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New guidance to support boards find their next chair


A new guide to succession planning published today (15 September) aims to help governing boards in all types of school structure, find their next chair and reduce the risk to governance of a chair stepping down without a successor in place. The guide is the result of collaboration between the National Governance Association (NGA) and two prominent national organisations that recruit and connect skilled volunteers who are interested in serving as school governors and trustees with schools in England: Inspiring Governance and Governors for Schools.

The guide sets out a succession planning cycle and strategic approach boards can take: It covers:

  • The role of the chair
  • What to consider when electing or appointing a chair
  • How succession planning is scheduled into the board’s annual cycle of business
  • Succession planning activities that work
  • Sharing leadership to support succession
  • How to access support

The guide comes as we release three reports based on data gathered from our annual governance survey 2022, a survey of over 4,000 governance professionals. The 2nd of the report, Governance volunteers and board practice, highlights the recruitment challenges faced by boards of all types. The report highlights that the number of governing board vacancies is at its highest since 2016 with 8% of respondents reported that their school or trust have two or more vacancies on their governing board – an increase of five percentage points from last year.

Steve Edmonds Director of Advice and Guidance at the National Governance Association:

“The challenge of recruiting volunteer governors, trustees and board leaders should not be underestimated and certainly isn’t by NGA. However, because many boards take a reactive approach to recruiting volunteers and identifying a capable chair, they often miss out on opportunities to recruit talent in their communities and make the most of the talent they have within their team. We are pleased therefore to have had the opportunity to work with Inspiring Governance and Governors for Schools to produce this guide, which we hope will encourage boards to take a long term view of succession planning.”


Dominic Judge, Director of Governance Programmes and Director of Education and employers at Inspiring Governance:

“We know from our Inspiring Governance volunteers that governing boards are packed with talent. This guide from the NGA and partners will help boards put in place the proper thinking, structures, and planning processes to identify and develop this talent and ensure a seamless succession for the chair role. Such a critical role in helping schools perform at their best, demands no less.”


Hannan Stolton CEO at Governors for Schools:

“We’re pleased to have had the opportunity to share our expertise in collaborating with the creation of this important guide. Such robust guidance is essential at a time when there are thousands of governor and trustee vacancies. The importance of forward thinking and succession planning is vital to ensure that boards have the experience, skills, commitment and differing perspectives needed.”