From education to employment

National leaders of governance: a guide for potential applicants

Find out about becoming a national leader of governance (NLG), what’s involved and how to apply.


If you’re an experienced chair of governors who is interested in supporting chairs of governors in other schools, you can apply to be a National Leader of Governance (NLG). This is part of the government’s plan to give schools a central role in developing a self-improving and sustainable school-led system.

Target areas

Target areas will be published when the next application round opens.


The application round is now closed.

Who can apply

You must be an experienced chair of governors with:

  • excellent leadership skills
  • a track record of raising school or academy performance in at least 1 school
  • the skills to influence improvement by supporting or challenging headteachers, or principals
  • a track record of implementing and sustaining effective governance in at least 1 school

To be successful in your application, you must:

  • have a strong track record
    • for leading school improvement, evidenced by pupil performance data
    • in relationship management within and beyond your school
    • of effective governance
  • be chair of a school with sustained high pupil performance and progress over the last 3 years and be above current floor standards
  • have at least 2 years’ experience as a chair of governors in the last 5 years
  • have the ability to support other chairs to strengthen their governing body, using your coaching and mentoring skills
  • be committed to quality of education for all students, including those in schools you are not accountable for
  • be able to meet the time commitment
  • have the full support of your governing body
  • have written support from a commissioner of school-to-school support, such as local authority, teaching school alliance, dioceses or regional schools commissioner’s office who would be willing to deploy you as a NLG if you were to be designated

Read the NLG eligibility criteriaNLG eligibility criteria (PDF, 149KB, 4 pages) for further information.

Independent school applicants

Independent schools must have been judged good by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) or the School Inspection Service (SIS).

Read the NLG eligibility criteriaNLG eligibility criteria (PDF, 149KB, 4 pages) for further information.

What a NLG does

NLGs concentrate on developing school governance capacity and expertise. In some cases, they work in partnership with a national leader of education or a teaching school alliance.

If selected, you’ll provide support to a chair of governors in a school meeting one or more of the following criteria:

  • identified as being in need of significant improvement by the Department for Education, Ofsted, a teaching school, local authority or diocese
  • where attainment is below the current minimum standards set by the government
  • in transition to academy status or multi-academy trust
  • where the chair of governors is new
  • where working practices for a chair, headteacher or leadership group need developing

NLGs provide support:

  • face to face
  • by telephone
  • by email

Some NLGs will provide short-term support to governing bodies, for example by joining an interim executive board or chairing a governing body in severe difficulties.

NLGs may also do external reviews of governance.

NLGs need to work proactively with at least one teaching school alliance, local authority or diocese who will help identify schools that need NLG support.

Time commitment

You will be expected to support at least one school per year. You will be expected to provide the first 5 days of support per financial year free of charge. Any additional days per year may be charged to the recipient or commissioner of support and you will need to negotiate any costs and payment arrangements in advance.


A grant (up to £2,000 in the financial year 2017 to 2018) will be paid to your school to cover the costs of reasonable expenses incurred when you’re undertaking or preparing for deployments (expenses may include travel, subsistence, stationery or telephone costs).

NLG grant funding can also be used to fund training and development for your governing body.

Your school will be required to complete an annual grant funding evaluation return to account for the spending of the grant.

School-to-school support directory

We maintain a school-to-school support directory for people looking to commission the services of NLGs and other system leaders. Details of all designated system leaders, including NLGs will be placed on to the directory.

How the programme works

Training induction event

If successful, you’ll attend a training induction event that provides:

  • essential information about the role
  • the tools and techniques for effective school-to-school support
  • an opportunity to meet other NLGs

Supporting other chairs of governors

Principles of NLG deployments

All NLG deployments 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 multi-academy trust so that quality of governance is sustained into the future
  • agree an end date at the start of the placement (maximum initial length of up to 3 to 4 terms)
  • be an investment of NLG time and expertise in proportion to the level of need of the school (for example: short, or less intensive intervention in schools which are already good or have strong governance but are seeking to improve, and longer, more intensive support for schools in requires improvement, coasting or with identified weak governance)

Examples of deployments:

  • mentoring of chair and/or members of the school’s governing body
  • external reviews of governance (NLGs who have completed Department for Education training)
  • chair or membership of an interim executive board
  • chair or leadership role of governing body of school/multi-academy trust where the school has been identified as needing urgent additional governance capacity

Contact us


Email[email protected]

Further information on external reviews of governance, national leaders of governance and leadership development opportunities for governors.

Published 21 March 2014
Last updated 29 March 2019 + show all updates

  1. Removed sentence and link to registering your interest in the ‘Apply’ section.
  2. Removed contact details for teaching school and system leader help desk.
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  7. The NLG application round has now closed.
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  10. Application round open.
  11. New application round opening Monday 5 October 2015.
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