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Research report

A review of the literature on the role of the board chair: What are the messages for chairs of school governing bodies?

Chris James, Steve Brammer, Michael Connolly, Jane James and Dr Jeff Jones

This report reviews the literature on board chairs to inform all those involved in school governing in England about the responsibility, the role and the knowledge, the capabilities and characteristics required of the chair of the school governing body.

‘Boards’ are important in the governance of organisations and institutions in a range of settings. In the corporate sector, for example, the 2010 UK Corporate Governance Code of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC, 2010) makes clear that ‘Boards of directors are responsible for the governance of their companies'. Boards have a similar responsibility in the public service, voluntary and not-for-profit sectors. Importantly, they have a very significant role in schools where the governing body has a ‘general responsibility for the conduct of the school’.

Boards in all settings typically have a chair, and recognition of the importance of that position has increased substantially in recent times. A review of the literature on the board chair is thus timely and, importantly, may provide valuable insights into the position in school settings.

The intention of this report is to review the literature on board chairs to inform all those involved in school governing in England about the responsibility, the role and the knowledge, capabilities and characteristics required of the chair of the school governing body (ChGB).