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Governance Professionals Network Meeting Q&A

At our recent governance professional network meeting, we welcomed over 330 governance professionals who had heard from a range of excellent speakers. There were many issues covered and the chat was as lively as ever. We have highlighted here some key questions raised and answers from NGA as well as suggestions from those at the meeting:

Lady smiling in meeting

At our recent governance professional network meeting, we welcomed over 330 governance professionals who had heard from a range of excellent speakers. There were many issues covered and the chat was as lively as ever. We have highlighted here some key questions raised and answers from NGA as well as suggestions from those at the meeting:

How do governance professionals under an SLA manage excessive demands?

NGA: Referring to NGA’s appraisal form for governance professionals might help prompt a conversation around this. There is also guidance on drafting service level agreements.

Participants: Review the SLA details to confirm what is and is not included and what work might incur extra time and, therefore, an extra charge.

I have a governor who does not use IT for anything.  No email, training etc.  His term of office is coming to an end but the Headteacher and Chair ideally want him to stay even though he has no access to emails, no access to GovernorHub.  He does not access the majority CPD which is undertaken via eLearning.  He never responds to text messages.  He cannot keep up-to-date with things. Any advice?

Participants: Lack of IT, while frustrating is not a reason to remove a governor. I work in a school in an area of high deprivation - lots of families have no IT - that should not be a barrier to their engaging as a governor. However, my school would be extremely uneasy at having hard copies of paperwork. You could include IT use in your code of conduct ie use of IT, will attend training (both in person and online), use of Governor hub etc.

NGA: To encourage governors or trustees to access all aspects of their role and to make relevant adjustments for those who may find IT challenging, first and foremost build a supportive professional relationship with them.  Though regular contact, particularly through induction where governors or trustees are new to the post, explain the importance of secure communication methods, keeping within GDPR and ensuring training methods are flexible. You could also:

  • Arrange for them to use IT resources in school to access online documents, training, etc
  • If possible, meet them at the school and support them in accessing online training
  • Discuss with them the best way to help them access governance information and messages

Where paper copies need to be provided, arrange for them to be accessed on the school premises at a mutually convenient time before each meeting and then disposed of immediately after the meeting

We often talk about operational v strategic and when things stray into being too operational. Does anyone have any suggestions of resources/training modules etc which make the distinction a bit clearer?

NGA: NGA include this in training that covers governance roles and responsibilities - we have a face-to-face training session that can be tailored to your school or trust and an e-learning module. It can help to look at the sorts of questions governors or trustees ask to help bring this to life in a tangible way—some examples here: 

Participants: It is also helpful to ensure SLT and members of staff meeting with governors or trustees are fully informed about what they should expect from their link governors or trustees, as well as ensuring the governor understands their role.

Is there any update on the Anti-fraud and Corruption Act and how to process new trustees?

NGA: The latest updates from the government can be found on their website. 

Could you please post a link to the Governance workload research document?

NGA: You can access the report here.

Recruitment is even harder now governors for schools and other sites no longer offer a free recruitment service.  What are other’s solutions to finding skilled potential governors where there is not a recruitment fee?

Participants: A social media campaign helped. An idea of how being a governor can benefit the potential governor eg in their own career, could be part of recruitment information. We put a proper advert out, like you would do for a paid position. Interested parties have to complete an application form and provide referees for us to obtain testimonials.  We interview them all and then make a decision. If we have more applicants than vacancies for governor or trustee roles and the unsuccessful candidates have the right skill set, we appoint them as Associate governors or trustees.  This has really helped with succession planning. We have found the most success with direct approaches and letting staff know that we are looking (not just for Parent Governors) in case they might know of anyone. Subsequently having an informal chat with potential governors in the first instance to see whether both parties feel it could work (maybe a meeting with CoG and/or HT) - sharing expectations about the role, etc.

NGA: For more information on recruitment see our blog and our guidance.

Do you have any advice on recruiting parents in a Special needs school?

Participants: I've found the Headteacher is key to this - their personal knowledge of parents and the ability to mention governance in a chat, has yielded some strong board members. We hold meetings during the day to support parents with childcare.

Do elected positions have to be re-elected when a maintained school's governing board reconstitutes as a local governing board of a MAT?

Participants: It depends on the MAT. Some will say all positions start again from the conversion date, some say to continue roles in their current term. It may be that some/none of them will be able to be governors in a MAT depending upon the governance structure. If they come from a SAT it is unlikely that they will be trustees of the MAT Board so having these discussions early is absolutely key so everyone understands what a new role might look like.

Do you have anything you could share regarding the difference in roles for maintained/MAT governors, please?

NGA: You may find our role description for local governors useful

Participants: Although governors would have to read the trust's scheme of delegation to fully understand the responsibilities.

I completed “GovernorSpace Clerking Development Programme” which was funded by the DfE in 2019, this was a programme and not a “certificate” but the content looks the same.  Please can you advise?

Participants: I completed that back in 2019 and am now on the NGA course, it is quite different, much more detailed and really gets you thinking about your role.  Lots of training included and meeting other clerks.

These are the kinds of governance questions that the GOLDline deal with often, so if you have a GOLD membership and would like bespoke expert advice, you can raise a gold request here. You can also contact us at & 0121 237 3782.

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