The Unsung Heroes of Governance

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Sat in a governor meeting this week, I was transfixed for a while by the now rarely seen skill of shorthand being scribed by our clerk. It was truly amazing and such a skill to own, it felt like a secret code.

I believe that behind the majority of well performing governing bodies are exceptional clerks but their contribution to governance can go unnoticed and taken for granted. In this post I am going to share my top tips for valuing your clerk and letting them know just how much they contribute to you’re governing body.

  1. Make the effort to understand their work outside of your governing body. Most of the clerks that I have met clerk for more than one governing body and across a range of schools. Each governing body is likely to have a different set of expectations and juggling the competing priorities for these is likely to be a challenge for the clerk. Each governing body will want their own needs to take priority and good clerk will manage theses competing priorities with professionalism and sensitivity and the governing bodies shouldn’t even notice but do take the time to pay attention to your clerks range of roles and take an interest in how they manage this.
  2. Consider your clerk when arranging meetings. As a governor myself, I understand the need to plan governance duties in as time efficient way as possible so to manage the impact on work and family life – let’s face it, it’s a juggling act at times. However it is important to consider how this impacts on clerks, especially considering my point above. I have heard examples of clerks having up to 10 meetings in one week due to unexpected exclusion meetings or staffing panels. A clerks work does not finish when the meeting ends. They have to write up the meeting minutes, which can take up hours of time and often having to be completed within certain timescales. Whilst I accept this is unlikely to be the norm it does happen and should be a consideration of governors when planning meetings.
  3. Support you clerk to develop their own practice and knowledge. This is a win win for governing bodies and schools. A highly knowledgable clerk is only going to be of benefit. Clerking can be an isolating role so encourage your clerk to attend local clerking forums and meet others in similar roles or consider how you support your clerk in between meetings. This is an area I am passionate about, if there is no provision for clerking support in your area then get in touch and we can have a chat about the ways that I may be able to help
  4. Provide your clerk with performance management. We all deserve the opportunity for feedback in our roles, to be developed and have an opportunity to receive feedback and have agreed targets to work towards. It is also important that as employees we get to share our own views about our successes and challenges and be listened to. Performance management is a positive tool in supporting the development of clerks and to demonstrate to them that you value them and are committed to supporting them. It is also an opportunity to support clerks who may not be performing as they should to improve their practice with identified actions or training.

I hope that there is something that governors can take away from this post and implement. If you do then please let me know how it is received. If you are supporting your clerk in a way that I have not mentioned then, as always, please share below.

Clerks, if you want to share any great support you have received or have your own ideas then please comment below.

A final word from me……..

Governors when you say your end of year thank-yous in a week or so then please remember to drop a note to your clerk too. Small gestures can have a big impact.Y

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