Building a team approach to the leadership of the Board is one of the key principles of effective governance and the role played by the clerk in this team is increasingly falling under the spotlight; particularly on one day Ofsted inspections where minutes can have a impact on the perception of the effectiveness of the Board.
However, effective clerking of the Board will depend heavily on a sound working relationship and good communications between the clerk, the chair of the governing Board or committee and the Headteacher. There is an increasing level of conversation nationally about need for, and importance of, professional and more importantly independent, clerking. The recently published Clerking Competency Framework is an invaluable place from which to start this conversation.
The Competency Framework clearly sets out the skills and effective behaviours a professional clerk should demonstrate, and these are based, quite rightly, around systems and processes. The Framework states that: professional clerking builds and maintains professional working relationships with the Board which is the foundation to providing impartial advice and support.
The 12 effective behaviours listed in the Framework focus on communication skills, knowledge of governance and commitment. But what about the other importance factors, perhaps more the personal attributes, which make the relationship between the Chair, the Headteacher and the clerk effective or not effective?
How the clerk supports the relationship between the Head, the Chair and the Board is also important. Regular dialogue is vital and having clear channels of communication and an agreement about ‘who does what and when’ is critical to smooth administration meetings.
It is the responsibility of the Governing Board to decide who should act as clerk to the Board meeting so it is important that they appoint someone with appropriate skills and knowledge. It is also good practice to support their development through appropriate training. Whilst it is acceptable, and indeed common, to appoint a member of the school staff to clerk the need to be aware of where the boundaries lie can become blurred. A detail role description can help avoid misunderstanding and avoid potential conflicts of interest; both of which can unsettle a Board.
Aside from helping you to keep your Board compliant what else does your clerk offer the whole Board in terms of leadership support?
The way that the relationship between the Chair, the Headteacher and the Clerk works is important and has an impact on the way the Board operates. This relationship needs to be respectful of each other’s roles and understands where the boundaries lie particularly in meetings, it needs to be transparent and it needs to remain professional at all times.
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