Governance Leaders - The Northern Cohort

Governance Leaders Programme (under licence to DfE).

Our Governance Leaders programme is for trustees who want to improve standards and outcomes for pupils. It is a programme designed specifically to address the development of trustees of School Trusts. Participants will be supported by a governance mentor – each of our mentors is an expert in trust governance.

The Northern Cohort of The Governance Leaders programme begins in May 2020. The programme builds strong governing boards in schools and School Trusts, enabling them to work effectively with school leaders to improve standards and outcomes for pupils.

The programme develops the capacity and capability of governance leaders and their boards, and there is therefore a careful balance of personal and board development.

Our ‘joined-up leadership’ philosophy means that we include the wider board and executive leaders at key moments during the programme, and sustain this after the end of the programme through access to a powerful network.

Who is it for?

We believe the proposition of governing a School Trust is fundamentally different from that of a maintained school. Our programme is designed primarily for trustees. We will accept applications from all of the following:

  • Trustees of School Trusts
  • Chairs of academy committees or equivalent (considered on a case by case basis – we will consider the level of delegation to the academy committee and the number of chairs who would be in attendance across the trust).

Programme Detail

Through our expertise in education leadership and governance, we have identified the key knowledge, skills and competencies needed trustees, and have designed the programme content around these.

The eight core topics are delivered through an inspiring and developmental two-day residential, and five self-directed online learning modules.

The core topics are:

  • Setting direction, managing change and working collaboratively
  • Ethical leadership, culture and values
    Managing compliance, risk and reputation
  • Ensuring data-driven accountability and educational improvement
  • Financial performance and accountability
  • Getting structures and processes right
    Building an effective team
  • Board evaluation and effectiveness

Alongside the core curriculum, participants will also be invited to attend two optional masterclasses on a range of topics.

Personalised action plan

In addition to the core topics above, participants will undertake a board assessment. The head/CEO and at least one other board member will also be asked to undertake the board assessment to triangulate results. Based on feedback, participants will then develop an action plan for improving the effectiveness of their board. Participants will be supported by an experienced governance mentor who will continue to review the progress of their action plan across the 12 months.

Time commitment

The programme includes a two-day residential training event; five online modules for the participants to complete in their own time; completion of a board assessment; two optional masterclasses; and an optional celebration event at the end of the programme.


Focus on ethical leadership

We have a commitment to ensuring that at the heart of strong school leadership is the drive to ensure better outcomes for the students we serve.

Flexible learning approach

We understand that although committed to having impact in role it is unlikely that participants’ governance duties are their only professional commitment. We have therefore designed the programme so that five of the eight core modules will be delivered via an online training platform, allowing participants flexibility in how they tailor the programme.

Focus on joined up-leadership

The programme focuses on ensuring that the goals of the organisation are realised by boards and executive leaders working together.

Access to our networks

Participants gain access to the network via our online learning space, allowing them to discuss best practice and share resources with other chairs of governors.

Bespoke programme

By starting with an assessment and creating a tailored action plan we ensure that participants’ needs are being met by the programme curriculum. The bespoke support we offer in addition to the core modules and masterclasses is designed to ensure that they are able to effectively deliver their action plan.

Personal development

Participants will develop many transferable skills, including building effective teams, data management and strategic planning.


This programme, worth £1,700 is free for:

  • Governance Leaders of school trusts or federations governing two or more schools.
  • ‘Empty’ School Trusts waiting to take on schools.
  • Single schools in an Opportunity Area and rated ‘requires improvement’.

You will also receive a voucher to purchase an additional masterclass place for yourself or another governance or executive leader in your trust.

If you do not meet the criteria above, you are eligible for £500 towards the cost of
the programme. Your school or school trusts will contribute £1,200.

Only one fully funded place is available for each school trust or eligible school every 12 months.

Please see how some of our participants have shared their thoughts and how they have benefited from taking part in the programme.

Programme Testimonials here

Next Steps

Applications are now open for our Northern cohort October 2020 (residential – 2nd & 3rd October 2020, Venue: Hilton Leeds City, Neville Street, Leeds, LS1 4BX ).
Please register your interest in the programme, and a member of the CST team will be in touch with more information and the next steps.