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On Tuesday 5 September 2017, the National Governance Association held the Outstanding Governance Awards at the Terrace Pavilion, House of Commons. The awards are held every two years to celebrate the unique and inspiring contribution that school governors, trustees and clerks make every day to schools across the country.

Lord Nash, Parliamentary under Secretary of State for the School System with ministerial responsibility for school governance presented the awards. Lord Nash commented: 

"I was delighted to be part of the NGA outstanding governance awards event today. These awards showcase and remind us of the huge importance of governance – we couldn’t run our school system without the support of hundreds of thousands of governors and trustees who give up their time voluntarily, and along with clerks, make such a difference in what is not an easy job."

Editor of Schools WeekLaura McInerney, delivered a speech to attendees. Commenting on the event, she said:

“Governors are the secret powerhouse of schools strategy so, as ever, it is only right their hard work is recognised. And though no one becomes a governor in order to win awards, it is fitting that the NGA gives them out anyway.”

Awards were presented to finalists in following categories:

  • Outstanding clerk to a governing board
  • Outstanding governance in a single school
  • Outstanding governance in a multi academy trust or federation
  • Outstanding vision and strategy

Outstanding clerk to a governing board

The first award celebrated the work undertaken by clerks and was judged by Mandy Parsons and Stephen Adamson. The judges were looking for: good organising skills, a thorough understanding of what the role and functions of a governing board are, knowledge of the law as it relates to governance, an ability to get on well with people – especially in the key relationships with the chair and head, the ability to be the governing board’s critical friend, and something special that they have brought to the governing board beyond the basics. The winner of this award was:

Winner - Angie Marchant from Colham Manor Primary School, Hillingdon


Angie has been an instrumental factor in turning Colham around from a position of weakness and uncertainty to one of strength and confidence. She provides an excellent service with meticulous and organised paperwork. She supports her governing body with information, advice on matters of law and good practice examples that enable governors to challenge the school leadership in the right areas.

NGA also awarded special commendations to Sylvia Baldwin of the Bligh Federation, Kent and Fiona Stagg of Glebe Academy, Stoke-on-Trent, Steve Vale of Reading School, Reading and Sally Wood of the Holsworthy Area Federation, Devon for the pivotal role they play in supporting the work of their governing boards.

Outstanding governance in a single school

The second award was for outstanding governance in a single school where governance has: improved significantly over time, successfully overcome challenging circumstances or financial difficulties, successfully led a specific change that had an impact on the school and/or contributed to improvement in the wider schools sector. The two judges, Duncan Haworth and Siddique Hussain selected seven excellent finalists, all of whom also demonstrated great commitment, skill, teamwork and clarity of direction. The judges selected three winners and one runner up in this category: 

Winner - Fairfield Park Lower School, Central Bedfordshire


Fairfield Park Lower School opened in 2007 as part of a new housing development. The governing board has developed a vision and ethos by working collaboratively with the local community and the local authority. The head teacher is a National Leader of Education and the chair is a National Leader of Governance. Since the school opened the governing board has also evolved. It developed processes and procedures to keep informed about the school. The governor’s annual plan is a key document providing the framework and agenda for meetings.

Winner - Millennium Primary School, Greenwich


Millennium Primary Schools is ambitious for results, governors have worked tirelessly, propelling leadership forward and holding them to account. The board has ensured that expectations are very high and that every child has a rich, well-rounded, exciting experience at school. The board has trained to monitor school development, progress and impact. The board learned to challenge and support each other and the senior leadership team. Their effect has been to help lift the school from the bottom in terms of attainment in Greenwich to the top in 2016.

Winner - Sir John Barrow School, Cumbria


Sir John Barrow School has a very strong governing board who are able to set the long-term strategy of the school with a hardworking and thorough approach to governance. A key plank in ensuring their capability is the engagement of stakeholders. The governors can demonstrate excellent interaction with school pupils, parents and staff. The board runs termly drop in session for parents and carers and communicate regularly via governor newsletters and annual parent survey. The school has set up and runs a local chairs’ cluster, operating across a network of 15 local primary schools.

Runner up - Holmes Chapel Primary, Cheshire East 


The governing board has highly focused leadership by the chair, and all governors play a significant role in the life of the school. The vision along with the ethos and overarching aims were developed with the whole staff team. Governors and staff meet annually to evaluate the school’s performance and the school is a national support school and leads a local “good to outstanding” group.

Outstanding governance in a multi academy trust or federation

The third award was outstanding governance in a multi academy trust or federation, where governance has: improved significantly over time, successfully overcome challenging circumstances or financial difficulties, successfully led a specific change that had an impact on the school, contributed to improvement in the wider schools sector and/or used governance structure in an innovative way that has improved the work of the board. The judges selected one winner and one runner up: 

Winner - The Spring Partnership Trust, Bromley, Kent


The Spring Partnership Trust is an outward looking and self-reflective trust board that takes strategic planning seriously. Trustees believe that collaboration through supporting others is the best way to develop and maintain excellence. After consultation, the directors decided to set an ambitious strategy focused on improving and growing a group of schools – exploiting the opportunities of the group model to develop staff and help other local children. Even though the trust is relatively young, trustees have used their experience of setting up a MAT to build staff capability and learn from others. They have developed new methods to use and evaluate Pupil Premium funding, leading to the Pupil Premium Award in 2016. The trustees are committed to reviewing their own practice and ensuring that the future of the board is not compromised by being too reliant on one or two individuals.

Runner up - CORE Education Trust, Birmingham


CORE was founded in March 2015 as a response to the so-called Trojan horse crisis in Birmingham. Since then, the CEO, members and trustees have overseen complete reformation of governance as well as the leadership within each school in the Trust. Trustees have instigated new policies and procedures to secure financial and governance compliance and worked hard to rebuild and ‘reimagine’ ethos, vision and strategy. Trustees have ensured that schools rated as in special measures are now good. The trustees have ensured that the schools have moved from introspection to openness and see themselves as the heart of an outward facing, proud and modern community. The board is able to critically review itself and make the necessary changes to ensure trustees provide the breadth of expertise for the future direction of the trust.

Outstanding vision and strategy

Our final category was for a governing board with an outstanding vision and strategy. The selected finalists could demonstrate how progress is being made towards achieving that vision with a clear strategy in place. They also demonstrated a methodical and clear commitment to strategy development, shape the educational offer at their school/MAT or federation, engaged the school community in developing their vision and strategy and made it clear what they expect the children to have left the school having learned. The judges selected one winner and one runner up:

Winner - Nexus Multi Academy Trust, Rotherham


Nexus Multi Academy Trust is a truly forward looking trust. Nexus was formed in 2016 and has formulated a mission statement, clearly stated its values and has a succinct vision with a limited number of key priorities. Its outcomes are known as the ‘Big 5’. They are clearly measurable and all focus on pupils being prepared for life beyond school. They are underpinned by a clear central direction, with systems and plans already in place for the schools’ development. The trust has horizon scanned with honesty and realism and is working with a range of partners to meet the needs of local children who are amongst the more vulnerable in our communities. The trust demonstrates an openness to learning from others by exploring how other similar MATs are developing.

Runner up - Hiltingbury Infant School, Eastleigh


In January 2017 governors set about assessing where they were now and where they wanted to be. Working with the head, they put together a new vision and strategy in consultation with parents and staff. Governors at Hiltingbury redesigned their strategic plan and use it to hold the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school. The plan contains challenging targets which have been met by the head and leadership team. To help, governors commissioned training in strategic planning including on roles and responsibilities. The strategy is published on the school website and is used to performance manage the headteacher.

Congratulations to all of our winners, runners up and finalists and thank you to all who entered this year’s awards. Nominations for the Outstanding Governance Awards will open again in 2019 and entries from all schools in England are encouraged.  

Awards Event Photography by Neilson Reeves Photography

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