This guidance is designed to help anyone putting forward a school governor, trustee or clerk for a national honour maximise the effectiveness of their nomination. 

The honours system recognises people who have made significant achievements in public life or committed themselves to serving their community. Honours are a great way of recognising the achievements of ordinary school governors, trustees and clerks doing extraordinary things in their communities.

Who can be nominated?

Anyone can be nominated for an honour. This guidance is for those wanting to nominate governors, trustees or clerks working in the UK. But honours are available for a wide range of achievements and services. Only individuals can be nominated for an honour, you cannot nominate a board or school.

Who can nominate someone for an honour?

Anyone can make the nomination for an individual to receive a national honour but it does help if you can give a good overview of your nominee's work over time and demonstrate the impact they have had. You cannot nominate yourself for a national honour. 

What is the deadline?

There are two annual lists so there is no deadline. One list is published at New Year (end of December) and the other list is published for the Queen's Birthday (mid-June). It will usually take 12 to 18 months to process a nomination because of the background work undertaken by Department for Education officials. Ideally nominations should be made while the nominee is still in service and at least 12 months before they retire or step down.

How are they awarded?

Nominations for governors, trustees and clerks are assessed in the Department of Education. Those nominations which are considered strong enough are recommended to the relevant independent Committee, made up of a mixture of senior civil servants and independent members, which then decides which nominees should be recommended for approval to the Prime Minister and The Queen. The honours committee will decide the type of honour to be awarded (for example OBE or MBE).

Nominations have to pass many stages of assessment before being accepted. They are very competitive and there are a limited number – so the following information will help in make the strongest nomination possible.

How to make the nomination

Firstly, all honour nominations are strictly confidential. It important that you do not inform the nominee that you are putting them forward for an honour. All nominations are considered in strictest confidence and it is not fair to raise expectations in case an award is not made.

Nomination form

To nominate someone you need to complete an honours nomination form. You will give details on the individual you are nominating and your recommendation as to why they should receive an honour. For the recommendation you will be asked for details on:

  • The service for which you consider they should receive an honour (for example services to education)
  • Detailed information on the individuals posts and roles they have held
  • The impact of the nominee’s service on a particular field, group, community or sector
  • Why that person stands out from others giving a similar service
  • Any ways in which their contribution has been recognised elsewhere eg in the media, by awards, by professional/ interest groups.
Letters of support

To support the nomination you will need at least two letters to endorse the nominees contribution. These need to be from people who are familiar with the services of the individual. They can be part of the school or organisation the nominee is part of (such as fellow governor/trustee or senior leader), or someone who has been personally impacted by the contributions of the nominee.

What makes a successful nomination   

Honours are for outstanding achievement and are not long-service awards. It is useful to consider if your nominee has:

  • Made a difference to their community or field of work
  • Exemplified the best sustained and selfless voluntary service
  • Carried the respect of their peers
  • Changed things, with an emphasis on achievement

They are for those who have gone above and beyond in commitment and passion for their role eg being a school governor or trustee and are awarded to those who have made a very real contribution to governance and/or education.

It is important to provide as much information about the nominee as possible without simply listing every job or post they have held. You should accurately and vividly describe the contributions of the nominee and how their actions have had a significant impact on the education of the pupils in their school/trust, made a difference in their local authority area or community and/or in the wider governance or education sector.  

Nominations should include examples and evidence to support these statements. For instance, examples of how a governor/trustee has mentored others in their area or trust, sustained or improved Ofsted gradings or pupil performance data, or worked to support a local association or governance network.  

Other things to consider:

  • Length of service – long service is not a justification for an award, but awards are given to those who have made a substantial contribution in their roles, so you should make clear how long they have been active and the difference the have made.
  • Scale – what has the scale of their contributions been?  At a local, regional or national level? How many people/ schools/ pupils benefitted from their actions?
  • Context – what challenges and issues were faced by their school, trust or wider community? Explain how the nominee made a difference to these issues.

Get started

Further guidance
Make a nomination

Help from NGA

We are committed to encouraging and supporting the nomination of governance volunteers and professionals for honours. We will continue to update this guidance with further useful information and advice for making nominations. If you would like further information and support with your nomination please contact [email protected]

Honours are just one way to recognise and celebrate the contribution of governors, trustees and clerks. NGA is currently running a Visible Governance in Schools campaign to raise the profile of governance and the impact of good governance on schools. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved on the campaign page.

We also run our own awards for governing boards, clerks and governance professionals. You can find out more about our Outstanding Governance Awards on the awards page.

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