Welcome to the Clerking Matters campaign page!
In 2013 NGA and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) hosted a roundtable discussion. We found that the critical issues facing school governing boards in regard to clerks were: lack of understanding of the importance of a trained clerk; the need to pay clerks appropriately for a professional job; and how and where governing boards can source good clerks, and develop them further.
NGA re-launched the Clerking Matters campaign with four main aims:
- to increase the understanding of the importance of the work of clerks and what can be expected of a well-trained clerk
- to help governing boards find good clerks where there is difficulty in doing this
- to help clerks know where continuing professional development can be found
- to encourage appropriate remuneration of clerks
Progress so far
The campaign achieved some notable successes, such as Lord Nash announcing the funding for the Clerks Development Programme. After many requests from both clerks and governors, the campaign was relaunched in 2016. The first stage was to set up a clerks’ advisory group made up of experienced practitioners to help develop and drive the agenda. The group met for the first time in Birmingham in February 2016 and you can read about what happened on the clerks' advisory group page.
There is a widespread consensus that professional clerking is a good thing, but some governing boards can be unsure what that means. NGA published a model job description which not only set out the expectations of the role, but could also be used by governing boards to determine what they can expect from their clerk.
Find Us A Clerk
From speaking to our members we discovered that some schools had encountered difficulties in recruiting a clerk. NGA therefore piloted Find Us A Clerk, a free service that gives schools a platform to advertise their vacant clerks’ positions. Available clerks can also advertise their services so that schools can contact them directly. Following a review of the service we can confirm that NGA will be continuing with this.
Training was also a concern to members so we were extremely pleased when Lord Nash announced DfE plans to invest in training for clerks via the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL).
NGA sat on the steering group which developed the programme and the Eastern Leadership Centre (ELC), in partnership with NGA, now deliver the Clerks’ Development Programme around the country.
Clerks can access guidance specific to their role in our Guidance Centre. Here you will find detailed notes on a range of topics, including organising meetings, recording information, advising the governing body and how the school is governed. If you're not a member, find out more about joining the NGA here.
What still needs to be done? To help NGA gain a better understanding of the issues affecting clerks we conducted a survey which received nearly 900 responses. The survey covered a range of areas including the clerk’s role, remuneration and professional development. It was completed by clerks of both school governing bodies and academy trust boards.
Some clerks felt that their role is undervalued. Respondents told us about the challenges they face trying to get their governing boards to understand the importance of the role and that
it is so much more than sending out papers and recording minutes. Pay also featured heavily with clerks feeling that the remuneration they received was not commensurate with the role and often did not take into account the additional work carried out outside meetings.
NGA is often asked what a reasonable rate of pay is for a clerk. Unfortunately there is no simple answer and in our experience rates of pay can vary greatly. A clerk is a professional role and NGA believes that clerks should be paid accordingly. NGA’s good practice for governing boards is already informed by governance in other sectors and
we intend to do the same for clerking. We will look at clerks in other sectors, both to inform our good practice guidance and just as importantly the remuneration debate.
So while we’ve made important progress, we know there is more work to do to ensure that a clerk’s role gets the recognition it deserves.
Read more about the Clerking Matters campaign:
2017 - Inaugural NGA Clerks confernece Feb 2017
Rani Kaur is NGA’s senior advice officer and campaign lead for Clerking Matters. Email Rani: firstname.lastname@example.org