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What are NLGs and why might our school need one?

NLG mosaic

What are NLGs and why might our school need one?

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Martin MatthewsMartin Matthews is a National Leader of Governance, a chair of governors and has been a governor on several governing bodies across Greater Manchester as well as a Manchester Challenge governor champion. In the next few years Martin will have served more years as a governor than he has been alive – in the meantime he tweets at @mm684

My name is Martin and I’m an NLG.

There, that’s the confession part of this done.

What is a National Leader of Governance?

Being a National Leader of Governance (NLG) is more than a three-letter badge – if you think it’s an easy option then it’s not for you.  I’m often asked why I give my time as an NLG and the reason is that I really enjoy working with other governors. Almost all governors want the same thing – the very best education for every child in their school. Sometimes governors or a governing body need support to move forward or resolve an issue and NLGs are here to help. We don’t override any LA advice or support, but instead complement it. We don’t take over or tell you what to do, but we do help you see options available to you and can support your governing body to help resolve an issue.

This then begs some questions around NLGs – the why, what and who?

Why? What? Who?

The first NLGs were designated in April 2012. The reason the role was created was to provide peer-to-peer support for governance as none existed. Governance was seen as a niche area not supported by the system as a whole. In other words, headteachers recognised they couldn’t support governors and governing bodies. The intention was to have in excess of 500 NLGs by 2015 but this target still hasn’t been achieved. Juggling being a chair a volunteer and ordinary life isn’t easy.

Our core aim as NLGs is supporting and improving governance.

If your school is funded by taxpayers (that means a maintained school or an academy) we can help.

It doesn’t matter if its “moving from good to outstanding”, mentoring a new chair, “moving from special measures to academisation” or support for your own self-review. – if its governance it’s what we are about.

How does it work?

Schools select the NLG they feel is most appropriate to support them. A tool on the NCTL website allows you to download a list of all the NLGs in your region so you can pick and choose who to contact. If you find someone you like the look of or know them via social media etc. approach us directly. If we aren’t the right person we usually know someone who will be Finding an NLG couldn’t be easier. The NCTL even maintains a list of NLGs with Twitter accounts on its own account.

What’s the cost?

NLGs don’t charge for their time – that’s right, our time to you is free.  That doesn’t mean our time has no value or that our support is cheap in any way. We are volunteers exactly the same as all other governors. We all chair at least one governing body and we have volunteered to be assessed and managed by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). In other words, we are doing the same as the people we offer to support. We are quality assured in the same way as National Leaders of Education “superheads”. NLGs apply for the role and there are a number of application rounds a year. Application is open to anyone who meets the criteria set by the NCTL.

NLGs also feed back into the education system – I have contributed written evidence to House of Commons Education Committee inquiries three times. Being an independent voice means NLGs can often say things organisations can’t and many NLGs regularly attend system leader conferences where they make the voice of governance heard. They ensure our concerns are raised and included in the national agenda by contributing to national discussions, debates and research papers alongside educators – to make clear governors may be volunteers but it’s certainly professional.

If you want more details on what NLGs do, how to find one or if you want to apply please get in touch. Comment on this post, find me on Twitter  or join the School Governors UK Facebook group.


Image credits: Mosaic of Creative Commons images from Leo Reynolds – see NLG Flickr gallery for individual image details.


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