Skip to content

Governance Professionals

NGA's position statement on governance professionals

man with his hands clenched together sitting at a meeting

Governance professional is an umbrella term used to describe those who provide independent governance support to governing boards, trust boards and academy committees often referred to as local governing bodies.  The profession incorporates a variety of roles and levels of support, including:

  • clerks
  • governance managers in a multi academy trust (MAT)
  • lead governance professional/head of governance in a MAT

Governance professionals operating at all levels have a vital role in our education system. Their support and essential oversight results in strong governance, which leads to better outcomes.

Governance professionals are either employed directly by schools or trusts or commissioned as independent service providers under a service agreement. NGA is of the view that as a MAT grows and evolves, it should employ a lead governance professional within the central support team to meet the demands and complexity of governance across a number of schools.

Recruiting and developing governance professionals

Governing boards, alongside their school and trust leaders, should play an active role in the recruitment of the governance professional in a maintained school, and the lead governance professional in a MAT. They should seek to recruit a governance professional who either holds a qualification relevant to the level and requirements of their specific role or is committed to achieving this within their first twelve months of their employment. This should be funded by the board if they employ the governance professional or reflected in the cost of an independent service provider. All governance professionals should be committed to their ongoing professional development and boards should encourage and support this.

Every governance professional should be provided with a job description or service agreement, which:

  • sets out the purpose of their role, their specific duties and responsibilities
  • acts as a point of reference for appraisal and for any issues relating to the level of service provided

Appraising and paying governance professionals 

Governance professionals working at all levels should have an annual appraisal. The chair, or designated member of the governing board, should be involved in the appraisal of the governance professional at a maintained school, and the lead governance professional in a MAT.  

Pay is determined by the employer and should accurately reflect the specific duties and responsibilities set out in the job description or service agreement. It should also reflect the skills, knowledge and professional experience required, as well as a realistic calculation of hours worked and working conditions. Employers should use benchmarking to inform their evaluation of governance professional pay. Research carried out by NGA in 2020, benchmarked the duties set out in its model role description for a clerk to a single school governing board as no less than £12.85 per hour to £13.80 per hour based on the level of experience. This is the full time equivalent of £24,977 to £26,910 per-annum..

Maintaining professional independence  

The independence of a governance professional should not be compromised. Governance professionals should be prepared and able to advise the governing board in the way they see fit, to ensure that procedures are followed and decisions well informed. In order to support their independence, NGA does not think it is best practice for a governance professional to be employed in another role in their school or trust. Where this does happen, there must be a clear job description and time allocation for when the individual is acting as the governance professional. The NGA has campaigned for a number of years for the role of clerk to governors to be professionalised. It is widely recognised that an effective clerk is a key element in the success of any governing board.

Governance professionals resources