Find out about becoming a National Leader of Governance (NLG) and how to apply.


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

The National Governance Association is delivering the reformed NLG programme on behalf of DfE.

The National Governance Association will recruit, train and deploy a high-calibre team to deliver governance support. The high standard of NLGs required is reflected in the eligibility criteria. We welcome applications from all who meet the criteria. The National Governance Association is seeking a strong and diverse team of expert individuals.

NLGs will be contracted to the National Governance Association and paid a daily rate of £500.

Deployments will be based on a set number of days, depending on board and deployment type.

You should consider applying if you:

  • are interested in sharing your expertise
  • are interested in supporting improvements to governance in schools or academy trusts
  • have a track record in improving governance
  • meet the eligibility criteria


  1. Check that you meet the eligibility criteria before you apply.

  2. Check that you will be available to attend 2 virtual half-day pre-deployment training sessions on either 30 September and 1 October 2021 or 5 and 6 October 2021.

  3. Apply on the National Governance Association website by 9am on 29 July 2021.

You will be notified by the end of September 2021 if your application has been successful.

Eligibility criteria

To be considered, applicants must have:

  • a minimum 5 years’ school or trust board governance experience, including 3 years’ experience as a board chair or 5 years’ experience as a clerk or governance professional
  • a current role within governance which involves holding the executive to account, or a current clerk or governance professional role (unless in exceptional circumstances)
  • experience (as trustee, governor, clerk or governance professional) in at least 2 unrelated settings – one must be an academy trust board or a school governing board, one or more may be in a non-education setting

NLGs must also meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • currently a chair of a good or outstanding school according to Ofsted’s judgement, or chair or lead trustee in a trust that is not subject to a financial notice to improve or any other warning notice relating to financial management
  • demonstrate a track record in improving governance in a school or trust, resulting in an improved overall leadership and management Ofsted judgement or other objective measure
  • demonstrate a track record in providing effective professional services that have challenged and delivered improved governance in schools or trusts leading to an improved Ofsted judgement or other objective measure

Recruitment process

The recruitment process involves:

  • an application form with evidence of background and experience
  • 2 case studies with evidence of a track record of improving governance
  • a minimum of 2 referees
  • an interview and presentation

Successful applicants will undertake detailed training. They will commit to ongoing professional development and quality assurance.

The application process will be moderated by the Association of Education Advisors.

Applicants will be assessed using the NLG standards.

NLG standards

Standard 1: Professional credibility

NLGs must be able to:

  • demonstrate secure knowledge of governance practice required to deliver the 3 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

The key features of effective governance are laid out in the governance handbook. The Academies Financial Handbook lays out additional guidance for academy trusts.

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


Email [email protected] if you have any questions about the application process.

Published 21 March 2014
Last updated 30 June 2021 + show all updates

  1. Applications are open for the National Leaders of Governance programme. Apply by 9am on 29 July 2021.

  2. Removed sentence and link to registering your interest in the ‘Apply’ section.

  3. Removed contact details for teaching school and system leader help desk.

  4. National leaders of governance application round open

  5. Details of the next application round.

  6. NLG cohort 10 target areas added

  7. New application round date for March 2017.

  8. The NLG application round has now closed.

  9. Application round open

  10. Application round is now closed.

  11. Application round open.

  12. New application round opening Monday 5 October 2015.

  13. Application round now open

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  17. New application round open dates.

  18. First published.