A New Governance Landscape

We are all familiar of course with the 6 key features of effective governance practice which are highlighted in the Governance Handbook; and of course we are all governing within the boundaries of the Nolan Principles. But how familiar are we with the 7Cs? If asked could you name them or even know where they are set out?

The Governance Competency Framework highlights some of the principles and personal attributes by and through which we should all be governing. These are collectively known as the 7Cs and are Committed, Confident, Curious, Challenging, Collaborative, Critical and Creative.

However, I wonder if the time is right for us as a group – governors, trustees and governance professionals – to pose the question about whether these 7Cs are still apposite or whether we should take the opportunity to reframe them to reflect the work we so as governors, trustees and Governance Professionals.

I offer the following new 7Cs as suggestions – you may disagree or you may have your own ideas. Let’s start the conversation though and begin to build a new landscape for governance which shifts the dialogue from the focus on compliance (although we must remain legal and of course meet, and if possible exceed, the requirements we are mandated and required to meet) towards a much more values driven approach. For each of my suggestions what questions do you think you could ask as a governor or trustee?


Honouring and understanding the lived experiences of pupils and young people; taking time to understand our communities; actively considering diversity, actively considering wellbeing, workload and supporting or challenging when it suitable and necessary; being kind to each other; understanding reasons and not making excuses; remembering people first – role second.


Understanding as governors and trustees the role and purpose of the curriculum; asking how it reflects and supports the schools values and where these are values are evidenced; developing a professional approach to our governance curriculum and learning by being curious about what we need and must know in order to be effective as board; moving away from focusing on data and into the contextual; having a clear purpose for our own learning. Catching up looks different everywhere.


Accepting that decision making is not easy and actively considering how we can make better decisions; challenging ourselves to understand more the complexity that our schools and academies have to operate within; challenging ourselves to have professional dialogue amongst ourselves; not accepting the easy answers; not shying away from asking difficult questions of each other as well as school leaders and advisers; listening actively and thinking deeply.


Being inquisitive about the culture in our schools for staff and pupils; ensuring that our values and culture align; ensuring that pupils and young people develop a strong sense of themselves and the opportunities open to them; being authentic; not limiting opportunity for others, including other governors, but continually looking through the lens of our own bias (e.g. succession planning); looking at what happens in the gaps in between.


Developing a collective sense for doing things better; managing change consistently; reviewing priorities properly; refocusing on the activities that make a real difference; being brave enough to stop doing the things that make no difference (and we acknowledge that some of the things we do as governors really do not make a difference and acknowledging – to paraphrase Henry Ford – that if we if we always do what you’ve always done, we’ll always get what we’ve always got); focusing our governing board agendas on the real purpose of governance; always and consistently asking the question ‘why?’


Making connections with others within and outside the governing board is crucial; being active about curating the connections we make; sharing knowledge; making links between governance activity and the school improvement or development plan, connecting with other governors, trustees and clerks; learning together; considering the correlation between the questions and answers; not passively letting one person govern alone.


Taking time to learn from the best; seeking out pupil and student voice – they have a right to be heard; avoiding superficial responses to success; being energetic in our approaches; celebrating diversity; finding uniqueness; supporting the work of the clerk and governance professional; thanking with meaning; finding the intrinsic joy in the work we do.

If you want to share this blog please do – but please acknowledge the source! Thank you.

(c) SBWGovernance 2020

2 thoughts on “A New Governance Landscape

  1. Excellent,

    I am sharing this with our Governing Board, I will be acknowledging it source.

    Thank you Fi

    Pam Miles


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