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Challenge – what challenge?


So how big is the challenge facing the sector - and governing boards in particular - on school and trust leadership?

During COVID, most leaders stayed the course not wanting to leave their schools and communities in the lurch, but now like so many people as we come out of the pandemic period, many seem to be taking stock and thinking about moving on. There is nothing like reading articles like this week’s Schools Week to worry trustees and governors. It describes what could become a rather fraught situation with increasing numbers of exhausted leaders giving in their notice.  

Apart from the COVID blip, data had been moving this way for some time, there’s much commentary on what proportion of our leaders are coming up towards retirement and someone every so often predicts a ‘leadership crisis’.  At NGA we are careful with our language: I am purposefully avoiding the crisis word.  But all the information we have from our members confirms supporting and retaining leaders is a more significant issue than ever: it always has been vital but now there is a bit more of an edge to it.  Across the labour market, attitudes to work and working practices are changing, and there is no dispute – at least not amongst those who have experience of these things - that school leaders absolutely had a challenging time during COVID highlighted in a recent report in TES  about declining job satisfaction amongst leaders.

So, let’s call it the leadership challenge and accept it as a challenge. We can’t put our collective heads in the sand and just hope our executive leaders don’t hand in their notice.  So, on Tuesday 21 June with the support of the national leadership organisations – National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Institute of School and Business Leaders (ISBL) and HeadsUp4HTs - we will be delving into the challenge at one of our popular summer seminars.

There is so much boards can do, and indeed many have done, to establish a healthy culture, ensure leadership development, reasonable workload, promote wellbeing, succession planning and by offering support in all sorts of big and small ways. We have discussed these aspects for many years and NGA provides many resources – and of course needs to continue to do so. This critical role of governing boards will indeed be part of the conversation at the seminar, but we also need to be clear about whether there are solutions which are outside the gift of individual boards; outside the gift of NGA – where we need change at a sector level.

Please join us – the experience of trustees and governors in this debate is invaluable to findings solutions.

Emma Knights OBE
Emma Knights OBE

Co-Chief Executive

As NGA’s Co-Chief Executive, Emma promotes the interests of the school governance community nationally with legislators, policy makers, education sector organisations and the media. Emma is an accomplished writer and speaker on a range of school governance policy and practice topics.