The 9 characteristics of effective trust boards

Forum Strategy’s ‘Nine Characteristics of Effective Trust Boards’ forms the framework for our trust board induction sessions, ongoing training and external reviews of governance. They are:


  1. They recruit well
  2. They are ethical and fully understand their duties
  3. They stay strategic and focused on the ‘big picture’
  4. They focus on impact & measuring ‘the right things’
  5. They ensure clarity around governance structures and responsibilities
  6. They develop an effective relationship with the CEO
  7. They collaborate well, both internally and externally
  8. They are committed to their own learning and development
  9. They are supported by effective clerking and communicate clearly

(c) Forum Education Limited 2018;


In addition, our programmes and external reviews of governance are framed around the following competency areas:

  1. Setting vision and being strategic
  2. Ensuring accountability and clear and timely reporting
  3. Ensuring high quality training and development
  4. Leading people and managing relationships
  5. Overseeing efficient and effective structures
  6. Ensuring compliance

(c) Forum Education Limited 2018


Related resources:

Please note all resources (aside from external links) are copyright Forum Education Limited.


Recent articles:

Trustee recruitment
An article in the Charity Times magazine looks at trustee recruitment and the mistakes that are often made – what the author refers to as “the seven deadly sins of trustee recruitment” Further details can be found:


The role of the trustee in fundraising
This article suggests that there are lots of ways trustees can support a charity’s fundraising efforts, including: promoting a strong fundraising culture; making a donation; ensuring a mixed income; involving your company and/or colleagues; tapping into your own contacts network; and considering the long view. The article suggests that charitable organisations need to properly consider their long-term fundraising requirements, not just plans for the next year. It will be helpful for MAT trustees and leaders in considering where and how to focus their plans for securing additional income.

Further details can be found:


Effective board reports

This article on LinkedIn from the Charity Excellence Framework suggests the following actions to ensure board reports are more effective and less work (source: Charity Excellence Framework):

Further details can be found:



“Forum Strategy undertook a review of governance for us during spring 2018. We really valued the fact that they took a multi-layered approach to the review; spending time with our Trust Board to consider the characteristics of effective governance and to explain the purpose and process of the review, undertaking a survey with our trustees and then holding face-to-face conversations with a number of them; meaning that they were able to get to the core of the issues raised during the review. We have found the whole process really helpful and have valued the opportunity to learn from best governance practice both within and beyond education. We have found this and Forum’s recommendations for next steps invaluable in supporting both our trustees, executive team and academy leaders to reflect on how we continue to move forward and make a difference for all our pupils.”

Focus Trust Board, 2018


“The Isle Education Trust Board worked with Forum Strategy to ensure independent input and challenge for our Board evaluation.

The process was explained to all Directors at the beginning to ensure ‘buy in’ and to make clear the importance of the exercise.

Forum were ultimate professionals taking us through the process in a logical straightforward manner and ensuring that key themes were captured.

The timing for us was critical and led in to further strategy events and Trust-wide engagement. Through this exercise we were able to verify our strategy and ensure a relevant plan for the future. We will now move forward with confidence.”

Isle Trust Board, 2018


For more on our programmes and services for trust boards, please visit: Forum Strategy Brochure – Sept 2018