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Dear Stephen (New Clerk - Plenty of Advice Needed!)

Discussion in 'Governors' started by newclerk, Aug 6, 2013.

  1. Dear Stephen

    I have been newly appointed as a Clerk to School Governors by the Local Education Authority. I'm going to be honest and say that I've never done this sort of role, but I was successful due to showing my willingness in aiming to improve education. I do have a lot of questions on my mind, but I will only ask them once the first question has been answered.

    The problem I have is that the job specification never mentioned how many hours the role is for, but now I've realised that the role is only under 7-8 hours per 6 weeks! This is very low, considering i'm looking for a proper job which is at least 16 hours per week. Now having said that, the LEA interviewer did say that so long as I can handle the work, I can choose more than one school and increase my number of hours. I hope I am not being rude, but am I being told porkies? Can I get more hours?

  2. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    For clerks who are not employed directly at the school it is unusual for a clerk simply to have one School to Clerk for. Anywhere from 2-10 schools would be more normal. Schools have to have a minimum of three full GB meetings plus committee meetings per academic year. In practice most have more.

    A meeting attendance can last from 1-3 hours on average and the time that would normally be expected for a clerk to produce minutes of those meetings can be double the length of the meeting.

    I do not detect that you have any qualification for being clerk and are being thrown in at the deep end. I hope that your LA, will or have provided sufficient training? Being a clerk is not lucrative and is hard work.

    Two great websites to get all the assistance you need are:-



    You can also look on the Dfe website here for some more information.

  3. Thank you montiagh for your detailed reply. Your right, I don't have any experience as a clerk, but I do have a lot of admin and IT experience, so document/minute typing would not be an issue. Also as a parent, I used to goto governor meetings, although it was for a nursery school and only a short while. Having said that, I understand that it's not easy and will take sometime to get to grips with it. Can it get boring?

    Also I feel the need to mention this...I have a hearing disability and some hand pain (find typing easier than handwriting), so I want to know how the employer can help me with these issues?
  4. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    It's possible that you may be allowed to use a tablet or lap top at a meeting to type directly into or some GB's allow taping of meetings so that you can do the minutes afterwards.

    Meetings can be very boring for long periods as clerks rarely get involved except to listen to the discourse and take notes.

    Yes you are right it will not be easy although you have a number of weeks to get to a basic level. On UKGovernors there are a lot of clerks to assist (and clerks corner) just fire away with questions they love to assist.

    The main areas that Clerks need to become proficient in are:-

    1. Working within a legal framework

    2. Supporting effective governance

    3. Performing administrative tasks

    4. Communication

    5. Managing information

    6. Supporting the team

    7. Achieving results

    I am not a clerk, but I do realise that good clerks are a massive asset to a governing body and can be a jewel in the crown.
  5. Funny as I was thinking of exactly the same things...i.e. a laptop for typing at the meetings and a digital notetaker/dictaphone for recording the meeting. But financially who is responsible for providing these items?

    Even though you said that clerks rarely get involved, but if I thought that I could give some positive feedback, would I be allowed to or would that be frowned upon?

    As said before, I don't have any clerk experience, but what i do have is vast administration and IT experience....I can only assume that I will be trained in the areas that you have mentioned.

    Oh I forgot to mention, the LEA did say that I will be shadowing a clerk to gain experience...is that any good?
  6. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    You could try and negotiate it with the school, but my guess they would say its down to you on hardware. A very good recording device would be around £150. As regards a lap top the school may be able to lend one to you.

    Feedback is usually for alerting members to regulations and legislation or information that you know may be happening in other schools or at the LA. It is not really for the clerk to be involved in every conversation in a similar manner to being a governor. But there is nothing wrong in giving wisdom in all sorts of areas, just not everything. You might test the water a bit first and see how you go.

    You need to get a decent relationship with the chair and head.

    Shadowing a clerk is great, can't think of anything better - in a sense your very own mentor. Make sure you have plenty of questions for them and ask if you can have their phone number for advice as you go along.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Yes if you are an employee under a contract of employment, but not if you have been taken on as a self employed independent contractor. Which are you?

    Does your LA have a job description? Might be worth going through that as well.

    Many LAs run a termly 'clerks briefing' for all clerks to schools in their LA, whether employed through the LA or not. Check if yours does and get the dates.
  8. Thanks very much Rott Weiler (Love the name, lol!).

    AFAIK, I'll be employed by the Council's LA, so no I won't be self-employed. I'm not sure about a clerks briefing or even know what it is.
  9. montiagh

    montiagh New commenter

    If you are LA employed, the rule of thumb is that your LA will charge around £250 per full GB meeting to a school usually via an SLA (Service Level Agreement) and you will get around 1/4 to 1/3rd of that. Your LA should have a Governors section that provide briefings for chairs and clerks usually termly. In essence it will be a meeting to brief you on new legislation and what's happening in your LA with regards to matters schools/education.
  10. Thanks montiagh.

    I just hope that the meetings are not too boring, otherwise i'll fall asleep, lol!
  11. Most local authority and for that matter many independent clerks, do clerk more than one school – indeed many local authority clerks are responsible for multiple governing bodies. Does the specification set out what meetings you are expected to cover – i.e. is it just full governing body meetings – the hours you’ve quoted suggest this may be the case. If so, as well as seeking to clerk more than one governing body there may be scope to build hours through also clerking committees of the governing body.

    As new clerk with little experience I would recommend that you seek appropriate training as soon as possible and familiarise yourself with the relevant regulations, or articles of association if you are clerking an academy. The Department for Education’s Governors’ Handbook is a good starting point, but if you are to provide good procedural advice you will also need to be familiar with the actual regulations. Others on the forum have pointed you in the direction of a number of useful websites and I would of course include the NGA’s in that – www.nga.org.uk. Good luck in your role.

    Stephen Adamson

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