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Join Us - we are looking for more members to support Governors and Trustees

Independent Governor Support (IGovS) are a group of ex-National Leaders of Governance (NLGs) whose members are Chairs or Vice Chairs in both the maintained and academy sectors. We possess a vast range of skills, knowledge, and experience, meaning we have supported 1000’s of Governors, Trustees, Chairs, Vice Chairs, Heads, CEO, Governance professionals and Clerks over many years in a range of ways. We are based across the country so working virtually means that we can support anyone involved in school governance wherever they are based. Telephone calls, emails, and Direct Messages via Social Media are always welcome.

Please note we will do our very best to offer our support and guidance for free. However, if a member is asked to travel a significant distance or longer-term significant support is needed, then that member is entitled to negotiate a consultancy fee, which will be set independently of this website and of course with the agreement of the supported person or school. 

PETER GREGORY

Peter has been involved in school governance roles since 1985 and over that time has been a staff governor, parent governor, LA governor, foundation governor, Trustee and Member of several MATs as well as an IEB member in various schools and Trusts. ​He has lead many governance teams and is currently a Co-Vice Chair of an through Federation, Chair of a CofE (VA) School and a governor of small rural school Federation - besides involvement on two MATs based in the South East. A trained educator he works across all phases and types of schools and to ensure the best educational experience can be secured for learners. Designated as a National Leader of Governance until 2021, Peter additionally was NLG Advocate for three different regions and also chaired the Kent and Medway NLG group. He is passionately committed to developing good governance for schools and has supported a large number of governors and governing bodies. He continues to offer support as a Local Lead Governor (LLG) in Kent and is prepared to travel across the SE and parts of London for face to face meetings or 1:1 conversations as well as offer telephone or online support. Peter was DfE trained to carry out External Reviews of Governance (ERG) and has organised conferences, exploratory strategy meetings and supported the training programmes of LAs and Diocese authorities. He continues to provide support and bespoke training as required.

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NEIL YATES

Neil was a foundation governor in a one-form entry Catholic primary school in East Lancashire from 2002 until his retirement from the board in July 2021. He became Chair of Governors in 2012 and occupied that role until his resignation overseeing two OFSTED inspections where the school was deemed “Good.” In 2016 Neil was appointed as a National Leader of Governance (NLG) and was trained later that year in conducting External Reviews of Governance. In 2020-21 Neil undertook seven reviews of governance, all in primary maintained schools, and mentored one chair formally and others informally. Neil is a tutor for Lancashire’s Governor Services writing and delivering governor training. He is a regular contributor to social media groups such as @ukgovchat.  Neil’s particular area of interest is around culture and ethos and ensuring these, and schools’ values, are intertwined in an ambitious, timed and measurable vision for the school or academy. Neil’s specific area of expertise would be in the primary maintained sector. Although he is based in North West England he can communicate with all governors without subtitles!

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LINDA CHRISTIAN

Linda has been a school governor since 1991 in a number of Primary and Secondary Schools. She is currently Chair of a Voluntary Aided Church of England Primary School, Chair of a Local Governing Board, part of a large Multi Academy Trust and Governor of a Special School. Linda has vast experienced as a governor, often asked to chair complaints, exclusion, capability and appeals panels. ​She was designated a National Leader of Governance in 2016 and has mentored many chairs and boards, supporting their focus on the three core functions of governance.  She had informally supported other chairs prior to her designation. Linda has over 30 years experience in education as a teacher, her ambition from the age of 5 and as a governor.

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TIFFANY BECK OBE

​Tiffany Beck was a National Leader of Governance for nearly six years, working with her original school on its journey to 'Outstanding’ and leading the board to win the NGA Award for ‘Outstanding governance in a single school' in 2017. She is co-founder and Chair of Trustees of Maritime Academy Trust, which has 13 schools in London and the South East. She has an in-depth understanding of the issues and challenges facing schools and trusts around the country and specialises in areas of trust organisational development including communications, governance, leadership, strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, building a single culture, growth management, becoming an employer of choice, mergers and developing school improvement models. She advises chairs and CEOs across the country on these issues and speaks frequently on these topics for organisations such as the Department for Education, Confederation of School Trusts and Academy Ambassadors. Tiffany is also part of Sir David Carter’s team for Ambition Institute, conducting diagnostic reviews of how school trusts are developing across the country. She is Head of Education with PLMR, working across the public affairs, media relations and wider communications disciplines, specialising in strategy, reputation management, change management, PR and stakeholder management. Tiffany can be found on Twitter @gatortiff.

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JOHN MOFFATT

John has been a Chair of Governors since 2006 first in a local Primary school then in several other Primary schools in West Cumbria. He has also been a Trustee of a small rural MAT containing Primary Schools. He was also Vice Chair of a Secondary School. John applied to be a National Leader of Governance in 2015 after being approached by the Local Authority in Cumbria to support a school that had recently received and OFSTED judgement of inadequate.  John helped to establish a new Governing Body for the School and stayed with the School as Chair until it achieved a positive OFSTED judgement. John has established several Governor Cluster in West Cumbria and staringly believes in Governors sharing knowledge and experiences to help them improve their practices.

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ALAN RICHARDS

Alan has been a school governor since 2000 and has governance experience in challenge and support at three Outstanding Teaching Schools, four MATs and a Rotherham based School Improvement Company. He believes passionately in the Systems Leadership, School Improvement and Collaboration Agenda and professionally, as a Leadership and Management Training Consultant, specialises in building successful and sustainable solutions in Educational settings. ​Alan also has a vast network of colleague ExNLGs with experience in many specialist areas and regularly engages with the network to provide the best possible support he can to the schools that he works with. He studied at the University of Wales where he graduated with an MBA, is a Member of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Member of the Society of Education and Training. Alan is willing to travel widely in the UK and is based in the Yorkshire, Humberside and East Midland Region.

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JO PENN

Jo has served as a school governor since 2005 in a variety of settings and roles including a Foundation Secondary School/Converter Academy (Chair), Special School (IEB member), Local Authority Primary Schools (Chair/Vice Chair) and Multi Academy Trust (Trustee). She has extensive experience as a Safeguarding Governor, SEN Governor and panel member for complaints/appeals. She was designated as a National Leader of Governance in 2014 and undertook External Review of Governance training in 2016. Jo has presented at local and national conferences on school governance in addition to contributing to local governor development activities and actively pursuing her own personal development opportunities. Jo is a firm believer in peer to peer support and co-founded @UkGovChat on Twitter to bring governors from around the country together in weekly chat sessions for mutual challenge, support and development. The chat has been recognised by the DfE as a source of support and is referenced in the Governance Handbook. Many years ago, as a newly and unexpectedly appointed chair Jo was grateful for the support of a network of governor colleagues whose advice, listening ears and broad shoulders helped carry her through a challenging period. She has always sought to offer the same through both formal and informal channels. She can also be found @JaPenn56 and Growing Governance Jo combines her governance activities with osteopathic practice and until recently her position as a Senior Clinical Educator and examiner.

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SEAN WESTAWAY

Sean has been a School Governor since 2004 and a Chair of Governors since 2006, first in a VC CE Primary School but is now the current Chair of the Infinity Academies Trust, a 7 school Majority Church of England Primary MAT based in Lincolnshire. Designated as a National Leader of Governance between 2015 and 2021, Sean was trained to carry out External Reviews of Governance (ERG). He received extremely positive feedback from the LA (Lincolnshire) and his support work was highlighted in Ofsted reports and featured in articles produced by KYRA Teaching School and Forum Strategy both focussing on rapid school improvement and his role in achieving this. Sean has completed numerous governor Training courses including NLG Masterclasses and has worked with all of what were the Lincolnshire Teaching Schools to improve governance for all partner Schools and Trusts. Sean has Chaired Independent Complaints Panels and has worked with MAT boards and Maintained School boards to improve all apsect of their governance, through Reviews of Governance, mentoring of Chairs or Full Governing Bodies and periods acting as an Associate Governor to model good governance. Sean is very passionate about governance in Lincolnshire, especially Boston and East Lindsey as traditionally these areas have not been well supported.  He also provides free training to new governors and update training to existing governors through governor forums which are run 3 times per year. This enables him to reach the maximum number of governors he can, to provide them with much needed advice, guidance and support. Sean operates predominately in the Primary phase of education and will provide virtual support in any area and is willing to travel for face to face support when time and distance allows.. As well as providing advice and support to Governors, Sean works full time in the aviation Industry leading a team of Senior Safety Consultants and is a qualified and registered ISO standard auditor. Sean can be found on Twitter @sean_westaway

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FEE STAGG

​Fee has been a governor since 2004 and was designated as a National Leader of Governance in 2015. Currently, Fee is the Vice-Chair of Trustees in a 7 school academy trust (primary and secondary) in East Staffordshire as well as being chair at a two-form entry CoE primary in Stoke on Trent. She works for a number of academy trusts as their Governance Professional as well as being an associate consultant for Entrust. ​Fee was a senior facilitator on the DfE funded Governance Leadership Development Programme from 2016 until the demise of the programme in March 2021 and is currently working on delivering a successor programme for the Alliance for Leading Learning. She also works with a number of North Staffordshire Teaching Schools providing both governance and clerk development as well as mentoring and support.  Fee takes an active approach to her own CPD and encourages her governance colleagues to do the same. She is a FRSA), a member of Belmas, The Chartered Governance Institute, and the Trust Governance Insight programme amongst other networks. Fee set up SBW Governance in 2017 when she decided that Success Begins With … was a great question to ask herself and others! As SBW Fee offers a range of bespoke governance development sessions (she is not a fan of the word training) as well as being DfE External Review of Governance trained. She has undertaken training to be a Pupil Premium Reviewer although this has been impacted somewhat by the recent pandemic. She also supporting, at no cost, several clerks and headteachers (minutes matter after all!)  as well as chairs and vice chairs of governors across the country. Fee is the author of regular blog called The Clerks Elbow The Clerk's Elbow – An analogous look at governance behaviours (wordpress.com) which takes a wry look at governance behaviours. Fee is a founder member of the National Association of School and College Clerks (NASCC) an organisation set up to offer an independent voice to clerks across the country. Fee can be found on Twitter at either @sbwgovernance or @dogpaws23.

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JANE OWENS MBE

Jane is a highly experienced governor. She is currently chair of trustees of Peninsula MAT (a Single Academy Trust in Wirral) and was previously Chair of Governors at that Secondary School. She is also chair of trustees at The Oak Trees MAT, a Wirral based Multi Academy Trust comprising of 6 Primary Schools. Jane is also chair of governors at a local Special School, The Observatory School.  She is also a Member of The Weaver Trust, based in Cheshire West and Chester. ​Jane was delighted to be appointed as one of the first cohort of governors appointed National Leaders of Governance in 2012 and she was re-designated in 2014. In this capacity she helped support the National College of Teaching and Leadership to develop the External Reviews of Governance (ERG) process which was in response to the drive towards more effective governance. Jane has also mentored several chairs of governors across the North and Midlands as they complete an accredited training programme and is currently mentoring several chairs of governors across the country on a no cost basis. Lately, Jane has been developing her training packages from formal training sessions for groups of governors through to more informal ‘conversations with’ governors which can help inform their future development needs. She encourages governor colleagues to view ‘training on governance’ as their own continuing professional development and, occasionally, assists the Local Authority with locality governor training. Jane also frequently supports a Northwest Governor Association with training/information sharing on a regular basis. Jane is an affiliate member of the ICSA – The Governance Institute and a member of NASEN which promotes the advancement and development of all individuals with SEN or ALN and has recently joined one of their advisory groups. Jane is a personal member, and a member through her schools, of the National Governance Association. Jane is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a Professional Affiliate of the Chartered College of Teaching. Jane is an avid user of social media, has a closed Facebook group for chairs, headteachers and clerks , unimaginatively called ‘Jane-School Governor Group, which aims to support colleagues and encourage debate and she shares information from conferences she attends via her Twitter accounts

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BRENDAN HOLLYER

Brendan Hollyer has been a school governor since 2003, originally in a large infant school which was barely satisfactory. He became chair later in the same year and was part of the successful team that drove improvement to its’ “good with outstanding” features in a 2009 inspection. He stepped into the role of vice chair in 2013, when the school expanded into an all-through primary in 2013.  ​In 2014, Brendan was designated as a National Leader of Governance and has served on the boards of numerous schools, primary, secondary and special provision, in challenging circumstances. In 2018 he was approached to become chair of an “Inadequate” school, securing a “Good” judgement in the most recent inspection. He continues on the boards of the two schools and has recently become a trustee of a Multi Academy Trust, based in Bromley.  Brendan can be found on Twitter @bhollyer. 

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DR RUBY BHATTI OBE DL

​Ruby has over 20 years of Governance experience and is committed to the role of good Governance in all areas of education. She was designated as a National Leader of Governance in 2016 and was trained to carry out External Reviews of Governance (ERG). Ruby is serving as a Chair on boards of numerous schools, primary and secondary. She is currently Trustee of Dixon Academies Trust comprising of 16 schools serving communities in Bradford, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester. Ruby is also Trustee of Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust a family of 18 schools based in West Yorkshire providing education within the context of Christian belief and practice. ​Ruby has a wide range of experience in the education sector this includes supporting schools in Ofsted Categories, Requires Improvement and Schools with serious weakness. She has supported the Local Authority as a board member appointed by the DFE for several Interim Executive Boards (IEB) to address weaknesses and develop their governance structures. She is a panel member for the Local Authority Education Appeals Committee. Ruby also supports the Local Authority and School Governor Services as a leader of Governance and a member of the Chairs and Governors Development group working to support Governors and Chairs. Ruby is a panel member for system leaders for the Bradford Opportunity Area Funding. She has presented at local conferences on school governance and often asked to chair complaints, exclusion, capability, and appeals panels. She has completed the Chairs of Governors’ Leadership Development Programme and currently completing the Transcend Level 6 Award in Effective School Governance. Ruby is committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion and to helping the most vulnerable in our society. Through her roles in charity and school governance she has experienced the benefits and strengths that effective and strong relationships with all stakeholders can bring to system leadership in education, housing, health, and communities. She is passionate and advocates that every child deserves a good education. Governors play such an important part in partnership working with the teaching professionals and this results in improvements in the quality of education and raises standards for pupils. Ruby is a practicing solicitor and brings over 30 years of experience from the legal sector and over 25 years of non-executive directorships In other sectors. Ruby is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), and an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA). Ruby was Governor of the Year runner-up for the Bradford Schools Award in 2018. She was awarded an OBE in Housing and Young People in 2019, awarded a honorary doctorate from the University of Bradford in 2020 and appointed as a Faculty Community Fellow in the Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences, University of Bradford. Ruby was absolutely delighted to have been  appointed as a Deputy Lieutenant for West Yorkshire in August 2023. Ruby can be found on Twitter @Ruby_Bhatti_OBE Website: Rubybhatti.com

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ANGELA AGER

​Angela has been a chair of governors at a primary school in Manchester since 2011, when she was appointed to a new governing body replacing an IEB. In 2013 the school was judged as outstanding. She is also chair of directors (trustees) for a Catholic Academy Trust in Lancashire, a foundation governor at another primary school in Manchester and has experience of been appointed as an additional foundation governor for grievance and disciplinary panels. ​Angela was designated as an NLG in 2014 and continued this role until July 2021. She has completed the training for external reviews of governance.As an NLG Angela has supported several chairs of governors and governing bodies. She hasexperience of working with governors both at primary and secondary level, focused on improving governance, either via mentoring a chair of governors or through review of the governing body. Angela has delivered training to governors as part the of the Diocese of Salford CPD programme for governors and was a mentor for the NGA ‘Future Chairs’ strand of Inspiring Governance.

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ED WYDENBACH

Ed is Chair of the Minerva Learning Trust, made up of four Sheffield secondary schools, one primary school and a Free School post 16 provision. It is the largest Sheffield based Trust with over five thousand pupils. The Trust Board are committed to inclusion, outstanding CPD for all staff and strong governance. Ed is also Chair of Birley Spa Primary School, which is part of the LEAD MAT based in Nottingham. He is a member of the LEAD Standards committee which evaluates the performance of the twenty five schools. Ed was appointed a National Leader of Governance in April 2013 and was the NLG Advocate for South Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Derby, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire until 2018. Since becoming an NLG Ed has worked with over fifty –five governing bodies in six LAs and carried out over twenty-five External Reviews of Governance. Through this role Ed has offered independent support and guidance to a range of governing bodies and has successfully worked with governing bodies in a range of settings including LAs, MATs, Dioceses and across the full age range. Ed considers being a governor is a great privilege and working with and supporting governors is proving to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of his career. Prior to becoming a governor Ed had a long career in education including three Headships and two Consultant Headteacher roles working in five LAs. He also lectured in change management at Nottingham Trent University.

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TERRY CANE

​NLG designation in 2015, recently resigned as chair of governors of our local catholic primary school after 16 years. The school moved from an Ofsted inadequate grade in 2008 to good with outstanding features in 2013 and again in 2018. Ofsted recognised local governance had made an outstanding contribution this improvement. It’s not a situation I would recommend but it does give me an understanding and empathy when supporting schools in difficult times. In the last 6 years as an NLG I have undertaken deployments with 28 schools, mainly primary in the Northern region around the South Cleveland area, supporting new chairs and chairs in schools with issues, facilitating governor self evaluation and resulting action plans and working with governors leading mock Ofsted interviews. I am ERG trained found this useful in the self evaluation process. I also spent 4 years as a director of a catholic multi academy trust. Currently I am a governor at my local school, and interim chair of an LGB working towards establishing one governing board for four small rural primary schools.

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DENISE KENDALL

Denise has been Governor of an outstanding Catholic High School since 1996 and has been Chair of this Governing Body for 15 years. She is also Chair of Governors of 2 Federated Rural First Schools. In addition, she is a Director of one of the recently formed Catholic Education Trusts in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. She has more than 40 years experience working in primary education. In her role as Chair of Governors of the High School she worked with the Leadership Team in moving the school initially to becoming an Academy and then to form a Multi-Academy Trust where she worked and supported other governing bodies in joining the MAT. This work included supporting schools in Ofsted Categories,  Requires Improvement and Schools with Serious Weakness where she supported the development of an IEB in order to address weaknesses in governance. Denise became a National Leader of Governance in 2013 and has had significant experience in supporting Chairs and Governing Bodies in developing their expertise and particularly in how to both support and challenge Leadership Teams. She has completed the training for External Reviews of Governance. Denise has extensive knowledge and understanding of Faith Schools and has contributed to the Diocesan Training programme for new Governors.

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MARTIN BRADER

Martin has been a governor at both primary and secondary schools in Derbyshire for many years. He is currently chair of governors at a large LA secondary school in Derbyshire and chair of Derbyshire School Governors Association. His career was in the IT sector working for an international IT service provider. Martin recently completed an 18-month deployment as interim chair of governors at a Sheffield secondary school that had been in ‘special measures’. He has wide experience of dealing with grievances, complaints, and disciplinary panels. Martin has a particular interest in analysing school data. Having been through the highs and lows of 5 Ofsted inspections Martin is happy to share his experiences with Governors in similar situations. Martin was designated as an NLG in 2017 and continued this role until July 2021. He has carried out five external reviews of governance. He has delivered training to governors in Derbyshire and was a mentor for the NGA ‘Future Chairs’ programme.

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STEVE HODSMAN

Following a successful career in the police, Steve retired in 2016. Involved in school governance since 2010, he was appointed to the Board of a large MAT in 2014. Becoming Chair of his school trust in 2015, Steve led major changes in trust development, successfully re-structuring both Trustees and Members at the trust. Having undertaken a complete re-focussing of trust governance and leadership in 2016, he continues to deliver long term educational and financial sustainability. As Chair of one of the highest performing multi academy trusts in England, Steve delivers impactive school and MAT leadership across 53 academies. Steve is actively involved in working with Regional Schools Commissioners and Academy Ambassadors to promote trust governance at national and regional levels. Regularly working with Ambition Institute and the Confederation of School Trusts, Steve has a proven record of coaching and support to system leaders at every level, enabling leaders to drive change to create rapid school improvement. A Senior Associate of the Association of Education Advisers and a member of the Large MAT Chairs Group, Steve plays an active role in promoting work on policy, system collaboration, executive pay, financial sustainability and future MAT assessment. Steve is actively engaged as a member of the North Lincs Education Standards Board. He undertakes peer reviews on behalf of the Local Authority aimed at supporting school leaders to improve outcomes for children. As a former NLG Steve undertakes external reviews of School and MAT governance and promotes ethical, effective and accountable governance that helps drive school improvement.

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PAT BARBER

Pat Barber has over 30 years’ experience of school governance and currently holds several governorships. She is chair at St Mathew all-through single Academy; appointed in 2016 by the Diocese and Regional Schools Commissioner following the dismissal of the Board due to serious weaknesses; the school is now Ofsted rated as Good with outstanding elements. Pat has more recently been appointment as Joint Chair at St Catherine’s Bexleyheath following industrial action at the school. She is also the Chair at a VA Primary school, appointed 2019 following the resignation of all staff and the Chair of Governors; Chair of governors at a primary school with a recent new build with major problems; Chair of an IEB at a secondary VA school that is in the process of closure and Chair at an outstanding Catholic secondary school. Pat is an experienced governor trainer and a qualified School Business Manager (retired). Pat currently supports several new Chairs to settle in to, and fulfil their role; she supports numerous Academies as the independent appeal panel member for grievance panels, complaints and exclusions; she is also an experienced Independent Appeal panel member. Pat is accredited to carry out Independent Governance Reviews and has undertaken several both independently and supporting the Diocese and Local Authorities. Pat has over 25 years’ experience of providing clerking services to primary, secondary and special schools, primarily as clerk to governors; she also trains and coaches new clerks. Pat currently supports schools as their Clerk. Pat is an experienced appeal panel clerk for both Admission and Exclusions and has provided support for several London boroughs in this role through recommendations from both the Roman Catholic Diocesan Schools Education Commission and the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education. Pat has also Chaired an Interim Multi-Academy Trust Board during its inaugural period. Pat received the accreditation of National Leader of Governance January 2014.

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ANDREW BETHELL

Andrew taught for fifteen years in the 70s and 80s in Hackney secondary schools where he was head of department, year and eventually sixth form provision. In 1987 he founded an independent television production company, Double Exposure which he led for a further 17 years producing award winning series in the UK and around the world. In early 2003 he was the founding director and was responsible for devising the programming and scheduling strategy for TeachersTV, the government funded digital television channel and website. In 2006 he became Chief Executive and Creative Director and was also responsible for the global development of the Teachers TV model as well as promoting the use of high quality video in the improvement of teaching and learning in schools around the world.  As well as offering high quality teacher professional development, Teachers TV also worked with the NGA to produce over 200 videos supporting governance in schools. Despite its evident benefits to teachers, governors and parents, Teachers TV was shut down by Michael Gove in 2011.  However, such was its international reputation Andrew was immediately appointed CEO of Teaching Channel and led the team that established this ‘Teachers TV-style’ service in the US funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Teaching Channel still continues to offer CPD to one million registered American teachers. In 1993 Andrew became a governor at City and Islington College where he was appointed chair of the Governance Committee and led in setting up the new standards of governance required by incorporation. He resigned from the board in 2006  In 2012 he switched his attention to primary education and became chair of two primary schools: one in Hackney and one in Haringey. In 2015 he became a National Lead Governor (and trained to deliver External Reviews of Governance) he worked exclusively within Haringey where he mentored new and struggling chairs, was asked to take on a failing school board and conducted a number of informal reviews of governance.  In the absence of any new NLG appointments, in 2017 he worked with the Haringey Education Partnership to recruit three highly experienced local chairs as 'Local Leaders of Governance'.   This has proved a successful alternative to NLG deployment.  The four chairs meet every two weeks with LA leaders and can quiz department heads and put governors' concerns to them directly. Each LLG also  convenes a support group for chairs . These groups meet regularly and have been particularly useful in sharing experience during Covid maelstrom.

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PAM GARRINGTON

Pam has a background in Secondary education. She has an MA in Educational Leadership and Innovation and was a member of the Senior Leadership team before moving to a Local Authority School Improvement Service. She retired in 2012 and wanted to devote more time to pursuing her interest in governance. She has been a governor since 1995 and has chaired several governing boards as well as supporting very many governing boards in Birmingham and beyond. She was delighted to become a National Leader of Governance in March 2012, in the very first cohort. She has undertaken external reviews of governance in primary, secondary and special school settings and has delivered governor training. Supporting the development of an effective team of governors is her passion and she particularly enjoys coaching and mentoring individual governors. She also supports the Local Authority in governor recruitment and has frequently chaired and supported disciplinary and complaints panels. She currently chairs the governing board of an outstanding Primary School in Birmingham. She is also an Academy Ambassador, currently taking on chairing the board of Trustees in a trust that has received its notice of termination and is liaising closely with the RSC and ESFA to facilitate the transfer of these schools to new trusts and a more positive future for the children and staff.

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HARRY JAMES

Harry was selected to be a National Leader of Governance in the first cohort in 2006 and a National Leader of Governance Advocate in 2017. He has served on boards of primary and secondary schools, 6th form colleges and special schools and has chaired boards of primary schools and special schools, as well as chairing an IEB.Harry is currently chair of the board of trustees of a multi academy trust of special schools and is also a governor at iCollege, an alternative Provision in West Berkshire. Harry has been instrumental in developing a multi academy trust and the opening of a free school. ​He has been involved in governance for over 20 years. Harry has conducted numerous reviews of governance across all phases and is an experienced assessor for Governor Mark. He has been an external advisor for the recruitment of Headteachers as well as conducting, and supporting, many Headteacher appraisals.  As an experienced coach and mentor, Harry has supported many chairs of governors and MATs, has been a coach and mentor for the Teach First governor improvement programme and acted as advisor and facilitator for the strategic development of governing boards, including running strategy planning days. Harry has chaired many complaints, grievances and capability panels. He has led, and advised on, schools converting to academies. He  was a contributor to the DfE sponsored `Guide to SEND governance’.  As a former Head of Management Training and Director of Communications for The Post Office, Harry has extensive knowledge of converting ambitious strategic goals into pragmatic action and is passionate about clear and concise communication that results in understanding, acceptance, action and impact. Harry is committed to inclusion and to helping the most vulnerable in our society as is evidenced through his work with SEND pupils. He is also a trustee of Education Support Partnership (previously The Teachers Benevolent Fund) that supports all teaching staff in the UK through a 24/7 365 day a year helpline, grants, as well as providing a variety of well-being training and support packages. 

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DENIS BARRY

Denis was appointed Chair of Governors at Kettlethorpe High School in 2008 and then became Chair of the school in 2010 until the present time. He was appointed as a member of Wakefield School Forum in 2012 and elected Chair in 2014 up to the present time. ​On the recommendation of Wakefield Local Authority, Denis was invited to become a National Leader of Governance. Since becoming an NLG in 2016 Denis has been commissioned to work with three local Primary Schools to rebuild their Governing Bodies and act as interim Chair. One of the Schools was in Special Measures and within eighteen months the school was OfSTED rated ‘Good’. He continues as Chair of that school. He has gained expertise in Chairing and rebuilding Governance in schools that have been designated Inadequate or Requires Improvement. Denis was appointed Chair of Governors at Kettlethorpe High School in 2008 and then became Chair of the school in 2010 until the present time. He was appointed as a member of Wakefield School Forum in 2012 and elected Chair in 2014 up to the present time. On the recommendation of Wakefield Local Authority, Denis was invited to become a National Leader of Governance. Since becoming an NLG in 2016 Denis has been commissioned to work with three local Primary Schools to rebuild their Governing Bodies and act as interim Chair. One of the Schools was in Special Measures and within eighteen months the school was OfSTED rated ‘Good’. He continues as Chair of that school. He has gained expertise in Chairing and rebuilding Governance in schools that have been designated Inadequate or Requires Improvement.

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KEITH MAY

​Keith was a Governor at a Kent school for 30 years prior to retiring in 2017 due to relocating and up to August 2021 Keith was an NLG covering the South-East including Kent. During that time, he served as Chair of Governors for two terms, the last from 2012 to 2017.  In addition, Keith has chaired the following sub-committees:  Teaching & Learning, Pastoral, Equality & Diversity, Pupil Exclusions, Staff Performance & Discipline.  He was link governor for Safeguarding, SEN, PP and English.  Keith has been a member of two IEBs and currently he is a Governor and co-chair of a school in East Sussex.  His links include Safeguarding SEND, H&S, Disadvantaged Pupils.  His training list is comprehensive and up to date.  Keith has chaired and sat on numerous external complaints panels and Head Teacher appointment panels.   He is trained in conflict resolution.  In addition, Keith is a part time educational governance consultant.

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NIGEL REES

Nigel has been involved in delivering education and training since being a teenager, first entering Governance in Education in 1984 as a Governor in Further Education.  Since then he has been a Governor at primary and secondary level, serving as a Chair of Governors at secondary level between 1987 and 1990, and continuously since 1995. Nigel was designated as a National Leader of Governance in February 2016, and has subsequently supported 14 schools outside SAST in addition to responsibilities as Chair of SAST. ​Nigel retired from HSBC in 2014, after forty years service, thirty of which were in Relationship Management.  He also has 30 years’ experience in teaching, authoring, and examining Banking Law, Lending and Relationship Management for the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) and its predecessors.   Through his roles in charity and school governance, and as a Senior Relationship Manager in HSBC managing high risk and problem lending relationships across Southern England and South Wales Nigel has seen first-hand the benefits and success that strong and effective relationship management and leadership can bring to system leadership in education, charities and commercial businesses. Between June 2017 and October 2020 Nigel supported an Independent Third Party in their assessment of a large UK bank's remediation programme. The role focused on providing Business Banking and restructuring expertise to help inform customer outcomes. Nigel also serves as a Trustee for a number of Charities, including Salisbury Diocese Board of Education (SDBE) where he is Vice Chair of the Board, and Chair of Resources Committee.  

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PETER CANNINGS 

Peter was first appointed by his Local Authority as a school governor in April 1995 at St Mary’s C of E Primary School in York. He had previously had eight years of experience as a governor at York College of Further and Higher Education. In April 1998 he was appointed by the same Local Authority as a governor at All Saints Secondary School and Sixth Form which is also in the City of York.  Peter has served a total of 37+ academic years at these two schools as the Chair of Governors. During his tenure as Chair of Governors, both schools achieved Ofsted “Outstanding” status, St Mary’s in July 2011 and All Saints in April 2016. Peter also became the first Chair of the Board of Trustees of the newly established 18-school “St Margret Clitherow Catholic Academy Trust” having been heavily involved in its formation over three years.  Peter was appointed as a National Leader of Governance in January 2014 and served in this role until August 2021 when the role was reformed. He completed the training required to undertake “external reviews of governance” and subsequently carried out this role on a number of occasions.  Peter has supported newly appointed Chairs and governors, also the governing bodies of schools which have received an adverse governance report outcome from Ofsted. Including schools from both the Primary and Secondary sectors.  Peter has significant educational governance experience in both Catholic and Church of England Schools as well as Maintained Community Schools in both the Primary and Secondary sectors.   Peter is an Engineer by profession and an Academic by choice who, after eleven years of working in industry as a professional engineer, converted to the teaching of engineering in Further and Higher Education Institutions. Peter also has a Degree in Education and Qualified Teacher Status.  Peter has for many years been using his governance experience and academic skills to provide governor training materials and sessions for his own governing boards and also for the governing bodies he has supported as a National Leader of Governance.  

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JAN LINSLEY

After a career in teaching English in secondary schools, including 10 years as part of a school leadership team, Jan became a governor to make a contribution in her local community.  As she commented, “I wanted to make sure that all children get the best education they can, and that they enjoy their time in school!”  She is the Chair of Governors for two primary schools and a secondary school in North Yorkshire. Between 2004 and 2014, Jan was a Regional Adviser for the Department for Education and its partner agencies. From 2014, Jan has worked as an independent education consultant with National Teaching Schools to support schools in difficulties; providing high quality professional development and training the next generation of teachers.  Additionally, Jan works with Initial Teacher Training providers as an External and Internal Moderator, Link Tutor and examiner.  She also manages a couple of Erasmus+ projects every year for schools across Yorkshire and the North East. Jan was an NLG between 2017 and 2021 and her most common deployments have been to coach new Chairs of Governors to understand their role; advise on governance in Multi-Academy Trusts; and chair Interim Executive Boards until struggling schools can convert to academies.  Jan has also acted as an independent governor helping schools deal with complaints; has dealt with disciplinary matters; commissioned a financial investigation; and managed headteacher absences.  Jan is fully trained to deliver External Reviews of Governance.

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JON HARSINE

After over 30 years working in commercial businesses, leading change and transformation programmes, Jon has worked full time, in both a professional and voluntary capacity, in the education sector since 2011. As a governor, Jon has 20 years experience in a range of schools in varying settings across West Yorkshire and Lancashire, and currently leads or serves on several governing/trust boards. ​His primary focus is upon supporting the rapid improvement of schools which have been categorised by Ofsted as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’, or which have an identified need to significantly improve standards of governance. He does this through either through his IEB/Board/Trustee roles, or by carrying out governance reviews and providing support. In his work, Jon is able to make use of the experience he has gained in board level positions, which have included responsibility for areas such as strategy, human resources, finance, IT, project management and business operations. He also draws upon extensive experience in education, including completion of the Department of Education’s ‘NPQH’ programme. Jon also holds a Masters Degree in Education and held an National Leader of Governance  designation between 2016 and 2021. Recognising that excellent teaching often changes lives, Jon is passionate about improving the quality of education and about the important role governors can, and must, play in driving up standards.

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CAROLE COOK

Carole has been a school governor for over 25 years and has been involved in all phases of education from Nursery, through to Primary, Secondary and Further Education.  She currently chairs a Federation of a large Primary and Nursery school and has previously Chaired a Multi Academy Trust. Carole was designated as an NLG in 2014 and has worked with a wide range of schools and individuals in that capacity.   She has trained to carry out External Reviews of Governance and has extensive experience of Head Teacher and Senior Leadership appointments, Performance Management and Ofsted, both as a Governor and when leading inspections in a professional capacity.  In addition, she has Chaired Interim Executive Boards for maintained and academy schools. She has coached and mentored Chairs and supported Boards when looking at academisation options and then seeing them through the process.  Carole works in training and skills, taking people through qualifications up to degree and Masters level in Management, Business Improvement and Coaching and Mentoring.  She is the director of a training company and consultancy working with a range of clients from small local enterprises through to multinational organisations.  Carole is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. She is committed to the role of good Governance in all areas of education.

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DAVID MILHAM

David has been a school governor for over 30 years, starting as a parent governor at his children’s primary school. He is passionate that every child deserves an excellent education to enable them to become independent learners and thrive in education and life beyond. David was Chair of Governors when the board researched Academy conversion and was one of the early converter Single Academy Trusts. A year later the school was graded outstanding by Ofsted. In 2013 the LA Governor Services Officer persuaded him to become an NLG. ​He has particularly enjoyed mentoring Chairs to improve the effectiveness of their Governing body. David has chaired an IEB, taking the school out of Special Measures – it is now Good. He has also helped governing bodies review options for Academy conversion and assisted with the process. He has also acted as the investigating governor in Headteacher and SLT disciplinary hearings and has experience of sitting on and chairing independent appeal panels. David believes a guided self-review of Governance is a far more effective process than an ERG – where he has carried out an ERG it was on the understanding he would assist the Governing body implement the recommendations. His experience is mainly with Primary – LA, CoE and Methodist, but has some experience with Special Schools. Secondary experience is limited to independent parental appeal panels.

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CRAIG SMITH

Craig has been a school governor since 2003 and was an NLG between 2013 and 2021. During his time as a governor Craig has been a chair across all age ranges including nursery, Primary, Lower, Middle and Secondary. Craig also chaired a two times Outstanding PRU for over 10 years and is currently a Chair of a three times outstanding school in Central Bedfordshire. Craig has also chaired an IEB supporting a challenged school to move from RI to Good in 18 months. During his time as an NLG Craig supported numerous schools including a number of ERGs but also engaged in wider activity such as developing new Chairs, helping with Chair/Head issues and advising schools on future developments. Craig has worked in education for over 30 years, starting as a Careers Adviser and after number of roles is currently a COO and Deputy CEO of a 10 school Trust - so is experienced in working with Trustees as well as the governance lead for the Trust. This role includes supporting all aspects of governance including support for Chairs, preparing for Ofsted and overseeing the Trust wide training programme. In 2019 Craig led on a successful Trust wide application for the GovernorMark quality award – becoming the first Trust wide achievers of the award. Immediately prior to his current role Craig worked in a senior position in an LA where, amongst many other roles, he led on governance support to all schools within the authority and developed innovative practice to raise the profile of governance within the authority. Craig is a passionate believer in education and its role as a key engine for social change – with effective governance at the heart of successful schools and school leadership.

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LORRAINE DOYLE

Lorraine has nearly 20 years experience as a governor across primary, secondary and special schools. Currently, she is Chair of Trustees for a stand-alone Academy Trust and Chair of Governors for a Local Authority Maintained Primary school. Both schools are Ofsted rated ‘Good’. Lorraine also provides clerking services to schools and is currently clerk for a primary school and an infant school. ​As an NLG from 2014 to 2021, she has undertaken a variety of deployments. From sitting on an IEB for a special school in Special Measures as well as acting as the executive chair for a primary school also judged to be in Special Measures. Performing external reviews of safeguarding in schools in the wake of serious incidents. Conducting external reviews of governance across secondary and primary schools. Offering coaching and mentoring for new chairs Acting as independent investigator for a variety of staffing/HR complaints Lorraine has a strong track record in working with boards to improve the quality of governance. Both her two 'home' schools have moved from Ofsted ‘Special Measures’ and ‘Satisfactory’ to consistently ‘good’. She has also provided governor training for a local authority and is trained to sit on Local Authority panels for admissions appeals and independent reviews of exclusions. Lorraine has worked as a Corporate Tax Manager for a large UK accountancy firm and for a small owner managed firm of registered auditors and accountants so brings her financial acumen and skills to the role of school governor. She is passionate about education and governance and regularly undertakes continuous professional development and training to keep up to date with the every changing educational landscape.

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Sarah Armitage MBE

Sarah Armitage MCIPD BA (Hons) Social & Educational Psychology Sarah has been a school governor since the late 90’s and a chair for 12 years. She’s currently Chair of Trustees for Embark Federation, a fast-growing trust in Derbyshire with 17 schools (15 Primaries and 2 Secondaries). Sarah was designated as a National Leader of Governance in 2015 and during her time as an NLG she worked with over 20 schools and colleges providing professional facilitation and carrying out external reviews of governance. ​In 2022, she was invited to sit on the Advisory Board for the East Midlands. In her governance capacity and her professional role as a Coach and Facilitator, her mission is to help develop a healthy, thriving, high-performance culture across the education sector. Sarah loves to support schools and trusts to thrive through the development of a clear shared vision, values, a team-driven approach and a strong grounding in innate well-being and human flourishing.

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