Emma Knights, chief executive, NGA

Author: Emma Knights, chief executive, NGA

18/10/2019 11:58:41

Since NGA’s inception free conferences have been part of our membership offer, and NGA’s board of trustees will defend that tirelessly. NGA continues to grow – both in terms of our membership and our Learning Link customers. One of our guiding principles is value for money for the schools who join: and members can currently tell us now what they think of that along with all of NGA’s membership services in our annual survey.

I hope NGA is an organisation which hangs on to what is good: free attendance at events, but still moves with the times. Our membership is open to all types of state schools in England, and we have information, advice and expertise relevant to each. Our Annual Governance Survey showed whatever the type of school, the top issues of concern to most governing boards in 2019 are balancing the budget and staff workload and welfare, followed by SEND.  Our Annual conference on 16th November has picked up on two of those issues in particular and we are pleased to welcome Professor Adam Boddison from NASEN and Sinéad McBrearty from the Education Support Partnership to give keynotes and answer questions. I will open the conference with an attempt to put all things school governance into context and perspective, and we will close with the latest on staying strategic with an expert from another sector: Caroline Copeland from Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness. NGA is always in the business of learning from others. These are topics relevant to everyone governing in schools.

A bit of a historical quirk, but we call the conference we hold in mid-November our annual conference because it has NGA’s AGM attached. The board decided three years ago that this conference would always be held in Birmingham, the home of school governance! And our summer conference, held in June with lots of workshops, alternates between London and Manchester. In addition we also hold an annual clerks conference in the Spring term in Birmingham, but other events for clerks alternative between London and the North. Plus as from 2020 we will be holding annual regional conferences, not every 18 months.

However NGA has a large academy membership; even though we only began recruiting MATs as opposed to single school’s governing boards a few years ago and that number is growing every month. We know that governing a MAT is more complicated than governing a single school: we set out the changes this term in Moving MATs forward: the power of governance. Three years ago we responded to the request for ways of sharing practice, and set up the Community MATs Network, named by members to highlight their commitment to their school’s communities. That has grown considerably and so on 15 November NGA is holding our first ever MAT governance conference: free and open to all those governing within a MAT, however small or big, and those professionals supporting or working with governance, whether as a governance manager, a Chief Operating Officer or a Chief Executive. NGA is pleased to be helping to increase the governance knowledge both amongst those who volunteer but also across the sector more widely. We have an absolute great line up and will be covering many of the aspects of MAT governance we know take time to get right: Developing your executive; Vision and culture; Stakeholder and Community Engagement; Collaboration in MATs.

Come and learn from your peers and NGA’s work on MAT governance which is second to none. This Friday MAT conference the day before our annual conference will here on in be part of the NGA year.

We are not charging you to attend, but we understand that you have to find the time and time is especially precious when you are volunteering. There are also expenses, travel and perhaps a hotel for those of you attending both events. Almost all schools have a volunteer expenses policy, but very few pay anything out under it. Volunteers don’t ask, but that does put up barriers for those not able to self-fund and also for attending conferences away from the locality. So today we are putting out a request: schools and trusts, dust down those volunteer expense policies and make sure you reimburse all those who travel to attend either of these NGA conferences. Please support your volunteers to take up this invaluable CPD.

Book for the annual conference and AGM

Book for the MAT conference

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