Who are National Leaders of Governance and what do they do?

National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) are experienced chairs of school or academy governdownload-1ing bodies, including multi-academy trust (MAT) boards. NLGs were first introduced in 2012 as part of the government’s drive to support the development of school system leadership.  Currently there are over 500 NLGs nationally.  The programme is administered by the National College of Teaching and Learning (NCTL) as part of the Teaching School and National Leaders of Education (NLE) initiative.

Chairs of governors who wish to be designated as NLGs are required to apply as part of a national application process.  They must be chairs of schools or academies that have been judged by Ofsted to be either good or outstanding in their school’s most recent inspection report where governance has been judged to be a strength.  They need to provide evidence of effective support for rapid school improvement in schools and to demonstrate a clear understanding of what constitutes effective school governance and, in particular, the role of chair. They must also show a good understanding of current changes in school governance, in particular the move towards academisation and establishing MATs. As part of the accreditation process, the headteacher of the school from which they are applying is asked to provide a reference focussing on the effectiveness of the working relationship between the school leader and the chair. Once accredited, NLGs are required to undertake an intensive induction programme including developing their understanding of coaching and mentoring skills and undertaking external reviews of governance.

NLGs concentrate on developing school governance capacity.  In some cases, they work in partnership with a NLE to strengthen wider school leadership.  They provide support to chairs of governors and through the chair to wider group of governors in schools:

  • that have been identified as being in need of significant improvement;
  • where attainment is below current minimum standards;
  • that are in transition to academy status or joining a MAT;
  • where the chair is new; or
  • where working practices and/or relationships for a chair, headteacher or leadership group need further development.

NLGs provide mentoring/coaching support primarily to chairs of governors although this can extend to a wider group of governors. Some NLGs provide short-term support to governing bodies, for example by joining an interim executive/management board (IE/MB).  Support can be delivered face-to face, by telephone or by e-mail. Most deployments last 3 – 4 terms.

NLGs who have undertaken the appropriate training are also accredited to undertake external reviews of governance for individual schools and/or MATs to a rigorous review framework approved by the DfE and NCtL.  Schools that are judged by Ofsted to require a governance review are expected to commission such this review from an accredited NLG.

It is expected that all NLG placements should:

  • improve the quality of governance within a school or specific group of schools leading to school improvement;
  • build sustained capacity for high quality governance within the school or MAT so that quality of governance is sustained into the future;
  • enable schools with identified weaknesses in governance to sustainably improve; and
  • support schools that already have strong governance to improve to become outstanding

Accredited NLG’s are required to provide the equivalent of 10 days of free support for schools each year.  After this commitment has been fulfilled, they may charge for their time. NCTL keeps a directory of current NLGs who can be commissioned by local authorities, teaching school alliances, MATs and individual schools.

It is likely that the cohort of NLGs who gained accreditation in June 2016 will be the last to be appointed nationally although there may be further targeted recruitment where there is a current shortage of governance support.

At a time when the effectiveness and impact of school and MAT governance is coming under increasing scrutiny, the experience and expertise offered by accredited NLGs is particularly important. Navigate works with associates with NLG accreditation who can apply their skills, experience and expertise to a wide range of governance issues. Navigate brings over ten years’ experience of working with colleagues at a senior level in the education sector. Throughout, we have maintained a positive and high profile as well as a strong reputation for high quality delivery across the sector. We bring a fresh and distinctive approach to all aspects of our work – from leadership recruitment to the set-up and growth of Multi Academy Trusts.

Running a MAT is a demanding job and senior roles in MATs carry very particular duties and responsibilities. To be a successful CEO or FD, candidates need a strong knowledge and understanding of school improvement, good governance structures, financial and business management processes as well as bringing good leadership and change management skills. Navigate draws on the experience of our in-house team, as well as our team of highly-qualified associates, to support and develop leaders at all levels throughout the sector, but most specifically induction training and ongoing coaching and mentoring of MAT CEOs and FDs.