Welcome to the NGA research page. Here, you can find out about the latest NGA research projects, including our most recent publications and reports.

NGA is committed to ensuring that our outputs are supported by robust evidence and insight. Furthermore, we are committed to leading research projects which explore the impact of policy changes, or emerging themes in contemporary education, from a school governance perspective.

NGA research is used to inform NGA policy work, educate governors and trustees, and provide new and fresh insights to push forward positive change in schools. In particular, NGA’s research is used to:

  • Provide evidence and insight to inform cutting-edge guidance, consultancy, training and advice for governors and trustees. Whether it is used to help governing boards spend the pupil premium effectively, or put together a robust headteacher appraisal, NGA’s research is designed to provide practical insights for governors and trustees.
  • Lobby government officials and other stakeholder organisations involved in education. This is done by providing evidence and analyses for campaigns, such as our Funding the Future and Community MATs campaigns.
  • To raise the profile of school governance and represent their voice on a national stage. Through projects, such as the NGA/TES annual governance survey, NGA look to understand governors’ and trustees’ needs and translate these into actionable projects to effect change.

Below is a list of our published research. If you have any questions about NGA’s research, including how to get involved, please email the NGA Senior Research Lead, Tom Fellows, at

Read the latest NGA research publications

School governance in 2018: an annual survey by NGA in partnership with Tes

Date of publication: 18 September 2018

Synopsis: NGA has been running an annual survey, in partnership with Tes since 2011. Over 5,000 governors, trustees and academy committee members responded to this year's survey, sharing their views on the key issues facing schools as well as vital intelligence about the practice their governing boards are employing. The survey is also the only large scale source of information on the demographics of those governing schools, highlighting the challenge of ensuring governing boards are diverse, inclusive and reflect their communities. This report, written by NGA Senior Policy Officer, Fay Holland, explores the findings and their implications for governing boards, policy makers and NGA's own work. 

Click here for more information. 


Spotlight on Disadvantage: the governing board’s role in spending, monitoring and evaluating the pupil premium.

Date of publication: 04 July 2018

Synopsis: Since the introduction of the pupil premium in April 2011, there is little which recognises the role of the governing board in spending the pupil premium. More needs to be done to understand the impact of governance on supporting disadvantaged pupils. This research report, written by NGA’s Senior Research Lead,  Tom Fellows and NGA’s Advice Officer, Michael Barton, explores the governing board’s role in spending, monitoring and evaluating the pupil premium.

Click here for more information. 


Taking Headteacher Appraisal Seriously: A report on the current headteacher performance appraisal landscape in English schools.

Date of publication: 22 March 2018

Synopsis: Taking Headteacher Appraisal Seriously is a research paper written by NGA’s Senior Research Lead, Tom Fellows. The paper explores how schools are currently conducting headteacher appraisal, including the challenges they face and the obstacles they need to overcome to ensure an effective, robust and meaningful process is in place.

Click here for more information. 


In their own words: lessons learned by multi-academy trusts in their journey since creation (phase one).

Date of publication: 25 April 2018

Synopsis: As part of NGA’s commitment to learning more about MAT structures, NGA has put together a series of rich case studies focused on the experiences of those governing a range of multi-academy trusts (MATs). The lessons they have learned can inform those looking to form or join a MAT by shedding light on the approaches others have found productive and some common barriers to success.

Click here for more information. 


NGA/Tes governance survey.

Date of publication: Annually (September/October)

Synopsis: Each year, the National Governance Association (NGA), in partnership with Tes, surveys governors and trustees across England to understand the issue which matter the most to them. Overall, 5,338 governors, trustees and academy committee members shared their views in 2018, with the information used to inform NGA policy work and campaigns for the coming year.

Click here for more information. 


Time to Chair: How chairs spend their time.

Date of publication: 06 September 2016

Synopsis: This research looks at the time commitment required to be a chair of governors in an English school. The research drew upon 31 diaries completed by chairs of governors and 19 telephone interviews also carried out with chairs of governors. The chairs involved in the study spent, on average, one working day per week on governance duties. The study revealed some useful insights into what those governing spend most of their time doing and what can be done to alleviate the time burden upon these volunteers.

Click here for more information. 


Executive Headteachers: What’s in a name?

Date of publication: 08 July 2016

Synopsis: This research, conducted by the NGA, the Future Leaders Trust and the National Foundation for Educational Research, explores a new emerging layer of management in schools – the ‘executive headteacher’. Looking at the deployment, roles and responsibilities of executive headteachers, this research study found that the number of executive headteachers in England is rapidly increasing even though their remit and responsibilities are still largely undefined.

Click here for more information. 


The Move Beyond Effective: Key themes for local authority governor services from the 2013/14 school improvement inspections.

Date of publication: 10 February 2015

Synopsis: At a dedicated event hosted by the then Under Secretary of State for Education, Lord Nash, the National Governance Association (NGA) and the National Coordinators of Governor Services (NCOGS) launched the publication of two new reports entitled The Move Beyond Effective and Beyond Effective. Both reports take a detailed look at local authority school improvement (LASI) inspections conducted by Ofsted and including some important lessons which resonate closely with the Trojan Horse affair in Birmingham schools.

Click here for more information. 


The state of school governance in England 2014.

Date of publication: 15 May 2014

Synopsis: Led by the University of Bath, Education and Employers and the National Governance Association, in collaboration with several other education stakeholders, this research consisted of a survey of 7,713 governors and trustees. It looked to understand the school governance landscape in England – particular in response to policy changes introduced prior to 2014. Findings from this study highlighted the increased importance of school governors and trustees under the new education system and both the challenges of governing and of recruiting volunteers.

Click here for more information.


The Road to Federation: Governing bodies that consider joining federations and multi-academy trusts.

Date of publication: 20 December 2013

Synopsis: Part funded by the British Education and Leadership Management Association (BELMAS), these reports are the culmination of a one year research project involving 14 groups of schools that have considered creating a federation or MAT. The study looked at the reasons why governing bodies consider federation, who influences the decision, and what barriers are faced. There is a summary report that is publically available, and a full report that is available to members only.

Click here more information.


Current projects

Exploring the time it takes to chair a multi-academy trust (MAT)

Date of publication: Expected Spring 2019

Synopsis: Part funded by the British Education and Leadership Management Association (BELMAS), this research looks to explore the time it takes to chair a multi-academy trust (MAT) and what viable strategies can be employed by those in the role to use their time more efficently.

Click here for more information.


Get the latest education research news from Governing Matters

As part of the bi-monthly magazine, Governing Matters, NGA features a Research Matters section which focuses on research, analyses or reports from across the education sector – including work currently being produced by NGA.

The latest Research Matters features are outlined below. To access the full archive of Governing Matters publications click here.

September/October 2018: -

Fay Holland, Senior Policy Officer at the NGA, summarises the results from the 2018 annual NGA/TES survey. Click here to read the article.

July/August 2018: -

Tom Fellows, Senior Research Lead at the NGA, reports on the interim findings from the Spotlight on Disadvantage research project. Click here to read the article.

May/June 2018: -

Tom Fellows, Senior Research Lead at the NGA, summarises research from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research into the effect of policy changes on pupil outcomes. Click here to read the article.

January/February 2018: -

Professor Ron Hill and Dr Collin Forrest look at evidence from Northern Ireland on whether financial remuneration improves the quality of governance. Click here to read the article.

November/December 2017: -

Tom Fellows, Senior Research Lead at the NGA analyses the latest OECD report on education on looks at Education in the UK within an international context. Click here to read the article.


Research archive

As part of NGA’s weekly newsletter for members, research reports and analyses are summarised on a regular basis.

Below, the latest research articles featured in the newsletter are organised by date order to make it easier for governors and trustees to find the most relevent research.