The Story of John, Who Didn’t Follow his Own Rules and Was Mauled By a Clerk

Verses inspired by Hilaire Belloc’s poem: “Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion” ……

There was a man whose name was John.
He chaired the board that he sat on.
His views on governance carried weight
Which prompts the tale I now relate.

You know – at least you ought to know
For I have often told you so –
Your website’s where you must record
The info on your governing board.

That’s where the public get to see
Who’s on the Trust and LGB.
Committee structures, names of chairs,
And any governor/staff “affairs”….

For those that are not maintained schools
The Financial Handbook* sets the rules.
I read that handbook through and through
To know what academies all must do.

An annual statement should set the scene
Describing successes that there’ve been.
How have the governors and the trustees
Used their professional expertise?

Now, this was John’s especial foible –
He held that amateurism was completely avoidable.
But on one inauspicious night (14th October 2015)
I chanced upon his own website.

I’d barely clicked a link, when “Plop!”
Into my lap a gaffe did drop.
A pdf! Oh dear, oh dear!
That info isn’t very clear.

Why not on its own webpage?
I pondered in disappointed rage.
Though very late I then had to try
To find which aspects did comply.

Bit by bit, the dreadful truth
Revealed itself. It was forsooth –
They don’t comply with all the rules
Promoting transparency in schools!

Now just imagine how it feels
To find that even Homer sleeps.
I checked in vain for office terms,
Appointment dates and links with firms.

Oh John! I cry (for he is Chair
And oversees the governance there)
Should you not seek to demonstrate
To others what you legislate?

When I informed him (by email on 17th October 2015) of the lapse,
He seemed unconcerned about the gaps.
In fact, responses came there none
To my helpful suggestions of what should be done.

The staff at Pimlico said, “Thanks!”
And quickly rectified the blanks.
And though they feature in this verse
It could have turned out so much worse.

*See Paragraph 2.5.2 of



What’s all this about?

Lord Nash was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System on 14 June 2017. He served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools from January 2013 to June 2017.  In this role, he drew up the legislation around publication of information about governance in schools and academies.

Lord Nash is also Co-Chair of Pimlico Academy. When I visited the school’s website back in 2015, I noticed that much of the required information was not in place. Despite my writing to Lord Nash to draw his attention to this, no action was taken until I contacted the school direct. At this point, the various gaps were rectified. However, it does suggest that the board of governors, under the chairmanship of Lord Nash, were not actively or effectively monitoring this aspect of the school’s legal duties ….


Academies must abide by the requirements of the Academies Financial Handbook ( )

In relation to the publication of information about governance, paragraph 2.5.2 says:
In the interests of transparency, an academy trust must publish on its website up-to-date details of its governance arrangements in a readily accessible format. This must include:
• the structure and remit of the members, board of trustees, its committees and local governing bodies, and the full names of the chair of each (where applicable)
• 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 (in accordance with the trust’s articles), and relevant business and pecuniary interests including governance roles in other educational institutions
• 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”

(NB Academies must also publish a governance statement within their annual accounts, and the annual accounts MUST then be published on the trust’s website.

“1.5.14 – The board of trustees must provide details of the academy trust’s governance arrangements in the governance statement published within its annual accounts. Trusts producing audited accounts for the first time must include in their governance statement what they have done to review and develop their governance structure, and composition of the board of trustees. Established trusts should also include an assessment of the trust’s governance, including a review of the composition of the board in terms of skills, effectiveness, leadership and impact”


“1.4.5 – It is a condition of academy trusts’ company and charitable status that they must file their annual accounts with Companies House for public access, and provide a copy of the accounts to anyone who requests them. Trusts must also publish the annual accounts on their website no later than the end of January following the financial year to which the accounts relate.”)

“Readily accessible”?  This term isn’t defined within the wording of the AFH paragraphs above, but a parallel set of requirements for maintained schools does specify  that the information must be shown on a web page, and not within any document that has to be downloaded.

Verses inspired by ...

Jim, Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo–
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know–or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so–
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
Now this was Jim’s especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!

He hadn’t gone a yard when–Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted “Hi!”

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
“Ponto!” he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion’s name),
“Ponto!” he cried, with angry Frown,
“Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!”
The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper’s Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:–
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, “Well, it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!”
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James’s miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

Hilaire Belloc

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