Foundation Trust staff governors are on a development journey, and are still working with their trusts to understand how to make the role an effective mechanism for better governance. The economic and political environment in which trusts operate is changing, and they are aware that they, along with their governors, are likely to face considerable challenges in the coming years. 

The IPA was commissioned by the Foundation Trust Network (FTN) to undertake a piece of research to find out more about the functioning of the staff governor role within foundation trusts. Trusts have the freedom to shape their own governance arrangements; therefore their solutions to challenges can be very different, creating variety, innovation and, ultimately successful practices which may benefit other trusts.

This research aimed to clarify a number of points regarding staff governor’s duties, and examples of innovation and development within the role. The study also revealed a number of obstacles that were preventing staff governors from effectively fulfilling their role. With trusts beginning to develop solutions to these issues, much could be achieved through greater communication between different trusts and their governors.

Therefore, this study makes a number of recommendations to help resolve the common challenges staff governors and their trusts face, as recorded in this study. But they are also made with the longer term view of developing the governance arrangements in place to support trusts’ accountability relationships.

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