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“Heather was the clerk for an Independent Exclusion Hearing which I chaired. Heather provided a very professional approach with all documentation being provided in an accurate and timely manner.”

- Chair of Governors, Pittville School


Services

I offer a flexible Clerking and Governor Advisory Service to support Governors/Trustees in their statutory responsibilities to operate an effective and efficient Governing Body.  I have been a Clerk since 2008 and have completed the Department for Education Programme NVQ Level 3 for Clerks through Hampshire County Council and another with the National College of Teaching and Learning. 

I currently provide clerking and governance services to one Independent School (Steiner Waldorf), two Single Academy Trusts one of which is a specialist provision for Autism, one MAT specialist Autism School and three Local Authority maintained Schools.  I can provide virtual meeting services via Zoom if necessary and willing to provide emergency last minute Clerking services during the day or evening including weekends. 

Governing board

Governors work together to provide independent oversight of the management and operation of a school, with the aim of improving the quality of education provided and raising standards.  A school’s governing body does not run the school on a day to day basis; this is the job of the Head Teacher and other senior staff.  Being a school governor is a chance to experience leadership at Board Level at any point in one’s career. 

Governors balance the school’s budget, hire the Head Teacher and make strategic decisions.  The role provides individuals with the opportunity to develop and hone skills such as negotiation, influencing and teamwork.  Governors needs to be dedicated people who are about improving education, but they do not need prior board experience.  It makes the role perfect for professionals looking to improve their business and leadership skills, give back to society and enhance children’s futures. 

Full governors meetings

The Agenda for the Full Governors Board meeting can be the difference between an efficient, productive meeting and one that rambles on endlessly.  I work to a termly agenda template for governing board meetings and invite governors to propose agenda items around three weeks before the meeting.  The basic agenda will include: Apologies for Absence, Declaration of interests, Board membership matters, Minutes of the last meeting, Actions arising from the last board meeting or any committee meetings, News items in order of greatest importance and any other urgent business. 

About two weeks before the meeting the Agenda will be finalised by the Head Teacher and Chair and then one week before the meeting the Agenda and papers will be distributed to the Full Governing Board.  My clerking services would include the step by step process of organising a Full Governing Board meeting followed by the production of professional Minutes. 

Committee meetings

A Governing Body is required to have certain statutory committees but may also wish to establish other committees.  Most governors are members of one or two committees, whose work is reported back to the full governing body.  This is so all governors are kept informed of matters and working progress.  Typical committees include Personnel, Curriculum, Premises, and Finance/Audit.  Maintained School Boards are required to make sure enough teaching time is provided for pupils to cover the National Curriculum and other statutory requirements. 

Academy boards should make sure their school is complying with its funding agreement and teaching a “broad and balanced curriculum” which includes English, Maths and Science (except in alternative provision academies which do not have to teach Science).  I can provide Clerking services to Minute such meetings. 

Head teacher performance panel

I can provide guidance on assembling your Head Teacher appraisal panel, including who to appoint and what’s required in maintained Schools and Academies.  Governing Boards in maintained schools are required to carry out their Head Teacher’s annual appraisal and must follow the appraisal regulations.  Academies do not have to follow these regulations, but it is good practice, as explained in the Department for Education’s model appraisal policy. 

A panel of three governors is ideal as this allows for a good balance of views and maintained schools must appoint an external adviser to support and guide the panel through the appraisal process.  Academies are not required to appoint an external adviser but it is good practice to do so.  It is also recommended these Panels are Minuted by a professional Clerk. 

Complaints panel

All maintained schools are expected to respond to all new and existing complaints in line with their policy.  The guidance for Academies does not currently set out the same expectation, but the guidance for maintained schools serves as best practice and is recommended for procedural purposes.  Schools should always first try to resolve complaints informally at the earliest possible stage. 

If the issue cannot be resolved informally, it will be escalated to a formal complaint consisting of two stages (1) Formal Stage – this usually involves the complaint being put in writing to the Head Teacher who will investigate and try to resolve the issue.  (2) Panel Stage – the complaint progresses to a hearing where the matter is discussed in front of a panel who  make a judgement. 

There should be three governors on the panel who have had no previous involvement in the complaint.  Panel members should be able to act impartially so if they know staff or parents involved in the complaint then putting them in difficult situations with colleagues or their child’s teacher should be avoided.  If a School is unable to make up a panel of its own Governors then Governors from another School can be used and I can recommend independent Governors for such panels.  I can provide a professional Clerking service for Complaints Panels for Heads, Parents, Chairs, Staff and Governors. 

Pupil exclusion panel

While the management of behaviour in schools is an operational role for the senior leadership team, governing boards have a statutory duty to consider certain instances of pupil exclusion and decide whether the decision should be upheld or the pupil reinstated.  Considering whether or not to uphold the Head Teacher’s decision to exclude is one of the most challenging and important roles that school Governors and Trustees have to fulfil, because it has significant implications for a child’s education and potentially for the governing board’s relationship with the Head Teacher and other School staff. 

Being part of a panel reviewing a Head Teacher’s decision to exclude can be challenging and even emotionally draining.  The issues involved can arouse strong feelings and be upsetting to everyone involved.  When placed in this situation Governors and Trustees involved should approach reviewing exclusions with a focus on whether the decision was lawful, reasonable and fair.  I can provide a Clerking Service for both School and Independent Pupil Exclusion Panel Hearings. 

Admission panel

It is important for the Clerk be clear on how to co-ordinate a panel hearing in a fair and transparent way.  I can help with identifying who needs to be on the panel and who cannot be on the panel, preparing document packs ahead of the meeting and sending it to all parties involved, arranging a meeting time for the hearing and making sure it’s in line with any statutory timeframes, preparing the agenda, setting up the room that the meeting will be held in or the virtual platform if the meeting is being held remotely, production of decision letters, Minutes and informing participants of the outcome of the Panel Hearing.   

Staff disciplinary

The Department for Education does not set out how staff discipline hearings should be held but there is good guidance from ACAS and various Local Authorities, Unions, Law Firms and Education Experts on how these can be held.  I can assist in Clerking Services for making sure your proceedings are professional and fair and ensuring that governing boards are mindful of their obligations under employment law.  In maintained schools the FGB must approve disciplinary and grievance procedures for staff whereas Academy trusts may delegate this duty. 

In any disciplinary meeting or hearing a Clerk should be employed to take Minutes of the meeting and act as a witness to what was said.  Decisions can be given verbally at the end of the Hearing or in writing later.  Either way, the decision must be confirmed in writing within 5 working days of the hearing, to the employee, and their representative and the manager presenting the case. 

If there are complex issues then the School should consider seeking their own independent legal advice so that the School can receive advice based on the context of our situation.  This is particularly important for any process which may result in the dismissal of a member of staff.