Governing bodies urged to sign up to ‘seven principles of public life’


Governing boards should publish and sign-up to a code of conduct committing to the seven principles of public life.

The call comes within a joint statement that has been published to help headteachers and governing boards to work together effectively.

The seven principles, which were established by Lord Nolan in 1995, are: to act selflessly, with integrity, objectively, be accountable, open and honest, and demonstrate leadership skills.

The four-page document sets out the key tenets that a successful governing board must have, including a commitment to asking challenging questions and an understanding of their role and responsibilities.

Likewise, it details how headteachers should approach their liaisons with governors, including a willingness to be challenged and time to devote to developing professional relationships.

The document has been issued jointly by the Association of School and College Leaders, the National Association of Head Teachers, the Local Government Association, and the National Governors’ Association (NGA).

It urges governing boards to carry out a skills audit of their governors and trustees to identify “skills gaps” and to commit to CPD for governors. It signposts NGA resources available to support this.

It also advises on issues such as the recruitment and induction of new governors, delegation, size and composition, and headteacher appraisals.

On the code of conduct, the advice urges governing boards to ensure that one is in place and is signed by all trustees and governors. The code should, it says, promote the seven Nolan principles of public life.

It states: “This code should set out any expectations on confidentiality of sensitive or personal information and include a commitment to the seven principles of public life. Governors and trustees should do their best to avoid conflicts of interest, and must declare any which exist. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, it is not considered good practice to govern on more than two boards.”

Again, the document signposts an NGA model code that schools can adapt.

On engagement with the school, the document offers advice on understanding attainment data, school self-evaluation and Ofsted visits. It also urges regular school visits, but warns that governors must understand that they are not inspectors and that their visits must be linked to school strategic priorities.

It also urges regular surveying of pupils, staff and parents, adding: “The governing board has to understand the needs of these three groups, and must make every effort to obtain their views. This can be done in a number of ways including parent and student councils, written surveys or focus groups.”

The document, What governing boards should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing boards, can be accessed via



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