Release date: 11/09/2020

Governors and trustees have shared their experience of overseeing staffing and leadership issues in school and trusts including recruitment and development of senior executive leaders, recruitment of teachers and monitoring wellbeing and workload in the National Governance Association’s annual state of the nation report.

A third of governing boards (36%) said that tackling staff workload and wellbeing was one of the top three issues facing their school or trust. While 81% of chairs of governing boards agreed that their board monitors and addresses staff workload just 49% of staff governors said the same, with 61% of other governors/trustees agreeing. This disparity shows that while chairs of boards have a greater awareness of this issue than others on the board, they may also be overconfident in how well their board is delivering and communicating their strategic response to the issue in their own setting.

Recruitment of senior executive leaders, other senior leaders and teachers remains difficult with nearly two in five governors/trustees (37%)  saying that it is difficult to attract senior executive leaders and 38% saying it is difficult to recruit to teaching posts, however since 2016 recruitment across all posts appears to have become less difficult. Recruitment is more difficult in some regions with respondents from London, the East of England and the South East almost twice as likely to report that attracting good candidates for teaching posts is difficult compared with respondents from the North East and North West.

Other key findings include:

  • 26% of respondents indicated that their board had not formally engaged with staff within the past 12 months; among those that did, staff surveys were the most popular form of engagement with 70% of boards using them.
  • According to governors/trustees that have appointed within the past year, the biggest challenges new executive leaders face relate to organisational management including finance, strategy and stakeholder engagement.
  • 71% of  governors/trustees support government’s plans to raise primary and secondary school teachers’ starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022/23, however many raised concerns about how this could be accommodated within existing school budgets.

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 leadership and staffing report.

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