On Friday, 17 November 2023, NGA's co-chief executives Emma Knights and Emma Balchin delivered NGA's annual address, discussing the past year's successes and what to expect from NGA in the year ahead. Below is a written transcription of this address.
Thank you all for joining us to take stock of NGA’s work to both support and advocate on behalf of the governance community in the past 12 months.
I don’t think we need to rehearse all the reasons why 2023 had been a tough year for the school sector. It may now seem quite some time since the teacher strikes and the ballots for leaders’ strikes and the relief that we all felt when, finally, there was a settlement just before the summer holidays.
Although a distinct issue from pay and conditions, there was also increasing anger over Ofsted inspections and its grading system. We have listened to what you - governing boards - have told us about the inspection system, in particular your concerns with the impact Ofsted has on the workload and wellbeing of school leaders and staff. While we recognise the place inspections play within a broader accountability framework, the dominance given to Ofsted can skew practice and focus within our schools; after all, we do not have a dysfunctional system. The schools you govern, in the great majority, deliver well for their pupils and most inspections will end up with a ‘good’ verdict. But as much as we have said that the culture needs to change to reduce the pervasive fear across the schools sector and that governing boards have a role to play in combatting that unhealthy fear, it has been nigh on impossible to make a dent in that.
You are monitoring, supporting and challenging your schools and trusts term in, term out: you know their strengths and weaknesses; you agree the strategic priorities. It is highly unlikely that in one or two days of visits the inspectorate can learn things you and your school leaders don’t already know. You need to have confidence in those decisions you collectively made. Two years ago, in this address, I suggested that it is your role to convince leaders, who are working hard to deliver the vision and strategy and provide a good education, that there is no need to fear the consequences of an inspection. I fear that call was rather naïve: the worry that the stakes are high and appear to be deeply entrenched; there needs to be a significant reset.
We have therefore called for a fully independent, expert and transparent review of school inspection, addressing how well it contributes to school improvement, including across MATs. Such a review must consider how inspections affect schools in disadvantaged communities and replace the current grading system with a more constructive alternative and reports that help schools to improve. Greater recognition also needs to be given to the role and responsibilities of governing boards in the inspection process. Governance has become largely invisible when boards are, of course, the accountable bodies.
Making inspections more proportionate and reducing the attention paid to what is a snapshot in time should also leave more room for governance to take its rightful place of accountability. The ultimate stakeholders to whom schools and trusts are answerable - pupils, parents and their communities – do not get enough time in the sun. Governing boards have a crucial role – in fact, the role - to play in ensuring that their voices are heard and noted.
We also think it is appropriate that MATs should be inspected as a single organisation, and I suggest this is bound to happen in due course. Ofsted’s capacity and expertise needs to be developed before this could begin – inspecting a trust is a very different operation from inspecting a school.
This year has seen the Department for Education reconsider its guidance, trying to slim it down to the principles and leaving the good practice to the sector to determine and sector bodies, such as NGA, to document. You have already seen an amended Academies Trust Handbook and this side of Christmas you should see two new DfE governance guides – their Governance Handbook has been split into two guides, one for maintained schools and one for trusts. Don’t worry: this will not necessitate a change of direction for boards. It is cosmetic, aiming to help governors and trustees get to what they need more efficiently. We feel that NGA already fulfills that function of supplementing DfE’s high level principles for governance with more practical guidance for all models of school and trust governance, so it will not mean a change of plan for us either.
But I want to underline an achievement – as these things are hard wom. Those of you with us today will know the board’s 3 core functions that the DfE has used for some years and you may remember that for most of that, NGA has proposed a fourth core function of listening to and accountability to stakeholders.
So, we were pleased to see the 2023 version of the ESFA’s academy trust handbook had rethought those core functions, which are now called the board purpose and we have:
- Strategic leadership of the academy trust: the board defines the trust vision for high quality and inclusive education in line with its charitable objects. It establishes and fosters the trust’s culture and sets and champions the trust strategy, including determining what, if any, governance functions are delegated to the local tier: the old 1st core function
- Accountability and assurance: the board has robust effective oversight of the operations and performance of the academy trust, including the provision of education, pupil welfare, overseeing and ensuring appropriate use of funding and effective financial performance and keeping their estate safe and well maintained: this wraps up both the old 2nd and 3rd core functions into one purpose of oversight.
That leaves us with:
- Engagement: the board has strategic oversight of relationships with stakeholders. The board involves parents, schools and communities so that decision-making is supported by meaningful engagement. That is of course NGA’s 4th core function – so we are most chuffed that this principle had finally and rightly been adopted by the powers that be.
This year, the DfE hasn’t added to the endorsement it gave for local governance in last year’s White Paper when they said: "So that trusts continue to be responsive to parents and local communities, all trusts should have local governance arrangements for their schools."
But when we have challenged them on why this was and encouraged them to say a little more, the answer we received was: “well NGA is doing that”, and I am pleased to say that we did add to our literature on local governance this May with another report on its good practice. Our twelve expectations and the four S’s: standards, stakeholders, safeguarding and SEND, which tend to be delegated to local governors, have gone down extremely well. We do know what good looks like, and it isn’t just one thing – but there is a lot of similarity between trusts who are doing this well. Why deviate from good when we know what good looks like?
However, let’s not get complacent as our annual survey – thanks as always to those who responded – shows a little bit of reversal, or at the very least a stalling of recent progress. In 2023, local governors were slightly less confident that their voices were heard by leaders and less positive about the communication between the trustees and the local tier. This can and must be addressed – please talk to us if you are not sure how.
Last year, we promised to do more work on governance professionals after our earlier research had shown much more attention needed to be paid to ensuring these vital people are developed and fairly rewarded. In December, we published a career pathway which has been universally acclaimed. It has three levels within the profession: clerk; governance coordinator and lead governance professional. The minister Baroness Barran welcomed it and a group of half a dozen other governance and clerking organisations asked us to share the pathway to be used by all of them on an independent website, and of course we did. We know it is not always easy to find good governance professionals at any level, so we have improved our jobs page on our new website. Sometimes it will be necessary to develop someone into the role, and there is information for this too.
I hope you have noticed that NGA does try to practice what we preach and listen to our members when developing our resources or scoping our project work. Our organisational values, as agreed by our members some years ago, are expertise, evidence, our independence and listening to the voices of all and we have also, of course, adopted the framework for ethical leadership in education. They are not just words on our tin; they are written through all that we do. So, one of the new ways we will be engaging with some of you will be through some standing consultative groups: if you are a governance professional or a chair of the MAT with an interest in shaping what we produce and argue for in 2024, then please do get in touch with Amy Wright, our Clerking Development Manager, and Michael Barton, our Trust Governance Specialist.
I hope you all remember that for the last 2 years we have been running a Greener Governance project looking at what governing boards can do to embed environmental sustainability into their strategies. We borrowed 4 C’s – campus, community, culture and curriculum – which have held us in good stead and been hugely welcomed, but we are now considering adding 2 more: careers, as green careers is an enormous issue not just for the future, but the here and now. The 6th C has been suggested by FED, who has developed a one stop website for environmental sustainability which will shortly be available – as CPD is much needed and indeed should be in the climate action plan the DfE is expecting of you next year. Today, we have published a bitesize e-learning module to keep this on your agenda or more importantly get it onto the agenda of those boards who are haven’t yet taken action.
And here’s the good news: in May 2022, 41% of schools/trusts told us they had taken action on environmental sustainability; and in May 2023, this has increased to 64% of respondents. Thank you for your leadership in this area. It had been sorely missing before young people began demonstrating regularly in 2019 and I am thrilled that so many pupils have been involved in shaping these initiatives. Not only are they such a very important voice in the education system – but I know that for most of you, that contact with young people, being part of a school community is what gives you the spring in your step, the motivation to govern, the joy of seeing children learn and laugh. So, we have, last week, produced a short guidance document on engaging with pupils and we would love to hear about your experience and especially your successes. When did listening to young people influence a decision of your school or trust board?
As you know, I took up my new post in September for which, before I reflect back on our achievements this year, I’d like to take a minute to thank our own trustees; for their continued support, and willingness to lead by example, by creating these flexible leadership arrangements to ensure we are practicing what we preach to you regarding creating favorable employment conditions and practices. It’s an absolute privilege to join Emma as Co-CEO in serving you in your mission to ensure children and young people in their schools and trusts have the best possible experiences and outcomes.
Over the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to lead the National Leaders of Governance (NLG) team. This year has seen the completion of the programme, which is a huge achievement for NGA. We undertook and documented the findings from over 400 external reviews of governance (410 deployments with 60 SATS, 198 MATs, and 152 maintained schools).
The reviews identify that there are common challenges whatever type of setting, and NGA continue to support these challenges through the production of resources, eLearning and training and consultancy services. The top issues highlighted were:
- Board composition (need for a variety of skills, cognitive diversity, and the need for recruitment and succession planning)
- Lack of effective monitoring, triangulation, and objective reporting
- Poor vision or strategy or no ownership of
- Outdated governance structures
- The importance of strong financial accountability and challenge to ensure the best use of resources (jeopardising financial stability, highlighting importance of skilled governors with financial expertise)
By analysing and sharing the learning and where possible, common NLG recommendations to prevent or avoid these common pitfalls, despite the work ending, NLGs have created a legacy of driving sustainable change at governance level, positively shaping what schools and trusts provide their pupils, and we will continue this by offering trust and school level ERGs and sharing the learning from them through our longstanding consultancy reviews.
Leading Governance development:
As Director of PD, I was also able to support the continuation beyond the DfE funding, of our well-established Leading Governance Development programmes: the variety of in-depth longitudinal study they offer enables participants to focus on learning or honing the skills and behaviours to perform their governance roles effectively.
- NGA has supported over 4,000 (4,051) participants with 666 of them being clerks and governance professionals who have achieved a level 3 qualification.
We recently undertook an external evaluation of this work, which I am thrilled to say concluded:
“There is compelling evidence that the NGA LG programme is considered as a well-designed and highly rated course. Feedback…was overwhelmingly positive, with the majority of participants gaining the knowledge and skills required to effectively organise, lead, and participate in (their roles).”
(March 23 LG independent analysis)
As you all know, in improving and supporting governance what we are really trying to do is bring about the right circumstances for children and young people to thrive in school.
Emma spoke last year how disadvantage would be one of our priorities for 2023 and in our seminar on Wednesday, we discussed that eradicating disadvantage in education is consistently one of the biggest challenges schools and trusts face. Following the pandemic and cost of living crisis in recent years, it’s exposed a whole new layer of uncomfortable truths around what it means to be a child living with ‘disadvantage’ navigating our education system.
Colleagues from NFER and EPI illustrated, statistically, what you will have witnessed, and supported your schools as they try to lessen the impact of the extent to which food poverty affects socioeconomically disadvantaged children in all its ugly reality; the glaring digital divide, which creates an unfair starting line in the race to the top of the education tree; a SEND system that’s struggling to cope with the growing cohort of children who require specialist support, increasing safeguarding concerns. Regardless of the root cause, inequity in education leads to reduced life chances and missed opportunities for children and young people to fulfil their potential.
The DfE makes pupil premium funding available to schools to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils – a strategy that we welcome here at NGA. However, schools largely look at addressing educational disadvantages through this lens. But research shows there are other groups of children who are statistically at a significant educational disadvantage, which we cannot afford to ignore in pursuit of closing the attainment gap. For starters, socio-economic disadvantage is far more wide-reaching than the current FSM measure, with 900,000 children currently living in poverty, who sit outside of that FSM measure.
Our seminar conference this year represented the culmination of our work over the past 12 – 18 months, where we have been digging a bit deeper into some of those other drivers of disadvantage. We have worked closely with experts in their respective fields, including the Child Poverty Action Group, Class 13, the Children’s Society and Place2Be, to bring boards five toolkits, along with some overarching guidance on how to use them to best effect: ‘Disadvantage – Widening the Lens’. We hope these have already begun to support you in creating a more equitable environment in your schools and trusts. They’re about to be released in their second improved iteration following feedback and some more practical examples of their implementation. We are also grateful to our colleagues at the Youth Sport Trust, Parentkind, the National Foundation of Education Research for their contributions to make the toolkits as informative and useful as possible, working together with you, we hope this work contributes to making a difference to reverse the trend of the widening gap both covid but also the reductions in funding of other critical front-line services are exacerbating. In our manifesto, which I will touch on later this morning, we are calling for FSM eligibility to be extended to all children from families who are in receipt of Universal Credit.
Moving from the last year to today, we are publishing the summary of our governance workload report: ‘Taking stock of governance workload’. We have been monitoring volunteer workload and challenges for many years, but recently, there have been many warning signs and we needed to be assured that school and trust governance is sustainable. Vacancies are rising, recruitment is getting more and more difficult and even the most dedicated volunteers are feeling the strain. Over a quarter of all governance volunteers and a third of chairs are contemplating resigning with a combination of the time and the pressure of the role being the main drivers.
We had over 2000 responses to our questions about the stresses of the role. I probably don’t need to tell this audience – but we wanted to report this to you today before we shared it with the outside world – our key findings on the pressure of governance:
- Increasing numbers of exclusions
- Exclusion panels demand additional meeting time, huge amounts of preparation, specific training requirements as well as often a significant emotional impact and an impact on relationships with leaders
- Increasing numbers and complexity of complaints being escalated to the governing board complaints committee stage
- The challenges of the wider system increase the challenges for governing boards:
- funding pressures;
- staff recruitment and well-being crisis in schools;
- Ofsted pressures;
- Increasing pupil behaviour and attendance issues;
- Increasing safeguarding concerns;
- Increasing SEND needs;
- Maintenance of buildings
2. The widening expectations on schools to support families apply to governing boards too, including:
- Mental health challenges for pupils and for their families;
- Poverty and the costs of living increases;
- The reduction of other public and third sector support services for families.
3. Increasing board vacancies leads to pressures on others
- The expectations make it very difficult to recruit and retain those with many other commitments, in turn acting against some of the attempts to diversify boards, so that the workload burdens are shouldered by a reducing number of hard-pressed volunteers;
- The work of recruitment and inducting of new volunteers falls to the same group of experienced volunteers (with the support of their governance professional).
- The cost of losing, both experienced and new, valued board members is high and becoming higher, and NGA will keep encouraging moves to govern in different settings rather than leaving governance completely.
- The responsibility of chairs feels greater as they both take on additional work and look at ways of reducing pressures to retain others, thus in turn hindering succession planning.
- Inefficient board practice and dysfunctional dynamics exasperates volunteers and makes poor use of their time; I don’t have the space here to go through all the issues there, but alongside the full report next week we will publish an information sheet to remind boards of what constitutes efficiency. The governance role being universally manageable is dependent on it remaining strategic and well defined with a culture of trust, respect and collaboration. Although I must emphases this, in itself, will not solve the whole issues.
- Training expectations that go beyond induction have become overwhelming for some with a lack of flexibility in training methods and access issues causing frustration. We appreciate that at NGA we might be part of the problem, adding to our training and development offer. We are therefore committing to making sure we focus the training expectation on both the board’s and individual’s knowledge gaps and not deliver one-size-fits-all sessions. We hope you have already begun to see that with our Learning Link e-learning.
4. The sheer amount of time it takes to govern is difficult to reconcile with other commitments
- While for those in employment, it is increasingly hard to manage board meeting expectations including the preparation for them, this point of view also often extends to those who are retired.
- It has proved difficult to pinpoint accurately a time commitment for the role: there are a number of estimates of the time it takes, which vary widely. NGA commits in the spring to undertake a further piece of work to quantify the range of time required depending on the role undertaken and the issues at the school/trust.
The governance community has spoken loudly and clearly: there needs to be change.
We posed the questions during the course of this work:
- Is there anything we can remove from the responsibilities?
- What else can be done to reduce the workload and the pressures?
The answers are …
- Strategies to deal with the significant rises and shifting complexity of complaints schools and trusts receive which are escalated to board level must be reviewed:
- There must be change in the role of governing boards in exclusions: this is no longer sustainable and a new approach is needed: This is truly the one and only reduction of responsibility which we have landed upon.
- While holding school leaders to account for their approach, the use of pupil exclusions is part of the strategic governance role; boards do not otherwise get involved with the details of individual pupils and it is time that exclusions is brought in line with this principle;
- Alternative proposals have been suggested, including the human rights charity JUSTICE; in 2018, they called for the introduction of a new suitably qualified and experienced independent reviewer to replace volunteer panels.
- NGA will be advocating for this change with our members and the wider sector: you are the first people to hear of it and we would be interested to hear your reaction, but there will also be an event on 30 January 2024 to look at this issue more deeply.
3. While not yet a majority, there has been a notable shift in support for remuneration for the role among the governing community:
- potential benefits of paying those who govern our schools and trusts include easier and more diversity in recruitment, increased visibility, greater accountability and placing it on a more level footing with other sectors;
- arguments against payment include an alteration of the nature of the governance role and motivations behind it, increasing conflicts of interest conflicts, a departure from the charity sector and the cost to the public purse;
- there is little existing evidence as to whether the payment for governance duties would be transformative; this should be examined by a Government funded research project looking at the business case;
- NGA commits to facilitating a discussion beginning with you our members: we are holding a debate on 8 February 2024.
In the meantime, we ask all parts of the school sector, but particularly the Department of Education to appreciate:
The education system in England is built on the premise that a vast number of willing volunteers are able to give their time freely to fulfil the governance duties, both defined by statutory requirements and duties dictated by localised context. This is civic duty in action and needs to be celebrated and nurtured. Warm words are insufficient: deeds are required.
Action must be taken to attract more volunteers. The positive experiences of governing, the joy and satisfaction of being part of a school or trust community, needs to be spread far and wide, alongside the personal development opportunity and an honest description of the expectations. NGA will commit to play its part, working with partners, through the Everyone on Board campaign with Inspiring Governance and our Visible Governance activities, but the need for a significant government push on recruitment has never been more pertinent than it is now. Employers should also be involved to encourage and support their staff to govern – there will be more on that in 2024.
All government funding towards board development has been terminated for a number of years. The offer of an annual training allowance to each volunteer to spend on relevant quality provision would underline a DfE commitment and help focus the annual conversations on appropriate offers. An increase of knowledge on the part of some senior leaders is also required and more transparency as to the content of DfE funded programmes.
This report, we hope, will help us continue to champion reducing governance workload in order to both protect the well-being of those who govern and continue the sustainability of the volunteer role. It provides the evidence for us to make a much more high-profile case.
Alongside these issues of subject specific consultations, our annual governance survey is one of the most valuable tools we use to ensure your voices are at the heart of all we do. This year, an overwhelming number of you told us that attendance was both one of your top challenges and top priorities (from our Annual Governance Survey 2023), so you won’t be surprised to hear that attendance will be one of our focal points for the coming year.
The latest data tells us that those children who are socio-economically disadvantaged and those with SEND are most likely to be persistently or severely absent from school, once again revealing evidence of educational inequity. The Children’s Commissioner’s recent attendance audit found that poor housing, poverty and waiting times for specialist support such as mental health services or EHCPs were among the main drivers of absenteeism.
Many of the causes underpinning absenteeism are symptomatic of underfunded and overstretched external services, not only those vital preventative services like Early Help and family support, but also statutory services such as health and social care (who are often unaware of the wider impact of things like long waits to be seen or assessed on school attendance, and therefore even longer-term educational outcomes – those conversations just aren’t happening in most places). Whilst you do tell us some solutions, or helpful strategies, for example, 76% of you told us that advising and working with parents was the most effective measure to ensure children are in school, alongside employing attendance officers, attendance awards, multi-agency support for families and breakfast clubs, the pressure on schools to pick up the pieces is unsustainable. That is why, in our manifesto for schools and trusts, we go beyond calls for investment in education. We are calling for the next government to commit to restoring the funding levels of local authorities and equipping them with what they need to carry out their statutory duties more effectively.
We also want to ensure you are equipped with everything you need to navigate this changing landscape. That is why in the coming year we are going to be working with those on the front line of the education system all the way through to national leaders in the sector, some of whom you’ve already heard from in our first seminar of the week. We will be working to produce the resources and tools you need to address the attendance crisis within the governance context of your schools and trusts as well as guiding you on how to raise the challenge, alongside us at government level.
Looking forward, NGA is committed to raising the profile of how these issues affect governance and what we need in order to bring about positive change in the sector. We hope you’ll agree our new brand and website are a great start to demonstrating our fit for future status, which will be further enhanced over the coming year by the development of our own technology strategy. This will not only look inwards to ensure our own systems and processes are evolving at pace, keeping us as effective at meeting your needs as possible, but will also parallel the advances being made in schools, and beyond, and inform our support and advice on how you can further harness technology to support you in your role.
Clearly, we know as we look ahead, the one constant we can expect is change, be that the evolution of the school system, society, or a new government with new policies or ideas. Whatever lies ahead, we are dedicated to working with you to secure ‘better circumstances’.
Indeed, we have already begun campaigning for this.
“Education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet. It is the best economic policy, the best social policy, and the best moral policy.” These were the words of our Prime Minister during his education speech at the Conservatives party conference. And I don’t disagree, but does the current level of investment reflect the value of this silver bullet?
Earlier this term, we published our straight-talking manifesto, highlighting our collective top priorities for the upcoming election. It draws on the voices of 250,000+ governors and trustees from across the nation, offering a unique perspective for the next government. At the start of term, both Emma and I took these to the party conferences, and the wider NGA has been sharing them wherever we go.
We highlight concerns we share with the wider sector and breakdown our asks into four categories:
- Leadership and accountability.
We are hearing ever more about the challenges boards face as employers when recruiting teachers, such as unfavourable working conditions and the inability to offer incentives to staff. But the recruitment and retention issues don’t stop there; in this year’s Annual Governance Survey, you also told us that it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and retain teaching assistants, administrators, and caretakers, who are now finding alternative employment with less responsibility but higher pay.
The value we place on the education of our children and young people, and those working hard to shape their future, must be reflected in the spaces that they work and learn too. That is why we are calling on the incoming government to establish a long-term programme for removing hazardous materials from schools, as well implementing renewable energy.
We are also still seeing disparities in the funding and accessibility of good quality edtech resources. This is no longer just about preparing our children and young people for the future, it’s also about enabling them to access education in the present. With many schools situated in low-income and rural areas struggling to fund or access good quality resources, we are seeing the disadvantage gap widen despite our best efforts to tackle this.
A further challenge you highlighted to us in the survey is support and adequate funding for children with special educational needs and disabilities. The number of children and young people with SEND and Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) continues to increase, while the level and distribution of high-needs funding has simply not kept up; we are asking the government to follow through on the 2022 SEND green paper urgently, alongside funding reform and an audit of the sufficiency of special school places. We also need a consistent approach to up-skilling staff, so they’re recognised for and better able to support complex needs in a more inclusive system.
In 2018, we welcomed the National Funding Formula as a way of ensuring that funding is distributed fairly and while we continue to support it there are still disparities. We are calling for a review to ensure that as well as all schools receiving sufficient funding to sustain high quality education, they can meet the additional needs of vulnerable groups. Our funding ask is quite simple - funding must be reviewed to ensure that schools receive sufficient funding to sustain high-quality education and meet the additional needs of vulnerable groups.
On that note, please join our webinar on the 6 December, where Sam Henson, NGAs Director of Policy and Communications, will try to support you further with the challenges school and trust funding is facing: https://www.nga.org.uk/events/what-makes-schools-and-trusts-financially-efficient/
It is imperative for the next administration to take a moment to soak up your insights, and our manifesto is a key tool in addressing critical issues identified through your dedication, authentically speaking on behalf of diverse communities, and those who know how current education policy is or isn’t working on the ground.
And that leaves us with just one last big topic for 2024 – we will be reinvigorating our work on people and people strategies. People are always going to be at the heart of our education system and by developing our people we will improve schools and the pupils’ experience. Another of our seminars this week was on developing and retaining school staff. I am not going to rehearse the arguments for the need again here but I commend the seminar recording which will appear next week to you.
Moreover, the whole sector is now engaged on the endeavour of reducing the workload of teachers, leaders and other staff. The DfE has sent up a taskforce on the topic which NGA is pleased to be a part of, and we think good things may come from it. Any hour now we are expecting the first report to be published. You as governing boards are pivotal to making a difference on this.
Lastly, we want to thank you for what you do for your schools, your trusts, your pupils and your communities. You are civil society in action and we know that often at present there is much firefighting to be done which makes it hard to take the time to step back and consider what you are actually doing for the young people and say “yes, we are doing a good job for our children”. It is a privilege to serve you all.
I will quickly venture into the territory which strictly is that of our AGM, we want to extend our huge thanks to our departing trustees in recognition for all the time and energy they have input to steering NGA and holding me to account. I can hand-on-heart confirm that the role they play in ensuring NGA is an organisation which delivers effectively for our members and our Learning Link subscribers is crucial. Thank you your contributions, to NGA and for your support to me and your appointment of Emma.
Thanks to Howard Davies, Duncan Haworth who joined the board before we introduced maximum term of office so has served for many years, including as Treasurer for three years, but especially, thanks to Lynn Howard, our chair for the last three years. Lynn has listened, supported and challenged me in the best possible way - knowledgeably, authoritatively, kindly and ethically, absolutely always keeping the needs of our members tenaciously at the centre of what NGA does. Lynn leaves the board at the end of today’s AGM: she is someone I am proud to have reported to. Her judgement is second to none and she has been hugely generous with her time. In the same selfless way Lynn has chosen schools to govern where her skills, knowledge and time were needed the most. She has been exactly the sort of person an organisation like NGA needs to lead it: thank you.