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Chairing a board

Raising the profile of the chair's role and the work required to lead school and trust boards


Each governing board must have a chair. That chair is the first among equals and, while expected to ensure the various governance functions of the board are conducted, that person is not solely responsible for any. Although the chair has no individual power, they play an absolutely crucial role in setting the culture of the governing board.

Report overview

This report aims to raise the issues of leading school and trust boards once again in the discourse, to keep those crucial roles visible. We draw from both the extensive literature on board activity in other sectors as well as NGA's own research, and also our experience of working with many governing boards of both academy trusts and local authority-maintained (LA) schools.

We hope that this report also acts as a celebration of those who step forward to lead governing boards and acts as reminder to others in the sector of the considerable ask of volunteers. In all our dealings with chairs we are reminded just how engaged, informed and reflective they are, and the information summarised here bears this out.

The report covers:

  1. Who leads governing boards
  2. Experiences of being a board leader
  3. Recruiting board leaders
  4. Developing and supporting board leaders
  • “I think the most enjoyable aspects are working in...a strategic position where I can continue to develop my skills and knowledge of how we as an education system and leaders in the education system can make the biggest difference to children and young people and society as a whole in the future."

    Multi academy trust chair and research participant


    The Chair's Handbook

    The Chair’s Handbook is an NGA guide that provides essential reading for those leading and aspiring to lead governing boards and committees. It applies to all types of school structure, and is also useful reading for executive leaders working with chairs of boards.

    Find out more
    The Chair's Handbook in situ

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