Monday, 8 November 2010

Longevity of Chairs

I have decided to blog more often about School Governing news & issues.

Many of you will know that I run a micro blogging service called @schoolgoverning on twitter which covers news and issues on School Governing & education.

Sometimes you can't fit everything you want to say in 140 characters so I will use this blog to expand on School Governor hot topics or Education subjects that have got me hot under the collar.

Today I want to discuss longevity of Chair of Governors. Over the weekend I read an article entitled ‘When enough is enough’ by Stephen Adamson in the National Governors Association (NGA) magazine called 'Matters Arising' (November/December issue).

Stephen Adamson is a Vice Chair of the NGA and Chair of the NGA's policy committee. He is also the founder and managing director of Adamson Publishing which publishes the School Governors' Year Book among other titles

In his article Stephen supports the NGA policy view that a Chair of Governors should serve a maximum six year term of office to avoid staleness, cosiness and coasting along.

I think it is slightly amusing that Stephen's half page article shares the page with article about a long serving governor called Jo Wakeman receiving a MBE for 27 years service to Education. To be fair to Jo it appears she has had varied governor roles within those 27 years.
Within the NGA policy published on their website it says:

‘The role of the Chair of the governing body is a crucial one and the NGA supports the proposal in the Ministerial Review on Governance (April 2010) that there should be an expectation that Chairs should undergo specific training. Although there is no legal constraint on the length of time a Chair of governors can serve, the NGA also believes that an element of regular reappraisal and renewal is beneficial to all schools, and that all Chairs should normally expect to step down after a maximum of six years in post.’

Personally I agree with this view and the revolving leadership model in Governing bodies. Of course there will always be the argument that no-one else wants to step forward or they are such a good chair we don't want to lose them.

Chairs should also be subject to succession plans. I am starting year two as Chair of Governors at a Surrey infant school but have openly told my head and governing body I plan to serve no more than five years as chair of governors.

After five years I will look for a new challenge possibly Chairing another governing body with different challenges.

I would be interested to hear what other people think about this subject.


Sean Whetstone @SchoolGoverning on Twitter


  1. Its a great topic. When is enough, enough? When do I hand over to a fresh pair of hands?
    I heard a story about a new Chairman who, on taking office, told his board that he had already written and signed his resignition letter. All it needed was a date.
    He gave the letter to the Clerk on the basis that anyone could request it, should they feel he had passed his "best by" date.
    I have no idea how long he lasted, but my guess is about the right amount of time...

  2. Wow Ed what a great idea! I am great believer in re-cycling great ideas so I think I will pen my letter resignation myself and hand to my new clerk on the same basis.

  3. I have been on my governing body since 1996 and we've had the same chair the whole time.

    She does a great job and continues to enjoy the support of the rest of the governing body. She has the happy knack of letting everyone feel they've had their say without letting meetings drag on and on.

    As I'm the vice chair I'm in no hurry to see her move on!