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Visible governance

Making an honours nomination

How to nominate a governor, trustee or governance professional for a National Honour.


The honours system recognises people who have made a significant contribution to public life. Honours are a great way of recognising the achievements of school governors, trustees and governance professionals doing extraordinary things in their communities.

National honours are very competitive – the following guidance will help to make the strongest nomination possible.

Who can be nominated?

  • Anyone can be nominated for an honour. This guidance is for those wanting to nominate governors, trustees or governance professionals working in the UK, but honours are available for a wide range of achievements and services.
  • Only individuals can be nominated for an honour; you cannot nominate a board or school.

Who can make a nomination?

  • Anyone can make a nomination but it does help if you can give a good overview of your nominee's work over time and demonstrate the impact they have had.
  • You cannot nominate yourself for a national honour.

How are honours awarded?

  • The Department for Education initially assesses nominations for governors, trustees and governance professionals.
  • Successful nominations are then reviewed by an independent committee and those considered strong enough are recommended to the Prime Minister and the Queen for approval.
  • The honours committee decide the type of honour to be awarded (for example OBE or MBE).

How long does the process take?

  • There are two annual lists – one is published at New Year (end of December) and the other is published for the King's official birthday in June.
  • It usually takes 12 to 18 months to process a nomination.
  • Ideally, nominations should be made while the nominee is still in service and at least 12 months before they retire or step down.

How to make a nomination

All honour nominations are strictly confidential (do not inform the nominee that you are putting them forward for an honour – it is not fair to raise expectations in case an award is not made).

Submitting your nomination

To nominate someone, you can download a form and submit this via email, or make a nomination online. You will be asked to provide details on:

  • the service for which you think the nominee should receive an honour (for example services to education)
  • detailed information on the posts and roles they have held
  • the impact of their service on a particular field, group, community or sector
  • why they stand out from others providing a similar service
  • any ways in which their contribution has been recognised elsewhere (in the media, awards, or by professional groups)

Letters of support

  • You will need at least two letters to endorse the nominee's contribution.
  • These need to be from people who are familiar with the services of the individual – they can be part of the school or organisation the nominee is part of (such as fellow governor/trustee or senior leader), or someone who has been personally impacted by their contributions.

What makes a successful nomination

You should provide as much information about the nominee as possible without simply listing every job or post they have held. Consider if your nominee has:

  • made a difference to their community or field of work
  • exemplified sustained and selfless voluntary service
  • carried the respect of their peers
  • changed things (emphasise what they have achieved)

Describe how their actions have had a significant impact on the education of the pupils in their school/trust or made a difference in their community. Include evidence to support these statements. For instance, examples of how the individual has:

  • mentored others in their area or trust
  • sustained or improved Ofsted gradings or pupil performance data
  • worked to support a local association or governance network

Other things to consider:

  • Length of service – long service is not a justification for an award, but awards are given to those who have made a substantial contribution in their roles, so you should make clear how long they have been active and the difference they have made.
  • Scale – what has the scale of their contributions been?  At a local, regional or national level? How many people, schools or pupils have benefitted from their actions?
  • Context – what challenges and issues were faced by their school, trust or wider community? Explain how the nominee made a difference to these issues.

Help from NGA

We are committed to encouraging and supporting the nomination of governance volunteers and professionals for honours.

Honours are just one way to recognise and celebrate the contribution of governors, trustees and governance professionals. NGA is currently running a Visible Governance in Schools campaign to raise the profile of governance and the impact of good governance on schools.

We also run our own Outstanding Governance Awards for governing boards, clerks and governance professionals.

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