National Leaders of Governance: what do they do?


You might have heard of National Leaders of Governance but might be unfamiliar with what they do.

The Department for Education (DfE) explains that National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) are expert trustees, governors and governance professionals who deliver targeted DfE funded governance support to help secure effective governance in schools and trusts.

A list of all the National Leaders of Governance can be found here.

We have published another support article providing an overview of the role of governors in schools.

The National Governance Association (NGA) is delivering the reformed NLG programme.

NLGs will be contracted to the NGA and paid a daily rate of £500. Deployments will be based on a set number of days, depending on board and deployment type.

In this support article, we explain what National Leaders of Governance do and outline the NLG standards.

National Leaders of Governance: what do they do?

Gloucestershire County Council explains National Leaders of Governance focus on developing leadership capacity and can provide support to a chair of governors in a school:

  • Where the chair is new
  • Where working practice for a chair, headteacher or leadership group need developing
  • In transition to academy status
  • With an Ofsted or local authority category – or at risk of going into one where attainment is below the current minimum standards set by the government

Support can be delivered face-to-face, by telephone or by email.

The Greater Manchester Learning Partnership outlines examples of deployments as follows:

Improving school performance:

  • Supporting the chair to focus more closely on raising standards and leading improvement
  • Helping the chair to understand and interpret strategic school/academy data

Supporting the relationship between headteacher and chair:

  • Coaching a chair in developing solutions to identified problems or in providing more effective challenge to senior leaders
  • Helping the chair establish and develop an effective professional relationship with the headteacher/principal

Skills and understanding of governance

  • Helping the chair to better evaluate their own performance and develop their leadership, effectiveness and confidence
  • Observing a governing body meeting and providing advice to the chair on procedures, protocols and behaviours
  • Helping the chair identify priorities for governing body development and draw up an action plan
  • Mentoring a chair to provide support through a particular process, for example relating to complaints or staffing related issues
  • Providing expertise to help with an aspect of a governing bodies work
  • Signposting or brokering additional training and support
  • Facilitating a board self-review or undertaking an external review of governance
  • Supporting aspects of federation or academy conversion

National Leaders of Governance standards

The NLG standards are:

Standard 1: Professional credibility

NLGs must be able to:

  • Demonstrate secure knowledge of governance practice required to deliver the three core functions of governance (clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction, holding executive leaders to account for educational performance, and overseeing the financial performance of the organisation) to a consistently high standard
  • Demonstrate a strong track record of effective governance and leadership of governance in educational organisations, including the ability to exercise strategic expertise and judgement
  • Have a comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of sources of support and guidance available to support the improvement of governance, and proactively update their own expertise regularly

Standard 2: Problem solving and influencing for improvement

NLGs must be able to:

  • Apply their knowledge of governance practice to identify and analyse the complex causes of weak governance and clearly articulate their findings
  • Design appropriately targeted plans for governance improvement which are based on reliable diagnosis and align with school or trust improvement priorities – plans will be realistic, appropriately sequenced, suited to the context, identify risks and barriers, optimise existing capacity, and make effective use of wider sources of support
  • Evaluate progress in implementing governance improvement plans, identify the impact, and show the necessary honesty and courage to reshape them where needed
  • Demonstrate strong interpersonal skills to build positive relationships with chairs and trustees in order to influence their practice – they need to challenge constructively, delivering hard messages at times, and demonstrate evidence of the willingness to make difficult decisions when required, as well as empowering those responsible for governance and imparting a sense of ownership

Standard 3: Capacity building and knowledge transfer to ensure sustainability

NLGs must be able to strengthen:

  • The robust strategic thinking of those involved in governance, leading to an ambitious vision, with a strong and positive culture, which shapes the school’s or trust’s provision
  • Organisational governance by ensuring that governance, school and executive leaders are able to identify and focus on improving targeted areas
  • Governance development by applying their expertise to enable those involved in governance to shape the well-planned, coherent and evidence-informed building of capacity and skills, as referenced in the competency framework for governance

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