Debbie Strowbridge


About me: My background is in fashion, as a designer running a medium sized fashion company for 20 years. Through most of those years I was also a governor and then Chair.

I was accredited as a National Leader of Governance in February 2014, after a substantial amount of years as a governor and at least 10 years as a Chair of Governors. I was encouraged to apply for the accreditation after leading governance through a successful Ofsted Inspection where, in collaboration with the Senior Leadership Team, our Ofsted judgement improved from good to outstanding.

In May 2016 I was asked to Chair a replacement governing body (quasi IEB) convened by the LA, for a school under threat of academisation. An Academy leadership team supported the school at this point and parents were extremely angered by this arrangement (this was quite political, 3,000 signatures presented to the Local Authority by parents). One of the greatest challenges for the governing board was after the Academy Leadership Team left in July. With no leadership in place except for governors, we needed to appoint a new dynamic & effective leadership team by the September; which we did.

Children’s outcomes were significantly improved within a year and a new governing board was put in place. Effective school governance was confirmed by an external review, more recently our Ofsted inspection in March 2018 to everyone’s delight, improved to good.

Recently, I have been appointed to the London Borough of Waltham Forest’s Learning Partnership, which is an autonomous board that sits outside the current education network and has the freedom to address the issues it sees as a priority for the borough.

I have a strong interest in the current, ever changing educational landscape, using that information to plan for the future in the best ways to improve our children’s lifelong chances.

Location: (Borough/City/County) London Borough of Waltham Forest/Woodford Green
Governance experience:


  • Chair of Governors at George Tomlinson Primary School
  • Chair of Governors at the Opossum Federation
  • Requested by Deputy Chief Executive (Waltham Forest) to Chair a replacement governing body (quasi IEB)
  • Requested by LA to complete a Review of Governing Body Services
  • Requested by LA to sit on various panels including ill-health hearings, disciplinaries, and parental complaints.
  • Worked in partnership with LA to develop governance capacity & expertise in identified schools
  • Restructuring School Group including Pay
  • Supporting transition to Federations
  • Safeguarding lead in two schools
  • Headteacher Performance Management
  • Headteacher Appointments
  • SLT Appointments
NLG experience:





  • Where working practices for a chair, Headteacher need developing
  • Coaching and Mentoring CoGs
  • LA in appointing the Director of Learning
  • new CoGs in developing their leadership role, setting strategic vision, ensuring challenge and support to the Headteacher/Executive Head.
  • where attainment is below the current minimum standards set by the government


  • External Reviews of Governance and supporting schools after review to implement recommendations
  • working with CoG and governing boards to become ‘Ofsted-ready’
  • modeling Governance (within GBM)
Testimonials: London Maintained Primary School:

  • ‘I know that the Chair found your set of possible Ofsted interview questions a helpful structure for his preparations.’ LA Director of Education
  • ‘Let me add my thanks for your skillful input and Schools Improvement for making that possible. I really don’t know how things would be going without your help with Ofsted.’
  • ‘I used your questions and spreadsheet as a preparation for Ofsted and circulated to the Governors who were able to attend the Ofsted interview.’ Chair of Governors of Maintained School.
  • As an NLG working with SLT and heavily supporting the Chair and Governors, the school was accredited an Ofsted grade Good from  Requires Improvement in March 18


Areas of expertise:



– Strategic leadership of school organisations


– Governance Compliance

Creating a shared vision, ethos and strategic direction

Understanding the regulatory framework for governance

Strategic planning for schools and boards

Compliance with the Academy Financial Handbook

Strategic financial leadership

Readiness for Ofsted

Strategic HR leadership

Effective Safeguarding

Leading change management

Strategic leadership of Pupil Premium and provision for disadvantaged pupils

Stakeholder engagement & communication

Data management and GDPR

Managing and prioritising risks

Investigations, panels and appeals


 – Strategic leadership of school improvement


– Governance reviews and health checks

Strategic Leadership of school improvement

External Reviews of Governance

Creating accountability structures, SMART targets and KPIs

Skills audits and action planning

Planning and leading strategic monitoring

Facilitated governance self-reviews

Triangulation, benchmarking and holding to account

Performance Management of Chairs

Headteacher performance management

Governor appraisals

Monitoring of staff performance management

Chair performance management

Complaint investigation and management



-Governance team leadership


– Other NLG Deployment Skills

Team leadership

Developing governor training

Recruiting and retaining the governance team

Delivering governor training

Succession planning

Developing governance support materials

Creating a team culture

Expectation setting and conduct

Holding the governance team to account

Creating a governance development plan

8. Training completed

Relationship management


Conflict management


Meeting management



– Governance Structures


Governance team organisation, processes and structures – constitutions, terms of reference, role profiles

NLG induction

Creating a scheme of delegation

Essential deployment skills

Governance in Federations

Power of Coaching

External Review of Governance

Governance leadership programme (DfE)