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Career pathway: lead governance professional level

Working at this level requires strategic management of services that support governing boards and securing effective governance across a number of schools.

Working at lead governance professional level

Lead governance professionals are responsible for the overall strategic management of services that support governing boards and ensure effective governance across a number of schools. Roles at this level have high levels of complexity and direct accountability.

Those working in multi academy trusts also have significant responsibilities relating to the governance of the trust under charity law.

Governance professionals working at this level are more likely to be employed than self-employed and work full time hours. Some employers combine the lead governance professional and governance coordinator levels to best fit their structure.

Pay at clerking lead governance professional level

There is no standard salary structure for school governance professionals. Your salary will be set by your employer and varies according to duties, level of responsibility, accountability and other factors.

Our research shows that on average a school governance professional working at this level earns the full time equivalent of between £39,000 and £41,000 per annum. However, salaries at this level do vary more according to structure and are often much higher (in excess of £50,000) than the average referred to above.

  • The indicative salary range quoted for those working at clerking level is broadly in line with the Chartered Governance Institute estimate for a trainee governance professional in the public sector and not-for-profit organisations.
  • In contrast, the indicative salary range quoted for those working as a lead governance professional is significantly below the Chartered Governance Institute estimate for a qualified and experienced company secretary.
  • While pay is not the only factor that influences career decisions, it does rank highly amongst them. Governance professionals working in the schools’ system who link  their career trajectory to pay, may aspire to work in more lucrative sectors, where six figure salaries for senior governance professionals are not unknown. 
  • report published by Governorhub in 2023, uses the career pathway to explore pay and working patterns for governance professionals in schools and trusts. The report includes recommendations for negotiating pay, which both governance professionals and employers might find useful.

Example roles

  • lead governance professional 
  • head of governance
  • director of governance
  • team leader: governor services

Roles at this level are generally employed in:

  • multi academy trusts as part of the central support team — in some trusts, the lead governance professional is also a member of the executive leadership team
  • local authority and commercial providers of governance services

What your role is likely to involve

Find out what typical tasks and areas of work you can expect to be involved in at lead governance professional level.

Refer to our role description for more detailed information.

  • providing direction and advice to a group of schools
  • in a multi academy trust: working closely with the CEO and chair of the board to ensure the organisation’s vision is implemented through governance
  • in local authority and commercial service providers: working with other strategic and operational leads in the organisation
  • leading high quality support for a trust board and its committees
  • monitoring governance compliance across a group of schools
  • leading targeted support and governance improvement work
  • developing and quality assuring governance support to a group of schools
  • organising and delivering training and conferences
  • wider contribution to the development of policy, practice and thought leadership within the organisation
  • underpinning governance arrangements, such as schemes of delegation
  • in a multi-academy trust: ensuring models of governance evolve in parallel with the trust’s strategy for future development and growth
  • in a local authority and commercial service provider: developing and maintaining service delivery options, service level agreements and pricing structures
  • policy approval arrangements
  • risk registers and guidance
  • role descriptions
  • codes of conduct
  • identifying and developing governors and trustees for specific roles
  • developing a support structure of roles
  • overseeing induction/training/professional support of governance support team roles
  • conducting appraisal and quality assurance 
  • succession planning
  • the formal duties of a company secretary, such as filing returns to companies house

  • being the designated lead on statutory compliance areas, such as admissions or data protection.

  • undertaking wider central support activities

  • managing other staff

Qualifications, knowledge and skills

In most cases employers look for candidates educated to degree level or equivalent, experience of working in a senior governance/operations role and relevant experience within an education and or service (legal, commercial, charity etc.) environment. As well as:

Governance professionals at this level are more likely to hold a level four qualification and be working towards a postgraduate degree level governance qualification.

Gained through induction and maintained by CPD

  • extensive knowledge of the schools system
  • extensive knowledge of governance law, structures, policy and practice in all types of state school
  • awareness of current thinking and thought leadership relating to the governance of schools and academy trusts
  • understanding of charity law and governance in other sectors
  • high level communication and IT
  • high level strategic planning
  • decision making based on intelligent assessment of risk and benefits
  • commercial acumen
  • interpersonal/relationship building/stakeholder engagement skills
  • leadership and line management: planning and coordinating the work of others
  • presentation and facilitation skills
  • personal integrity and commitment to the principles of public life
  • respecting confidentiality
  • confidence and influence as a senior leader
  • can manage and make decisions independently
  • ability to lead by example, coach, motivate and inspire others
  • agile thinker
  • innovator
  • calm and resilient under pressure
  • commitment to CPD and modelling this to others

Your working hours and conditions

Working hours and conditions are determined on an individual basis through a contract or service level agreement. At this level they typically involve:

  • full time working (approximately 37 hours per week)
  • some flexible working arrangements, such as banked hours and term time only
  • routinely attending a central office    
  • attending meetings outside of normal office hours
  • travelling to attend meetings at schools served by the trust/organisation  
  • an annual performance appraisal

Development at this level

All governance professionals should receive an induction, arranged through their employer, that is tailored to fit their professional background and experience.

Most access the following to maintain their CPD: 

  • studying for specialist governance qualifications 
  • attending courses
  • engaging with professional networks
  • receiving and providing coaching and mentoring
  • contributing to peer support (e.g. mentoring others)  
  • researching specific topics and staying up to date with developments in education and school governance

Governance professionals working at this level are likely to have volunteered as a school governor or trustee, and  continue to govern as part of their CPD. This includes in different governing structures and leadership roles like chair of the board, a committee or a panel.

Career pathway

Becky and Maria’s career stories

Becky and Maria had different beginnings to their careers as governance professionals and different experiences along the way. But both agree that it is a great job with many opportunities that they hadn’t anticipated at the outset.

Watch the video to learn more about how their careers have progressed, what has changed during their careers and their top tips for other governance professionals.

  • “I act as a link between the trust board and trust executive. I really believe that education can change young people’s lives – I like the social purpose of working in education to support that."

    Adam Marham

    Working as head of governance in a multi academy trust

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