trust

St. George's Church of England Academy is a member of the Durham and Newcastle Diocesan Learning Trust which is a company limited by guarantee (company number 10847279) and an exempt charity registered in England and Wales at The Cai Building Cable Dean Royal Quays North Shields Tyne and Wear NE29 6DE