Skip to content
School & trust leaders

Senior executive leaders and governing boards working together, reflecting together


We are adding a new dimension to NGA membership in 2021: governance leadership forums. What do we mean by governance leadership? Chairs, co-chairs and vice-chairs of boards, alongside their senior executive leaders. Having the ability to offer virtual events has made this possible.

What’s more, our members have asked us for an opportunity to meet with those who govern in the same types of schools and trusts, so we are able to do that too. 

Single academy trusts (SATs) in particular have been saying that ‘NGA does a lot for multi academy trusts (MATs), but what about us?’. So we are starting the new series off with the event for SATs.

These will provide a networking event for those governing and leading schools in similar situations to share their experiences and future plans. The first forum will focus on the future of single academy trusts within a system which increasingly emphasises formal groups of schools, providing an open discussion to support and empower the leaders of SATs as they think ahead strategically. Future meetings of the forum will be led by members: and could include invited speakers.

So, why a governance leadership forum?

When we published ‘Chairing a board: developing governance, sharing leadership’ last term, we promised to provide chairs forum, but after taking soundings, we are extending them to school and trust leaders because:

  1. Governance requires a strong partnership between the governing board and the senior executive leader – the headteacher or the chief executive – and their team. Building relationships based on trust is one of NGA’s eight elements of effective governance, and there is a chapter on the relationship with the senior executive leader in the Chair’s Handbook in which I explore some of the subtilties of this. And the same is said by those writing for headteachers and chief executives, for example, introducing his book, Being the CEO, to Governing Matters readers in 2019 Michael Pain said “The CEO should embrace the advice and guidance of a board of trustees who can bring a level of insight appropriate to the scale of the organisation and its influence; not having access to a good board is a real danger for a CEO and should be a big consideration when taking on the job”. So we at NGA need to practice what we preach and provide opportunities to help build those relationships.
  2. For years NGA has been convinced that the topic of governance has not featured highly enough in senior leadership development programmes in the schools sector. I was pleased when the latest headteacher standards published in the autumn had governance wrapped around them, but we have yet to see whether that will translate into better coverage in future programmes. But what better way for senior leaders to improve governance knowledge and practice by attending sessions together with their board’s chair and vice chair, led by governance experts committed to supporting all those involved in the governance endeavour.
  3. They will provide a thinking space for chairs, vice chairs and leaders to reflect together about what the future holds and generate possibilities for addressing those challenges and opportunities. So often board meetings are concentrating on the fiduciary: ensuring compliance and proper stewardship; with some opportunity to focus on strategy, but sometimes only annually and certainly less than usual during the pandemic. Yet that sounding board role played by chairs and vice chairs has been invaluable over this period for many leaders. It should be nurtured with time and knowledge, reinforcing their common understanding of the mission and sense of a joint enterprise.  

We hope to see you there, chairs, vice chairs and leaders, together, but if only one of you can make the date, you are of course equally welcome.

And this is different from NGA’s Leading Governance offer

Lastly this new free offer for all our members is not to be confused with our well-established Leading Governance development programmes, which for the last four years have been funded by the Department for Education (DfE). Sadly, for those chairs and future chairs who have not yet benefited from the programme, this DfE funding has now ended. But these well-rounded programmes have been shown to make a difference, and so we will continue to run them for a fee to cover the costs. For further information see the Leading Governance page.

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.