With the spotlight on governance it’s easy to overlook the clerk, who can be a vital resource, supporting the effective functioning of the governing body. The voluntary nature of governance makes the role all the more important as it provides a vital link to administrative, organisational and advisory support; contributing to the efficiency, effectiveness, productivity and compliance of the governing body.
All academy trusts must appoint a clerk as set out in their Articles of Association and many combine the role of company secretary and clerk as a voluntary position. However the DfE released the Clerking Competency Framework in April 2017, highlighting the role’s importance and setting out expected standards, whilst referring to the role of ‘professional clerking’; indicating an expectation that this should be a salaried position.
Different types and sizes of organisations will have differing clerking needs depending on their scale and complexity, but broadly the purpose of the clerk’s role is to:
- Provide expert advice and guidance to the governing body on governance, constitutional and procedural matters
- Ensure compliance with the appropriate legal and regulatory framework, with an understanding of the consequences of non-compliance
- Provide effective administrative and organisational support to the governing body and its committees
- Manage information effectively in accordance with legal requirements
There are various competencies and expectations of the clerk, including:
- A strong understanding of governance and the impact of effective governance on the quality of education and on outcomes for children
- The ability to deliver proactive advice and guidance
- Effective administrative and organisational skills
- Interpersonal skills to build strong professional working relationships
The clerk should be accountable to the Chair of Governors, who is responsible for managing the relationship and should ensure the clerk is appropriately remunerated, appraised annually and supported with relevant training and professional development.
In light of the guidance, it would be advisable to consider your existing clerking arrangements to understand the potential benefits of recruiting a professional, salaried clerk or identifying the training needs of your existing clerk.