Release date: 18/09/2020

Governors and trustees have shared their views on the manageability of the role and recruiting a chair and their experience of support from a clerk and undertaking training and development in the National Governance Association’s annual state of the nation report.

Three quarters of governors and trustees surveyed agree that their governance role is manageable around their professional and personal commitments. However, chairs and those in full time employment were less likely to report that it is manageable. The youngest governors and trustees aged under 30, and the oldest, aged 60 and over, were the most likely to find their role manageable. Over half of those who think that their governance role is unmanageable also say that they have considered or are considering resigning from their post (55%). This applied to only 18% of those who feel their governance role is manageable.

Overall, 35% of governors/trustees agreed that their board finds it difficult to attract a good chair and vice chair. However, 43% of current chairs and 46% of senior executive leaders find chairs recruitment is difficult. A quarter of chairs (25%) became appointed as part of an agreed succession plan however a higher proportion (36%) stepped up ‘as no one else wanted to take on the role’.

Other key findings include:

  • The overwhelming support for mandatory induction training continues with 93% of respondents agreeing that relevant high-quality induction training should be mandatory for new governors/trustees, a figure that has remained consistent across the ten years of the annual school governance survey. When first asked in 2011, 90% agreed.
  • Over nine in 10 governors/trustees said they had undertaken some form of training or development for their governance role (93%). This varied by role, with 96% of chairs and vice chairs reporting having undertaken some form of training compared with 88% of those who held no chairing responsibilities.
  • How clerks are employed impacted on whether governors and trustees say their board receives advice on governance, constitutional and procedural matters. 94% of those with a clerk employed through the LA or another service provider said they did compared to 82% of those whose clerk had another role in school.
  • During the national lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, most governing boards (68%) continued to meet via web-based video conferences. Over the course of the survey there was a consistent weekly rise of participants reporting meetings by video conferences.

The annual school governance survey collected 6,864 responses in 2020 and is the only consistent large-scale survey on the demographics, views and experiences of the volunteers governing state-funded schools in England.

Read the School Governance in 2020 governance practice report.


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