Release date: 23/05/2019

Eighteen governing boards and clerks had their significant achievements recognised at the Outstanding Governance Awards on 21 May at the House of Commons. The biennial awards, organised by the National Governance Association (NGA), recognise the very best of school governance practice and the hard work of school governors, trustees and clerks in making a substantial and valuable contribution to the education of children and young people.

Outstanding clerk to a governing board

Our first award celebrated the integral role of the professional clerk to the effectiveness of the governing board.

Winning the award for guiding her board on the school’s journey from requiring improvement to the formation of a federation, was Kelly Goddard for service to The Affinity Federation in Coventry. Kelly’s practice was deemed by the judges to be outstanding not only in the context of the school’s journey, but as an agent of systemic governance development too. Our second winning clerk was Lin Dykes for service to Dover Grammar School for Girls in Kent. Judges appreciated how Lin’s proactivity, experience and drive have helped the board to continue to challenge itself and develop its way of working to explore new opportunities.

Recognising the high-quality of the finalists, the judges’ opted to present highly commended awards to three of the clerks – Carole Booker for service to South Orpington Learning Alliance Multi-Academy Trust (Bromley), Barbara Gerding for service to Meridian Community Primary School (East Sussex) and Michaela Savage for service to Exmouth Community College (Devon).


(L) Kelly Goddard with Lord Agnew                                  (R) Lin Dykes with Lord Agnew

Outstanding governance in a single school

Winning the outstanding governance in a single school award was James Brindley Academy in Birmingham. This board has driven significant root and branch reform of the academy since it was placed in special measures by Ofsted in early 2015, and judges were unanimous that the trust board has delivered a complete metamorphosis in terms of ethos, culture and community. The changes the board presided over have been immense and the impact on pupils undeniable, enriching the opportunities for some of the most vulnerable pupils in Birmingham.

The governing board of James Brindley Academy with Lord Agnew

Judges chose to highly commend three finalists – Copthall School in Barnet, Eltham Church of England Primary School in the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Hoe Valley School in Surrey. Bexton Primary School and Nursery in East Cheshire and Rhodes Avenue Primary School in Haringey were recognised as finalists in this category.

Outstanding governance in a multi academy trust

Both finalists were announced as winners of this award, which accounts for the different challenges and opportunities in governing a group of schools.

Governance is very much seen as an integral part of the culture of our first winner the Co-op Academies Trust. The judge was impressed by the trust’s clear and unique vision and values, which align closely with the principles of its sponsor and form the basis of the trust wide strategic plan. The commitment and willingness of the trust board to engage with those governing at a local level was notable.  The Evolve Trust in Mansfield was the second winner of award. The judge was impressed by the trust’s honesty and openness about the challenges it faces, and the flexibility of its approach to a developing sector whilst maintaining a clear emphasis on vision and strategy. It was evident that there is a unique approach from those governing and leading in that the trust seeks to actively contribute to a much bigger system, while not losing sight of the needs of existing stakeholders.


(L) The board of Co-op Academies Trust with Lord Agnew    (R) The board of the Evolve Trust with Lord Agnew

Outstanding vision and strategy

Our final award recognised a board that has an inspiring vision and is able to demonstrate how it is effective in practice.

The winner of this award – the Federation of Cherry Oak School and Victoria School with Victoria College in Birmingham – has transformed provision for young people with profound and multiple learning difficulties through the establishment of an institution which allows young people to fulfil their right to a college education. The board are passionate and committed, and judges were impressed by the dedication of the trustees in upholding their bold vision to create a new education offer to bridge the provision gap for young people post-19.

The board of the Federation of Cherry Oak School and Victoria School

Receiving a highly commended award was Little Gaddesden Church of England Primary School in Hertfordshire. Recognised as finalists were the boards of Eastrop Infants and Southfield Junior partnership in Swindon, Glebe Academy in Stoke-on-Trent and Richardson Dees Primary School in North Tyneside.

Download a copy of the awards programme.

Lord Agnew, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the School System, who presented the awards, said “Every good school needs strong governance and this does not always receive the recognition that it should. I worry that too often the clerks’ contributions don’t seem to get their fair share of the limelight. They are often an afterthought or not mentioned. The role of the governance professional should add value to the board and its work. Clerks need to be recognised as the asset they are, or can be… Good and effective governance must be at the heart of every school or trust. It should promote a culture where everything you do aims to fulfill your school or trust’s vision. Where the children you support are at the centre of your board’s decision-making.”

Emma Knights, chief executive of NGA said “The commitment and contribution of those governing our schools is often overlooked, their hard work usually carried out behind closed doors. So NGA’s Outstanding Governance Awards is a fabulous opportunity to celebrate the very best in school governance practice. The achievements of all our finalists, and especially our winners, are significant, clearly making a positive impact on the children and young people in their schools and on their community."

Search for #NGAawards on Twitter to see live coverage and reaction from the awards. Our media partner Schools Week will also report on the event.

Being able to identify and share examples of good governance practice is one of the key impacts of the awards and many of the finalists will be telling other governors, trustees and clerks about their achievements and experiences in future editions of Governing Matters.

Awards Event Photography by Neilson Reeves Photography

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