Testimonials

We’re passionate about supporting governing boards to deliver real and lasting impact on school improvement. We build your leadership skills, knowledge and confidence through expert training, dedicated mentoring, self-evaluation tools, useful resources, peer-to-peer networking and much more.  

Read what our participants have to say:

Development for Clerks testimonials

“As a relatively new clerk to a multi academy trust board, I was keen to improve my clerking skills, knowledge and effectiveness by participating in this programme. The course delivered in spades, and the opportunities to share best practice with other clerks on the programme during the face-to-face and virtual sessions were hugely beneficial.

Without doubt, the most noticeable change throughout the course was to my confidence. Identifying existing strengths and areas for development, and the chance to reflect with my course tutor on ways to enhance my clerking practice and support to the board has been thoroughly worthwhile.

The learning in the workshop sessions and the mentoring support were fantastic - our tutor was an absolute star. When we moved to virtual sessions, the way she facilitated was incredibly impressive. I’ve got infinite respect for someone who can help all participants to feel at home with technology that they’ve not necessarily used before. I know it’s not easy to produce and present in a virtual environment but she made it look like a breeze, which meant we all got a tremendous amount out of the virtual sessions.”

Sophy Parkin-Haig
Company Secretary
Ridgeway Education Trust

“I had been clerking for just over a year when I decided to enrol on NGA’s Level 3 Development for Clerks. I feel passionate about the role of governance and recognise the importance of promoting the profession, value and role of the clerk.  The programme included a wide range of learning formats such as online learning, group discussion and workshop activities. Our mentor was extremely engaging and continued to deliver informative and valuable sessions, both virtually and face to face, throughout the course. 

Throughout the programme I have been able to share best practices with my cohort and recognise areas in need of further development. As a result, I have established an approach towards how I will continue to develop my skill set and learning in order to help strengthen my governing body and support it in its role.  The programme has really enabled me to develop relationships with key individuals, including the chair and headteacher. 

I would really encourage any clerk who feels passionately about governance to enrol on the programme. My cohort included a wide range of clerks from different educational settings, all with varying degrees of experience, and this was really useful to help broaden my understanding of governance within different settings. 

Most importantly, I have finished the programme feeling more confident in my abilities to perform my role as clerk and to meet my responsibilities as a governance professional. 

I’d like to offer my thanks to everyone who has participated in the delivery and facilitation of the programme. NGA has been a constant source of guidance and development.”

Megan Boyle
Governance Officer 
King Alfred’s Academy 
Oxfordshire

Development for Chairs testimonials

“I took over from the previous Chair at the end of the last academic year having spent two years as Vice-Chair, and had big shoes to fill as my predecessor was a Director of Governance in the NHS. The course was instrumental in me agreeing to take on the Chair role: if I was going to do it, I was going to do it properly!

The programme as a whole was excellent, and I can’t speak highly enough of the NLG (National Leader of Governance) who delivered it. The workshops were very useful, and a great chance to network with other Chairs/prospective Chairs. I particularly found the board observation useful, and this has developed into a mutual relationship between myself and my course buddy where we have stayed in touch and supported each other since completing the course.

The cluster groups were also extremely useful, and this is something we have continued since. I have had some very difficult challenges to deal with since becoming Chair, and this group has been instrumental in providing not only moral support but also high-quality impartial advice and guidance, where we have been able to pool our collective knowledge to support each other.

The programme has given me the skills to deal with challenging situations calmly, professionally, and with confidence. I have used the skills learned to make the best of the Governing Body’s collective skillset, identifying through a Skills Audit where we are at risk, either through a training requirement or from specialist knowledge leaving in the future. Also, what we are looking for in our next governor recruitment.

The school was found to be Inadequate when inspected in November 2012. The most recent inspection in January 2020 showed the school is now rated as Outstanding.”

Simon Watson
Chair of Governors
St John the Evangelist CE VA Primary School, Carterton, Oxfordshire

“We have been on a continuous path of improvement as a school for a number of years. As an experienced chair, I still had a lot to learn so I wanted to take part in any development programme on offer.

The programme was much more intensive than I originally expected but I was able to attend all of the group tutorial sessions and complete the required number of online modules. It was always great to meet and chat to fellow governor colleagues in Sandwell.

I have certainly improved my own effectiveness as a leader and as a communicator with fellow governors, together with establishing more effective governance arrangements. The programme was a great way to demonstrate governance investment in training and development.

I’ve also become more mindful of time allocation for online modules and know the difference between effective chairing and leadership!”

Siddique Hussain
Chair
Ormiston Forge Academy (part of Ormiston Academies Trust)

“Our school had no Strategic Plan nor a Vision Statement until after I had attended the course. During my first year as Chair, my main priority was to replace the governors who were unable to work at a strategic level. The Local Governing Body has reduced in size by three, and is now what seems to be an optimum size of nine governors.

The Leading Governance programme was led by an NLG (?) who demonstrated his broad knowledge throughout. The attendees were a mixture of inexperienced and ambitious governors and governors who were able to add value, having like myself been Chairs or Vice Chairs for some time.

We now have a comprehensive Vision Statement, approved by the Trust, and have a first draft of a Strategic Plan containing a number of objectives.

We have also persuaded the school to pay for Governor Training from the NGA, having taken out Gold Membership.  We have a current overview of training completed by individual governors and I have also introduced annual Governor Contribution Reviews.

As we now have a smaller Local Governing Body, I have initiated the appointment of two Vice Chairs to help with sharing the workload, and this contributes to succession planning.

Since I have been a governor at the school the Ofsted rating has improved from Requires Improvement to Good.”

John Scott
Chair of Governors
Bradon Forest (BFS), Athelstan Trust

“Ours is a successful school but I felt that the LGB (Local Governing Body) was a “rubber stamping” body with limited opportunities to challenge. There wasn’t an ethos of challenge in the meetings which tended to be information-giving about decisions that had already been made. I was completely isolated from the Trust Board: I had no contact with them at all. Information from the Trust was always via the Head Teacher.

I found that the things that were being discussed on the course were a world away from what was happening in our LGB at the time. On completing the course in June 2019, I approached the Head with ten things I wanted to change and he agreed. The most important of these was my joining the Trust Board in Nov 2019 which then gave me regular contact with Trustees whom I found were also feeling somewhat surplus to requirements. We have now set in motion a plan to appoint an external body to complete a review of governance.

Since the Leading Governance programme, I have been more confident in chairing meetings and have encouraged Governors to challenge where possible.  As I have the support of the Trust Board, I now have other people that I can discuss issues with. I am becoming more involved in decision-making but, as a body, there is still a way to go before we are fulfilling our role properly. The school is successful and the LGB would like to have a more active role in ensuring that success.”

“The Leading Governance programme was excellent because it outlined the roles and responsibilities for Governing Boards which I could use with the Governors to begin to develop them and their roles and responsibilities further.

The Governors now monitor more regularly and are encouraged to ask questions about issues such as data and finance. They are undertaking training alongside the senior leadership which further supports improving the outcomes for children. The wellbeing of all within the school is regularly discussed at Governing Board meetings.

I have felt more confident supporting the other Governors and they have been eager to develop. One of the first things I arranged was a SWOT session for all stakeholders to look at the vision, aims and ethos of the school – this had never been done before. The Governors appreciated this and wanted to know what else they could do to develop themselves as Governors and further support the school. This was brilliant because there was an eagerness to move forward by the Governors which enabled me to develop further in my role as Chair as I supported them.”

When I decided to do the Leading Governance Programme, I had only just started as a Governor and had quickly taken on the role of Chair. Although, as a retired Primary Head, I felt confident in many areas, I wanted to be able to carry out this role in the shoes of a Chair. The school had gone to RI (Requires Improvement) a month before I began and governance was heavily criticised for not knowing the school. The Headteacher had only been in role for two years and was trying to introduce assessment processes and more cohesive planning.

I needed to create a structure that was effective yet non-threatening for those Governors not confident in their role and to ‘weed out’ those not fulfilling the role. I introduced schedules for reviewing policies and paired Governor visits with the expectation that all Governors would take on an active role, reporting back to Governing Body meetings. The need for training was emphasised and also flagged up in meetings, resulting in a steady uptake of training and Governor visits to school.

I enjoyed the blended learning on the Leading Governance programme and found the activities and face-to-face sessions well-paced. It seemed as if there was a vast amount of reading at the outset but our facilitator teased out certain aspects of this and gave us time in the face-to-face sessions to share our differing experiences as Governors – in Primary, Secondary, Academy or LA (Local Authority) roles  – and elaborate. Again, I found this interesting, having no experience of Academy set-ups and the differing responsibilities as Academy Governors. This was reinforced by having the opportunity to observe another Governor chairing an Academy Governing Body meeting and vice versa.

Having completed the programme, I found it easier to talk with Governors about their roles and responsibilities, using some of the resources provided. It has helped me to consider more devolved roles, making more use of the Vice Chair and other Governors with particular responsibilities so that there is wider reporting at Governing Body meetings.

The action planning for myself, and the wider Governing Body, picked up on areas of the School Improvement and Development Plan so that the whole Governing Body has become more focussed on the priorities of the Plan. It has helped me to become more strategic and offer direction to the rest of the Governing Body, to support them in their roles and help them develop in confidence. I feel more confident in doing this, knowing that my own direction is shaped by national guidance.

Having supported my school in the move towards Good, I have now begun to support another school recently graded as RI and have accepted the role as my county’s Leader of Governance as part of a new initiative.”

“The Board had been through a period of development over the past few years and was becoming more effective although not yet as effective as it could be, especially in view of the difficulty of recruiting new Governors to replace those moving on. There was a good relationship with the school staff but also a need for more structure to provide a framework in which Governors could operate with more confidence and be more effective in providing support and challenge.

The programme came at a really good time for me. I needed to take the Board’s improvement programme up a gear and make the most of the potential of the team I had been building. The course provided a framework in which I could review progress, identify areas of strength and weakness, and draw up and begin to implement a new development programme.

The content of the course was thorough and fitted the bill really well, introducing a series of relevant areas to think about and tasks to focus the mind. The online platform worked well for me and the learning modules were particularly helpful. The face-to-face sessions were valuable, quite full-on, covering a lot of ground in each but also useful for sharing ideas and discussing challenges.

Overall, I found the course stimulating and a valuable use of time. One area in which I have changed my own practice is in the regularity with which I have been communicating with the Board members and using this as a vehicle through which to develop knowledge and understanding. The Board members are definitely contributing more effectively in almost all areas of governance and being more proactive in their own development.

There have been some really good discussions at Local Governing Body meetings about strategic planning for a new curriculum. More structured and confident interactions with the Head and Senior Leadership Team mean that challenge is more meaningful and perhaps more robust but is always taken in the right spirit.

I am now more confident in the role. The course provided a structure through which to draw up an effective plan for board development and the increasing confidence of other Governors is allowing me to delegate tasks with greater confidence, freeing me up to focus on strategic matters and take responsibility for one or two really key items, including planning for a new building project. 

The programme has also made me more aware and appreciative of the work of the NGA, prompting me to attend several interesting and informative events that might otherwise have passed me by.”

Development for Boards testimonial

“We are a local family of schools, passionately committed to providing high quality education for our community. We engaged with the NGA training programme to support Trustees and Governors as part of our development planning.

The programme was perfectly timed at a stage when we were beginning to expand further and wanted to look at governance across the Trust. The NGA mentor was an excellent support for the Chair of Trustees.

The 360° exercise at the beginning of the programme helped us to take stock and identify key areas of action. The 360° exercise at the end of the programme allowed us to measure our progress, which shows a much stronger governance leadership within our Trust.

We benefited from two workshops facilitated by NGA which assisted Trustees to shape our future direction more firmly. The second workshop, our first away day involving Trustees, Governors and Senior Leaders, has helped to create a stronger bond and shared sense of purpose.

We now have a forward-looking Trustee Development Plan, with link Trustees for each strategic priority and clear lines of Trustee oversight and Executive accountability based on strategic KPIs. Trustees have agreed to track to ensure outstanding provision across our schools.

The NGA programme has contributed to stronger governance leadership within the Trust. The Chair of Trustees found this to be a great support and our experience of the programme has been extremely positive. We would highly recommend the programme to other Trusts.”

Find out more about our Leading Governance programmes

Development for Clerks programme

Development for Chairs programme

Development for Boards programme

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