Some years ago, the DfE decided it would be a good idea to introduce governance champions, experienced Governors who could work with Governing Boards to support them in their work as Governors. They snappily called them National Leaders of Governance, mirroring the titles of National Leaders of Education.
So who are these elusive characters?
National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) are experienced Chairs of Governors who have been selected via criteria set by the DfE to support Chairs of Governors in other Schools. They offer a free service to Chairs of Governors as a confidential mentoring service. This can be by face to face meetings, telephone or email support.
Some NLGs will also conduct External Reviews of Governance using a framework on behalf of the Department for Education. This a non-judgemental process designed to critically analyse all aspects of governance and suggest recommendations for more effective governance.
In extreme cases and where governance has been deemed as failing within a School, sometimes the DfE and the Local Education Authority will suggest that an Interim Executive Board is put in place. NLGs can be involved in these. Or NLGs can work with existing Governing Boards and take on an interim Chair’s role where there is a need for urgent additional governance capacity.
But the overall purpose of the NLGs is to offer support to help governance become more effective. This can mean mentoring or coaching of a Chair of Governors or other members of the Governing Board. This takes various formats and it can simply be short telephone conversations between the NLG and the Chair of Governors on a reassurance basis that the Chair of Governors is leading the Board effectively. Governance can be a very lonely role and being Chair of Governors can be quite an isolated role and so having an NLG as somebody to talk to and bounce ideas off is a good supportive infrastructure. NLGs will be happy to meet face to face and also to attend Governing Board meetings and then give feedback to the Chair of Governors. But this is not an inspection process and is not a judgemental process, it is an opportunity to share ideas for governance to become more effective.
The rationale behind all National Leaders of Governance is to improve the quality of governance within a School or within a Multi Academy Trust which will lead to school improvement. There should be evidence of sustained capacity for high quality governance which will be sustained into the future, so it should not be seen as a short-term quick fix. There needs to be an agreed investment of time by the Chair of Governors and also the NLG. This will be in proportion to the needs of the school, so less intensive intervention for schools which are already good but seeking to improve and longer and more intensive support for schools with identified weak governance or are in an Ofsted category of Requires Improvement or Inadequate.
The DfE keep a directory of National Leaders of Governance and this can be accessed using this link.
Don’t have an account? Register now to access training, peer-to-peer and mentor support, self-evaluation tools, useful resources and much more – all free of charge to you and your school!