Release date: 22/09/2017

More than 5,300 school governors and trustees shared their views and experiences in our annual survey.

Key findings:

  • Funding pressures are the main concern of governors and trustees – 72% do not believe that they can be managed without any adverse impact on the quality of education
  • 30% of governors and trustees said their school had already reduced the number of teaching staff because of funding constraints, while 33% say they anticipated doing so in the next two years
  • When asked which government policy or action had had most impact on their governing body over the last year, funding dominated with 55% naming it their main challenge
  • Only 17% agree that the removal of national curriculum levels had been a positive change whilst 41% disagreed or strongly disagreed with 36% governors and trustees saying they have now developed their own progress measure
  • There is a slight fall in the proportion of governing boards struggling to appoint across all levels
  • On being a governor, 95% agreed that high quality indication training should be mandatory, and 40% said their responsibilities were not manageable in 10 – 20 days
  • Young people are significantly under represented on governing boards – just 1.1% respondents were under 30 and 10.4% were under 40
  • Diversity of ethnicity is considerably narrower than the averages shown in the census (86% white) and the backgrounds of pupils attending state funded schools (75% white) – 94% respondents gave their ethnicity as white
  • 4 in 5 governors and trustees are currently or were previously in managerial or professional occupations suggesting they have significant skills and experience to offer schools
  • 55% respondents state that they find it difficult to recruit to their governing board.



     Read more about the key findings with TES online coverage: 

     Exclusive: Governor survey reveals how funding squeeze is hitting education in schools

     Find out ‘Who’s Governing’ in the latest issue of Governing Matters



Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governance Association said: “The National Governance Association is deeply concerned about the difficulties governing boards are having balancing school budgets. 72% of governors and trustees told us that funding pressures were having an impact on the quality of education being offered by their school or trust. We do not think that the additional money moved into revenue funding by the Secretary of State for Education will be enough to solve this problem. More than half of secondary school respondents have had to amend their curriculum offer with many reducing the subjects or qualifications taught. Some schools – including primaries – have cut extracurricular activities. Premises expenditure and, very sadly, money for staff professional development are often near the top of the list for cuts. We will be writing again to the Chancellor with these results. Mr Hammond really does need to increase expenditure on schools if governing boards across England are to be able to safeguard our children’s education.”

What governors and trustees say:

On the government action with the greatest impact - 


“Financial cuts. It is profoundly depressing to see brilliant, life-transforming strategies being whittled away; it evokes disgust when this crime is compounded by government steadfastly maintaining that they are putting more money into schools.”

 “The reduction in funding to LAs which has seen the collapse of the school improvement section of the LA and the withdrawal of support services.”

On the impact of financial restraints - 

 “Everything that costs money has been affected, we are relying on staff goodwill which will be stretched in the future and particularly after the low pay increase.”

“Driven stronger financial control and whole school responsibility regarding spending. Been very positive but cannot save any more than we are now.”

On removing national curriculum levels - 

“We are now talking about children's learning rather than numerical data”

 “This was a diversion from other more useful activities and productive for teaching staff, senior leaders and governors and trustees. It has brought about a period of uncertainty, particularly when coupled with the changes at GCSE and A Level.” 


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