Release date: 03/11/2021

The appointment of over 60 new National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) has been confirmed as the National Governance Association (NGA) begins delivery of reformed Department for Education (DfE) funded governance support. Governance is considered by the DfE as “key to sustained school improvement”.

Baroness Barran, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the School System said: “Effective governance absolutely underpins our continuing efforts to raise standards in our schools. Trustees and governors play a crucial role in our education system, serving with dedication and commitment for the benefit of our children and young people. I am delighted that, working with the NGA, we have designated over 60 new expert National Leaders of Governance to support trustees and governors, particularly those in trusts and schools that are most in need.”

The NLG programme forms part of the DfE’s funded offer of improvement support for schools and trusts that will benefit most. Improving the quality of governance and the strategic decisions made by boards will lift the overall performance of the organisation from the top down and complement other improvement support offered.

The DfE funded support from NLGs will first and foremost be available to schools and trusts referred by its Regional Schools Commissioner's offices as well as local authorities and diocesan bodies. This will mostly be through external reviews of governance and follow up support. Other boards can also request NLG reviews and support but will need to fund it themselves.

The aim is to achieve sustainable change on boards with NLGs sharing their expertise and experience to build the capacity and skills of those involved in governance to positively shape the school or trust’s provision. NLGs will make recommendations so that governance in the school or trust can develop and boards realise their full potential. The programme will ensure a high standard of NLG support is targeted to school and trust governance where it can make the most difference.

Designated NLGs are experienced governors, trustees, governance professionals, advisers and consultants from across England. Each NLG has demonstrated the substantial governance experience and expertise needed to carry out the role to a high standard through a rigorous and externally moderated assessment process. The team includes experts in all types of school and trust structures.

NGA has undertaken a comprehensive recruitment and assessment programme to recommend NLGs to the DfE for designation. NGA will be carefully matching referred boards with a suitably skilled and experienced NLG; providing ongoing training, support and materials to NLGs; and quality assuring their work.

Charlotte Harding and Noreen Graham are leading the programme as co-heads of the NLG programme, with Clare Collins, NGA’s head of consultancy, alongside to quality assure the work of the NLGs. They are joined by Melissa Opara and Gideon Animah who are supporting the delivery of the programme. Overseeing the NLG programme at NGA is Emma Balchin, director of professional development.

With the recruitment process just finishing, the final few NLGs will be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Visit the NLG page for more information

Emma Balchin, director of professional development at NGA said “Good governance is key in safeguarding and improving social and educational outcomes for children and young people. I am proud to get this exciting new support service underway so that, through the NLGs, hundreds of schools and trusts can access funded practical support and advice to enable them to improve outcomes through stronger governance.”

Emma Knights, chief executive of NGA said “We are extremely pleased to be working with over 60 National Leaders of Governance who have been successfully designated after a very thorough assessment process. They are experts in improving governance with a track record of success which will now be focused on trusts and schools that the Department for Education and local authorities determine need most support with governance. This should be seen as governance taking its rightful place as part of school and trust improvement.”

Read Emma’s recent blog about the new system and role of NLGs

It is good practice for boards to have an external review of governance regularly, according to both the ESFA’s Academy Trust Handbook 2021 and the DfE’s Governance Handbook. To commission an external review of governance from an NLG, email NLG@nga.org.uk or call on 0121 237 3780 (option 4).

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