Governance Documents


Overview of Trust Governance

Trusts exist to advance education for the public good.  

The government’s vision is for every school to be part of a family of schools in strong Trusts. The government recognises that the Trust model is very effective and goes much further in promoting shared practice than other collaborative structures, such as federations or alliances; and strong Trusts can swiftly direct resources to allow focus to remain on teaching and learning. The government also notes that Trusts, and Groups, have capacity to go further, supporting other education providers to share and implement the latest evidence-based practice, and to facilitate better professional development to improve teaching and standards for all.


“The governance duty is, above all, to drive relentless ambition for the young people served by our schools system, whatever the circumstances”. Baroness Berridge (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools). 

Effective Trust governance is about:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction 
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff 
  • Overseeing the financial performance and making sure its money is well spent.


About Suffolk Academies Trust

Suffolk Academies Trust (the “Trust”) is a nationally recognised multi-academy trust specialising in post-16 education in the east of England. Established in 2015, the Trust currently runs two centres:

  • Abbeygate Sixth Form College (ASFC) in Bury St Edmunds
    • ASFC opened in 2019 and continues to grow and now educates over 1,000 students each year, with students travelling from Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Norfolk to study academic courses in its state-of-the-art facilities.
  • One Sixth Form College (OSFC) in Ipswich
    • OSFC opened in 2010 and has grown year-on-year and now educates over 2,250 students each year, with students travelling from across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk to study both academic and vocational courses in its state-of-the-art facilities. OSFC is also the only Outstanding sixth form college in Suffolk.

with its headquarters in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

The Trust is sponsored by West Suffolk College (WSC) a leading further education college in the east of England.

Mission, Vision and Strategy

The Trust and WSC operate under a collaboration agreement and have a strategic alliance to work together as the Eastern Colleges Group (the “Group”).  

The Group has a common vision to “deliver a world-class, inspirational life-long learning journey that drives prosperity and wellbeing for all in our communities. At the heart of this is progression and supporting students to the next stages of their lives by focusing on: 

Alongside their aspirations, learners have personal, practical realities that can become barriers for learning. Everything is underpinned by our wraparound support that helps address challenges and find solutions so that no student is left behind through circumstances that are beyond their control.”  

Our Group approach focuses on joining up education by looking at commonality and areas for collaboration (removing inefficient competition and focusing on best practice to benefit all) to best support students and efficiently pool resources and expertise, to provide outstanding vocational and academic education to students throughout their lifetime across the east of England. 

Our Group supports pre-16 education (i.e. primary and secondary education, as well as their teachers) and other education providers to facilitate better professional development and implement the latest evidence-based practice to improve teaching and standards, and delivers education to our adult community (i.e. post compulsory education) with multiple adult centres across the east of England: 

  • basic qualifications (from Entry Level and beyond)
  • university qualifications (from Levels 4, 5 and 6) with leading education partners including University of East Anglia, University of Suffolk, and Pearson
  • industry specific skills (short courses to support their progression whilst in-work)
  • tailored programmes to support requalification or re-entry into the workplace
  • hobby based skills (i.e. pottery, baking, arts, etc.)

The Eastern Colleges Group helps shape and deliver education from primary through to those accessing
University, Apprenticeships (higher and degree) and professional development in the workplace. We also
support those people who simply have a passion for learning.

Our aspirational primary and secondary school programmes, the Escalator programmes, help bring together education at all levels and
engage hundreds of young people each year. At Sixth Form and Higher Education, we directly enable over 15,000 students across the region
to access the courses and connections they need to give them unparalleled regional, national and global opportunities.

Operational Structure

Since the Trust was established, the Trust has operated with a common CEO, CFO and Clerk to its sponsor, WSC. This has progressed in the fullness of time, leading to an ever more efficient and agile Group. Group leads and their specialist teams now oversee central infrastructure functions, and teaching and learning staff across the Group regularly work together to share and implement the latest evidence-based practice to improve teaching and standards for all. We now operate as one Group institution with multiple sites. 

The Trust Board recognises the value of the Group and in June 2022 noted that “the strategic alliance and collaborative relationship has been integral to the success and development of the Trust (as reflected in the recent of Ofsted reports of the colleges within the Trust) and has enabled the Trust and West Suffolk College to establish and co-develop the Group as a highly successful integrated regional education group”. 

The Group operational structure can be found here 

Governance Structure

Since the Trust was established, the governance structures of the Trust and WSC’s Board (Corporation) have been closely aligned to maximise the benefit the Trust receives from its sponsor (WSC) and to best support our strategic alliance.  

To this day, the Trust Board and Corporation have a very similar governance structure and, though the membership is different, the Trust Board and Corporation operate with common Chairs (across their Boards and Committees, except the Audit and Risk Management Committee which remains independent) and with common agendas and KPIs being considered.  

The Trust operates using the following governance structure: 

Terms of Reference

Whilst the Trust has ultimate responsibility for all governance matters, in accordance with its Articles of Association it may delegate certain responsibilities. Detailed information on how the Trust delegates its responsibilities; the roles of Members, Trustees, Committee members, Executive and the terms of reference of the Board and its Committees can be found in the Trust’s Standing Orders and Scheme of Delegation.  

In addition to Members, Trustees and Committee members; the Trust also has Trustee Leads (responsible for oversight of a key statutory responsibility such as Safeguarding) and Governance Links (responsible for oversight of an area of operation across the Trust). 

Governance Meetings

The Trust’s schedule of meetings can be found here. The Board determines the membership of each Committee, based on the skillset required by the Committee and the skillsets held by the individual. Meetings are run as hybrid meetings (i.e. with the option for virtual or physical attendance). Papers are circulated in advance (7 days prior for Board and Committee meetings, and 14 days prior for Members meetings) by the Clerk. Papers and minutes are stored and available on GovernorHub. 

Twice a year (in January and May), everyone involved in governance at both the Trust and its sponsor (WSC) come together physically to discuss the strategy of the respective institutions and for the Group overall. In preparation for this annual Strategic Conference, the Trust and its sponsor (WSC) hold monthly virtual Briefing Strategy Seminars which discuss strategic issues affecting our sector, region, and/or community.  

In addition to governance and strategy meetings, everyone involved in governance is expected to participate in induction meetings (when new in post) and training sessions (throughout their term of office) to keep up to date with the latest information, guidance and best practice. 

Key Policies

Role Descriptors

Key Information



Purpose / Summary

Mandatory / Advisable

SAT’s Articles of Association

Describes the governance framework and requirements of the Trust. 

Mandatory reading

SAT’s Code of Conduct

Describes the standards of conduct and accountability which are expected of Members, Trustees and Committee members, including any legal and ethical duties.

Mandatory reading

The Seven Principles of Public Life

(also known as the Nolan Principles) Describes the principals by which all people involved in governance must uphold.

Mandatory reading

SAT’s Key Policies (above)

Describes the governance structure of the Trust and how responsibility is delegated

Mandatory reading

SAT’s Annual Report and Financial Statements

Describes the Trust’s financial accounts for the previous academic year and summarises the Trust’s performance, objectives and strategy, and its compliance.

Mandatory reading

Governance Handbook

Describes the government’s vision and priorities for effective governance of Trusts.

Advisable reading

Academy Trust Handbook

Describes the governance and financial responsibilities of Trusts

Mandatory reading

SAT’s Ofsted Reports

Describes the outcome of Ofsted inspections including their judgements on (1) quality of education, (2) behaviour and attitudes, (3) personal development, (4) leadership and management; and areas for development.

Mandatory reading

Academy Trust Governance – Structure and Roles Descriptors

Describes the roles and responsibilities within the typical academy trust governance structure.

Advisable reading

Competency Framework for Governance

Describes the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for effective governance in Trusts

Advisable reading

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Describes the governance responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of children

Mandatory reading

Education Inspection Framework

Describes the process of Ofsted inspections including the method by which it makes its judgements on (1) quality of education, (2) behaviour and attitudes, (3) personal development, (4) leadership and management; and areas for development.

Advisable reading

ASFC and OSFC’s Ofsted Reports

Describes the outcome of Ofsted inspections including their judgements on (1) quality of education, (2) behaviour and attitudes, (3) personal development, (4) leadership and management; and areas for development.

Mandatory reading

ASFC and OSFC’s Annual Self-Assessment Report and Quality Improvement Plan

Describes the College’s academic quality and outcomes for the previous academic year and the areas for further development for the current academic year.

Mandatory reading

Useful Links

  1. Glossary – National Governance Association (
  2. How to guide – GovernorHub (