Over the past decade, the National Governance Association (NGA) has been encouraging academy trusts to look beyond the school sector and embrace their place in the charity sector, absorbing the best of its practice and its debates. This cross-sector learning is especially crucial as academy trusts which now educate over half of state school pupils in England are charities, albeit exempt charities, with the Secretary of State for Education as the principal regulator.
As the expert organisation for school governors, trustees and governance professionals, NGA has been campaigning to raise the profile and status of governance professionals serving schools and trusts for years. There has been some notable progress with the Department for Education increasingly acknowledging their importance in improving governance. We are pleased to partner with The Chartered Governance Institute on our level 3 accredited development programme and gain that crucial learning from other sectors.
2021 is our year for a concerted campaign to raise the visibility of governance in schools and trusts. This month we are focusing on the role of the governance professional, traditionally referred to in our sector as clerks, but who now have many other titles, reflecting different governance structures and different choices by academy trusts. Clerking has always been a varied profession with practitioners who are school employees (often with another role in the school), employees of traded clerking services and as independent service providers, doing slightly different versions of broadly the same job for a single school governing board. As multi-academy trusts have grown and their governance matured, the clerking profession has evolved too. In medium-sized and larger trusts, a senior level governance professional leads and coordinates governance support across the trust with oversight of the service below trust board level provided by academy committee clerks.
So as well as asking governance professionals and their boards to make some noise about the difference governance support makes, there are some very distinct ways you can contribute if you are a serving school and trust governance professional:
- Complete our survey to build a picture of career aspirations and needs and identify opportunities and solutions to support career progression and CPD. What is the profession you want to see grow, and how might this be best achieved? Please get your voice heard.
- We want to celebrate those governance professionals who go above and beyond, provide an outstanding service to their boards, and so have included two categories in our Outstanding Governance Awards 2021: Outstanding clerk to a governing board and Outstanding lead governance professional. Nominations are open until 26 April, so please think about nominating someone you think deserves recognition.
- On the 30 and 31 March, NGA is holding its annual conference for clerks and other governance professionals serving schools and academy trusts. The conference is an established event in NGA’s calendar, free to our members, although of course not being held face to face this year. Please do meet and share with colleagues and experts and hear the latest thinking from the Department for Education.
We are at an absolutely pivotal time in developing the profession in the school' sector. It is pleasing to be able to report we are now really gaining momentum in raising its profile. Please join in this movement to improve governance in our schools and academy trusts to provide our pupils with the education they deserve. Our experience, I hope, will then, in turn, help inform other sectors, in particular, the charity sector too.
National Governance Association