Preparing Your Board for the Future – Succession Planning Guidance

Have you considered who will be your next chair of governors?  Or have you planned for who will take over as chair of the committees of the governing board?

If we are honest, considering the governing boards future development needs and focusing on succession planning can sometimes slip to the bottom of the to do list for many clerks and chairs.  Governing boards can be so busy doing the day job of effective governance that there just does not seem to be the time to adequately plan for the future.

Working in partnership, National Governance Association (NGA) and Inspiring Governance have produced a new practical guide for governing boards: Preparing Your Board for the Future.  Available as a download from both the NGA  Succession Guidance , the Inspiring Governance website and as a hard copy from NGA events. This concise guide gives pragmatic steps on how to ensure you have the right people around the table and that they are ready to take over chairing roles when required.

Launched on Saturday 2nd March at NGA’s North West Regional Conference in Manchester, hard copies of the guide flew off the Inspiring Governance stand, as delegates were obviously keen to find out more.

The guide includes:

Section One: Getting The Basics in Place

Section one covers an introduction to the concept of succession planning and why it is important for governing boards. It also includes the role of the chair and why it is important for boards to be proactive.

Section Two: Establishing a culture of succession

This section explains how open and ongoing discussion can help to create a culture where governors and trustees feel comfortable to talk about their intentions and who is best placed to take over specific chairing roles.

Section Three: Using the succession cycle

Using the stages of the cycle to identify future opportunities and talent spot amongst existing, new or even prospective governors can be an effective way of ensuring the board has the right people with the right skills at the right time. The cycle also explains the stages of gaining an individual’s commitment, identifying development needs and accessing essential learning and development.

Section Four: Developing governors and trustees

This section highlights the need to start with completing a skills audit  NGA Skills-Audits and then identifying an individual governor’s learning needs.  Offering a variety of opportunities to learn and gain experience can lead naturally to individuals expressing an interest in taking on a chairing role.

Section Five: Ensuring Leadership of the board

The cycle must be ongoing and modelling distributed leadership across the board will further support the learning & development of governors and trustees.  Ensuring that all chairs work as a team to lead the board will strengthen challenge and support and help governors focus on school improvement.

The guide also contains information on how boards can use Inspiring Governance and the Future Chairs service to ensure that they are able to recruit skilled volunteers who are willing and able to take on a chairing role in the future.

If you are interested in finding out more about Future Chairs, please contact Simon Richards, Chairs Development Manager at

To further support governing boards with the vital task of succession planning, NGA is delivering  succession planning workshops at its Regional Conferences.  Designed to complement the Preparing Your Board for the Future guidance, the workshop will give delegates the opportunity to discuss succession planning and learn more about developing the board.

The first workshop, delivered in Brighton on Saturday 9th March, was well received by governors, with one delegate commenting: “Getting to the point when succession planning becomes a seamless process, almost a non-event, feels like the ultimate goal for governing boards”.

NGA will also be delivering the workshop in Birmingham at the West Midlands Regional Conference on Saturday 23rd March and finally at the University of Manchester’s Governors Conference on Thursday 4th April.

Judith Hicks – Head of Inspiring Governance said: “Recruiting and developing talent on governing boards is vital to ensuring that effective governance continues to be delivered in our schools. We are encouraging all governing boards to use the guide to further develop their succession planning.”

If you are organising a governor event and would value a free workshop on succession planning presented to your attendees, please contact Judith Hicks – Head of Inspiring Governance at to find out more

For further information, please contact:

Judith Hicks – Head of Inspiring Governance:  0121 237 3780

Simon Richards – Chairs’ Development Manager: 0121 237 3780