Regular news and blogs about interesting aspects of governance - well, we think so!

While supporting schools, we gather a lot of great information and insights, which we want to share more widely.
These are issued in our regular newsletters, which contain other helpful information. Make sure you don't miss out - sign up to receive them. Use the form on the contact us page to register your details.

Shaping Governance turns 7!

Celebrating 7 Years of Shaping Governance: A Journey of Impact and Growth On the 8th of April, Shaping Governance turns 7! It’s an occasion that allows us to reflect on our journey, the milestones we’ve achieved, and the impact we’ve made in the world of governance. Seven years ago, Su Turner, our Chief Executive, embarked […]

Guest Blog: Cllr Victoria Cusworth – insight from her role as Cabinet Member for Children and a former Scrutiny Chair

Reflecting on 20 years of the Children Act 2004: Cllr Victoria Cusworth Cabinet Member for Children and Young People in Rotherham and former Scrutiny Chair.  The Children Act 2004 is a pivotal piece of legislation that shaped our work programme when I was Chair of Children’s Scrutiny and continues to do so as Cabinet Member […]

Corporate Parents: the role of a school governor in improving outcomes for children in care

Today, (17th February 2024) is Care Day, the world’s biggest celebration of children and young people with care experience.  At Shaping Governance we help Corporate Parents to understand their important role,  and understand how they can be better parents for the children in their care. But what is a corporate parent? When a child goes […]

Local Leadership and Accountability for Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Services

Children's mental health has become an even more pressing concern in the wake of COVID and the devastating news stories that we continue to hear about every day. As we continue to navigate these challenging times, strong local leadership needs to continue to play a central role in ensuring that children and young people receive […]

Reflections of 2023

"Shaping Governance" is more than a company name; it captures the very essence of our mission. Since 2017, Shaping Governance has improved the landscape of governance and the support provided to the public sector governors in our schools, councils and charities.   During the last 12 months, Shaping Governance has again supported 100s of schools and […]

The Power of Reflection

'The more reflective you are, the more effective you are'! This quote from Hall and Simeral - sums up my thoughts and should be a regular activity for all governing boards.  And not just because the Department for Education tells us to - but because there is a moral obligation to do so. As we […]

Five things to ponder when thinking about joining or creating a Multi-Academy Trust

The government has always had an ambition for the growth of the multi-academy sector. Back in 2010, when the approach was legislated through the Academies Act, I worked for a national good governance charity and remember many meetings with Department for Education colleagues and other system leaders about the need to ensure that getting governance […]

SEND Review

Earlier this year, the government published details of its long-awaited SEND Review.   The green paper, delayed because of Covid-19, sets out the Government’s vision for a single, national system for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and alternative provision (AP). The aim is to introduce new standards in the quality of support given to children […]


Have you ever been to a Governing Board meeting and thought you were on a different planet?  I work supporting governance improvement across many sectors and know how the constant use of acronyms can lead to vagueness, confusion, and disengaged governors. Those school governors will know that you can't get through a meeting without someone […]

Transparency in Governance

Buzzword or Byword? How transparent is your governance? Transparency, in a governance context, means honesty and openness, with transparency and accountability generally considered as the two main pillars of good governance. So given the importance of transparency, I needed it to feature in my Advent Calendar looking at tips for good governance. Transparency is a principle […]

Financial Oversight

School Governors have three core roles.  We have already explored earlier this month the first two, and now is the turn of Financial Probity. As Governors, we have responsibility for important financial decisions in our school, and we are ultimately answerable to parents and the wider community for how we use our resources. This is […]

Governing in Special Schools

In addition to responsibilities and accountabilities for educating children in Special Schools, the Governors of Residential Special Schools, have an additional set of social care responsibilities for the accommodation that they provide. The National Minimum Standards for Residential Special Schools - originally published under the Children Act 1989 as amended by the Care Standards Act […]

Creating Whole Trust DNA

Two of the fundamental ingredients in the success of any governance structure are relationships and communication.  When they are lacking, boards lack ambition, drive, and cohesiveness. I have been fortunate to work with many Trusts and even the Department for Education to create governance structures from scratch or refine existing ones and know that my […]

Distributed Governance – creating your own Governance Jigsaw©

Could distributing your governance load be the answer to improving board effectiveness and outcomes for pupils? Absolutely! Nationally, there are over 250,000 Governors in state-funded schools whose volunteering is potentially worth millions, if not billions, to the school community. Whilst many governors give a lot of their time, which according to the National Governance Association* […]

Can SOAR’ing Improve Governance?

This week in our Shaping Governance Appreciative Saturday Series, I'm going to focus on a tool that I use all of the time when I need to do a bit of thinking or solution development. But first, let's think about being appreciative. As an improvement approach, 'appreciative' planning stems from the early work of David […]

Holding Executive Leaders to Account

The second of the three core roles of a School Governor, and it's a biggie! It's one of the areas that I cover for Governors when I run Shaping Governance sessions with them. It's usually an area that Governors are either good or relatively poor at and is often a misunderstood area.  Governors may not […]

Board Behaviours!

Behaviour can make or break a governing board. The stakeholder model of governance that we use in many schools has its advantages, bringing together all stakeholders with interest in the school. Still, as we know, it can also have pitfalls. As a fan of appreciative approaches, I'm going to turn the question around. Instead of […]

Strategic Governance a key cog

I have worked with many wonderful people during my career, now in my current work and previously with National/Local Governments, on the theme of Governance and scrutiny. One of my favourite colleagues to work with is Sheila Marsh.  Sheila and I worked together on many exciting projects, tackling health inequalities, children's mental health, and one […]

Governor Wellbeing

There is much talk in governing board meetings about the workload and well-being of staff, and it's one of the areas we support governors to understand in Shaping Governance. Boards that we work with are very aware of the importance of the well-being of their staff and how they can help them achieve work-life balance. […]

Being Appreciative – conversations

Day 4 of my Celebration of Good Governance, and it's a Saturday.  So, I have decided to dedicate the weekends to something different. Saturday's I've dedicated to all things Appreciative. About 20 years ago, I was introduced to the concept of Appreciative Inquiry as a different approach to problem-solving. At the time, I was working […]