New guide supports governing boards of schools and academies in being strategic


Ensuring clarity of vision and strategic direction is one of the three core functions of governing boards. To assist governors and trustees in their strategic role, the National Governance Association (NGA) and Wellcome have published Being Strategic: a guide for governing boards, three years after the popular original guide – a Framework for Governance – was released.

Following extensive feedback and consultation with governors, trustees and senior leaders, drawing on practical experience and real life examples, Being Strategic: a guide for governing boards offers a robust annual cycle for creating, monitoring and reviewing strategy. It provides advice, poses questions for governing boards on each stage of the cycle, and supports school leaders in taking a broad and long-term perspective.

With an evolution in governance over recent years – including the growth of multi academy trusts – there is now a diverse range of governance structures. Therefore, the guide has been written to offer leaders in all settings a framework that they can use to set a strategy for their organisation.

The guidance urges governing boards to look beyond narrow academic performance measures when monitoring the strategy stating ‘in the interest of pupils [the measures] must consider the whole education offer. Not all improvement priorities are quantitative and some of the most important outcomes will not lend themselves to simple quantitative measurement.’

An online toolkit containing further research and reading, including examples of high-level outcomes and the range of evidence that can be used to measure outcomes, complements the guide.

The original guide – one of a handful of resources available to governing boards on setting strategy – was downloaded in excess of 25,000 times and over 12,000 hard copies have been distributed via events over the course of three years.

Emma Knights OBE, chief executive at National Governance Association said: “Three years ago the first edition of this guide gave governing boards the confidence to focus on their responsibility of setting the vision and strategic priorities to improve their school. However, the mighty Ofsted is still so often seen as setting their expectations. NGA is encouraging governing boards and their senior leaders to listen more carefully to staff, pupils, parents, the community and employers, to have the courage of their convictions and use imagination to set a path that truly provides the best education possible. Our message to governing boards is to not be limited by national performance measures, but create ones relevant to their own school or trust. We need leaders who are not only visionary but have a strategy to realise that vision. Today's updated guidance on being strategic, drawing on governing board's experience, should support this to happen in a way which makes a difference to pupils.”

Hilary Leevers, head of education and learning at Wellcome said: “Effective governing boards can help transform a school by focusing on what’s most important. It can, however, be a challenge to identify and prioritise the things that truly matter. We are delighted to launch ‘Being Strategic’ to help governors set their strategy and monitor performance to see it through. With the help of this guide, we hope governors will gain confidence to be more strategic and see real impact on each and every pupil in their school.”

If you are running an event for governing boards or senior leaders (with more than 30+ delegates) and would like receive copies of the guide free of charge, get in touch with Shelby Roberts –

Access being strategic: a guide for governing boards here.