Pro Clerking Newsletter – May 2022

The Pro Clerking Monthly Newsletter for May 2022 is now available via the link below:

Including:

  • Good to know:  Sector updates
  • Latest on the blog
  • Spotlight on:  Upcoming workshops
  • Top links

Remember Pro Clerking GVO members get 20% off all workshops plus you can email me at elliehully@proclerking.com to arrange to be invoiced.

Want to receive Pro Clerking newsletters and updates directly to your inbox?  Subscribe here.

All my best

Ellie

Upcoming Pro Clerking Workshops

Have you joined our Free Pro Clerking GVO community? Find out more here.

The DfE’s Schools White Paper: What does it mean for Governance?

As I’m sure you are aware, at the end of March the DfE released their widely awaited white paper – Opportunity for all: strong schools with great teachers for your child.

The paper provided an insight into future national education policy and, as expected, had a strong indication towards a full trust based education system in the UK with the majority of schools (90%) being within or in the process of joining a MAT by 2030. It is worth noting at this point that the white paper is not legally mandated – but rather to set out the Government’s vision for education policy.

The paper is separated into 4 clear chapters:

  1. School improvement and what is needed for the teaching profession
  2. Curriculum and the minimum expectation of the length of the school week
  3. Targeted support including the parent pledge on engagement and broadening the use of pupil premium funding
  4. A stronger and fairer school system – aka the move to a fully trust based education system

What does a stronger and fairer school system mean?

The DfE is focusing on the development of a “family of schools” and aims to have all schools within or joining a “strong trust” by 2030. A “strong trust” exhibits:

  • High quality and inclusive education
  • School improvement
  • Strategic governance
  • Strong and effective financial management
  • A strong workforce including prioritisation of staff wellbeing

What does strategic governance look like within a “strong trust”?

  • An effective and robust governance structure
  • The involvement of schools and exemplification of ethical standards
  • Utilising the expertise and skills on it’s board to oversee strategic direction and hold senior leaders to account
  • Inclusion of a strong local identity that effectively engages with parents and members of the wider community

Local governance arrangements

The paper was very clear about the continued need for trust’s to have local governance arrangement in place. The NGA has suggested some key local governance expectations including:

  • The importance of separation between the 3 distinct governance layers within a trust (Members/Trustees/Local Governance) to ensure accountability but also the need for 2-way communication and clear delegation between each layer
  • The investment in lead governance professionals to provide professional, expert advice
  • The acceptance of meaningful challenge
  • For local governance to be formed of local volunteers, not executives
  • For Trust Boards to be visible to local governance and local governors having input in the performance management and recruitment of headteachers as well as contribute to school improvement and be aware of the school’s budget plan
  • For a trust-wide development plan that encourages local governors to learn from schools outside their trust

Other key take home points

  • The DfE wants to eliminate the number of “empty” MATs with a trajectory for Trusts to have a minimum of 7,500 pupils or 10 schools
  • No upper limit has been placed on the number of pupils or schools within a MAT but organisations will not be be able to run indefinitely without excellent outcomes
  • Better regulatory procedures will be put in place for trusts including new statutory intervention powers
  • Good and outstanding schools may request being moved to a stronger trust in exceptional circumstances
  • Local Authorities will remain at the heart of the education system with new powers to deliver legal responsibilities
  • New standards will be introduced for MATs including collaboration standards to ensure the best outcomes for children

Additional thoughts and next steps

Although the white paper didn’t particularly hold any new huge announcements it was useful to have clarity on the DfE’s strategic vision for national education policy and reflect on where we are within our own establishments. The big take-home items for me would be the recognition of the need for investment in lead Governance Professionals, the continued need for local governance (and so local Clerks) and the LA’s continued role at the heart of the education system.

What are your thoughts on the white paper? Has this kick-started any conversations within your establishment?

Upcoming workshops

Clerking with Confidence Workshop Summer 1 – Monday 16th May 10-12pm, £15

Exclusions Workshop in collaboration with Sarah Shortt from Brighter Futures for Children – Monday 23rd May 10-12pm, £50.40

Compliance Workshop – Wednesday 22nd June 10-12pm, £30

I could also run an additional Company Secretary Workshop if there is enough interest.

View and book onto upcoming workshops here – want to receive 20% off all workshops? Why not consider joining our FREE Pro Clerking GVO Community?

All my best

Ellie

elliehully@proclerking.com

The Governance Professional’s Annual Planner 2022-23 is now available for pre-order!

Planners due to be shipped June 2022 – find out more and pre-order your planner here

Coming soon…..

The Clerking with Confidence Academy – a self-paced online course with pick n mix modules – enrolment for 2022-23 opening soon!

Have you joined our Free Pro Clerking GVO community? Find out more here.

NGA’s Governance Professional’s Conference Round-up 2022

Welcome back to to the summer 1 term! I hope you all had a restful Easter break and have come back fully refreshed for the term ahead. Here at Pro Clerking it’s an incredibly busy (and short!) term with lots of workshops, client training and of course the launch of the Governance Professional’s Annual Planner 2022-23.

At the end of March the NGA held their 2022 Governance Professional’s Conference so I thought it would be nice to do a summary round-up of key take home points for those who weren’t able to attend.

Day 1 of the conference focused on the introduction of a career pathway for Governance Professionals (GPs), the growing MAT sector and implications for GPs and reviewing governance including the launch of the NGA’s 20 and 21 questions. Day 2 the covered legal updates and the role of the Company Secretary.

Of course, the slight elephant in the room was the DfE’s newly published Schools White Paper which includes the aimed move towards MATs. Due to timing, the conference didn’t focus any more on this in particular; however, I will be summarising the White Paper and any implications for GPs in next week’s blog post.

Key take home points

  • The NGA is committed to creating a career pathway for GPs
  • This includes qualifications, roles, entry level, case studies, CPD expectations and pay benchmarking
  • Suggested 3 distinct levels – Clerking level, Governance co-ordinator level and Lead Governance Professional Level
  • The NGA are seeking volunteers to be part of a focus group – first meeting Tuesday 10th May 2-3pm – email amy.wright@nga.org.uk
  • The growing MAT sector – to be covered in next week’s blog post
  • The NGA has re-evaluated and refreshed it’s 20 questions to better reflect changes in governance and to ensure board self-review is both proportionate and impactful
  • The review, including a consultation period, resulted in an updated structure – 20 questions for single schools, 21 questions for Trust Boards and 15 questions for academy committees
  • The NGA highly recommend using RAG (red, amber, green) rating for self-evaluations to highlight areas of strength and those that potentially need work
  • The conference highlighted other ways of conducting reviews including Chair’s 360, annual informal Board member evaluation and external reviews of governance
  • Mark Blois from Browne Jacobson provided a legal update including the following: provision of virtual meetings, noting the need for Academy Trusts to ensure meetings are held in line with their Articles, provisions to change how admission appeals operate have been extended to September 2022, statutory timescales for exclusions now apply as usual with updated regulations expected this autumn and proposed changes to KCSIE 2022 including GBs and proprietors will need to ensure that all governors and trustees receive appropriate safeguarding training at induction and such training should be regularly updated
  • The role of the Company Secretary including the following: bridge between governance and management – in all honesty I felt the speaker missed the mark with his presentation and talked more about the general role of GPs rather than the specific role of a Company Secretary

Additional thoughts and next steps

I found the discussion about a career path for GPs really interesting as this is something I already value and have thought about in depth as part of Pro Clerking and how I can support Clerks and GPs to see their role as a fulfilling career in which you can progress. More on this in a later blog post.

As a follow up to several of the points raised at the conference I would like to invite you to join the following workshops:

Clerking with Confidence Workshop Summer 1 – Monday 16th May 10-12pm, currently at early bird offer price of £9.60

Exclusions Workshop in collaboration with Sarah Shortt from Brighter Futures for Children – Monday 23rd May 10-12pm, £50.40

Compliance Workshop – Wednesday 22nd June 10-12pm, £30

I could also run an additional Company Secretary Workshop if there is enough interest.

View and book onto upcoming workshops here – want to receive 20% off all workshops? Why not consider joining our FREE Pro Clerking GVO Community?

All my best

Ellie

elliehully@proclerking.com

The Governance Professional’s Annual Planner 2022-23 is now available for pre-order!

Planners due to be shipped June 2022 – find out more and pre-order your planner here

Coming soon…..

The Clerking with Confidence Academy – a self-paced online course with pick n mix modules – enrolment for 2022-23 opening soon!

Have you joined our Free Pro Clerking GVO community? Find out more here.

Pro Clerking Newsletter – April 2022

The Pro Clerking Monthly Newsletter for April 2022 is now available via the link below:

Including:

  • Good to know:  Sector updates
  • Spotlight on:  Clerking Exclusions Panels Workshop 
  • Upcoming workshops – Remember Pro Clerking GVO members get 20% off all workshops using GVO2022 at checkout (or email me at elliehully@proclerking.com to arrange to be invoiced)

Want to receive Pro Clerking newsletters and updates directly to your inbox?  Subscribe here.

All my best

Ellie

Upcoming Pro Clerking Workshops

Have you joined our Free Pro Clerking GVO community? Find out more here.

Spotlight on: Governor Recruitment & Diversity

One of NGA’s 8 elements of effective governance is having the “right people around the table”. From evaluating your current board to succession planning and governor recruitment, ensuring you have an effective governing board of volunteers, including recruiting from underrepresented groups, is not always an easy task!

The NGA’s updated Right People Around the Table guidance provides practical advice on governor recruitment, including prioritising diversity. The NGA’s Skills Audit has also been renamed the Skills and Diversity Audit.

Here are some top tips to help you create a robust governor recruitment process:

Be transparent

Ensure vacancies are transparent around what governance looks like both more generally and in your specific setting. Ensure you include information about the role, eligibility and responsibility of governors in addition to expectations in terms of time, travel and availability. Also remember to make it clear how to apply or ask for more information.

Use a wide range of channels

By opening up your recruitment process to a wide range of channels you are actively encouraging diversity. From local media to Linkedin and twitter – think outside the box!

Actively encourage diversity

“A diverse Board brings greater awareness of the different challenges experienced by the communities we serve. It reduces blind spots and leads to better decision-making”

Kam Kothia, Chair of Trustees at Star Academies

Set a culture for equality and diversity as a fundamental believe and guiding principle for the evolution of your Board to ensure it best serves the commities it supports. Create an inclusion culture by inviting and welcoming both challenge and support.

Consider peer on peer review

Peer on peer review of your recruitment process can offer key insights into where you could improve inclusivity and diversity.

Be visible

As well as being transparent around governance, help potential applicants to understand the role of governance in your setting by being actively visible in your role and encourage meaningful engagement with stakeholders.

Have a high quality induction process

Ensure a high-quality induction process for all governors is in place. On the flip side, encourage fresh perspectives with meaningful succession planning.

What would you add to this list? What barriers do you face with governor recruitment? Have you considered the diviersity and incluivity of your Board?

All my best

Ellie

Summer workshop dates will be circulated soon!

Have you joined our Free Pro Clerking GVO community? Find out more here.

Spotlight on: Regulatory Documents

What do you mean by regulatory documents?

Regulatory documents determine the way in which an education setting is set up and overseen. They outline the legal requirements by which school governance is held to account and guidance around the role and functions of governance.

LA maintained vs. academies

Regulations depend upon the type of school. Schools fall generally under two categories – LA maintained and DfE funded (academies and free schools) which dictate the regulations they fall under.

Regulatory documents for LA maintained schools

E.g Community, church, foundation and special schools

Regulatory documents:

  • Governance Handbook : includes guidance from the DfE outlining the core role and functions of governance. It is the first point of reference for legal duties and includes a lot of links to additional documents and information.
  • School Governance Regulations : Two documents – 1. Roles, Prodecures and Allowances – provides guidance on legal obligations and duties of a governing board 2. Constitution – the way in which governance is made up (number and types of governor)
  • Competancy Frameworks : Two documents – 1. Competancy Framework for Governance 2. Clerking Competancy Framework – both documents outline the knowledge, skills and behaviours for effective governance
  • Instrument of Government : Legal document recording the constitution and terms of office for a government body and the legal name of the school
  • Standing Orders : Sets out the rules for how your governing body works (not a legal document)

Regulatory documents for academies

Academies are governed by the DfE and company and charity law as companies limited by guarantee and exempt charities. Therefore, their regulatory documents look different to those of LA maintained schools.

Regulatory documents:

  • The first three documents above (governance handbook, regulations and competancy frameworks) also relate to academies; however, are not binding
  • Articles of Association : set out the charitabe purpose and governance structure of the trust
  • Funding Agreement : Master Funding Agreement is the legal contract between the Secretary of State (government) and the academy trust. Schools within a MAT will also have Supplementary Funding Agreements for each school that joins the MAT
  • Scheme of Delegation : agreement between the trust board and local governing body or headteacher setting out the delegated authority given by the trust board

Other regulatory documents (for LA maintained and academies)

  • Code of Conduct : a statutory document that sets out rules and proper practices of governance. This is reviewed and agreed annually
  • Terms of Reference : often seen for committees, TOR (non-obligatory) can also be put in place for the full governing body to outline the structure and purpose of the board and a framework by which the board can be held to account

All my best

Ellie

Upcoming training from Pro Clerking

Effective Minute Taking – Wednesday 9th March 10-12pm

Clerking with Confidence Workshop – Monday 21st March 10-12pm

Can’t make the live session? All workshops are recorded and any resources are circulated to delegates following the live workshop.

Have you joined our Free Pro Clerking GVO community? Find out more here.

Spotlight on: Persons of Significant Control

This week’s blog post is a spotlight on Persons of Significant Control (or PSCs).

*Please note: PSCs only apply to Academy Trusts!*

What are PSCs?

PSCs relate to any individual or group (aka corporate Member) who has the ability to exercise “significant” control, i.e. more than 25% of voting rights

Where and why do PSCs need to be declared?

Academy Trusts are companies limited by guarantee and therefore, under company law, must declare any PSCs in both their statutory (or governance) books/registers and at Companies House.

How do I know if an individual or group are a PSC and need to be declared?

PSCs relate to Members of Academy Trusts when there are fewer than 4 Members in post (noting the minimum requirement of 3 and suggested best practice of 5) as 3 Members would hold more than 25% voting rights, and to groups such as a sponsor or umbrella trust who have the ability to appoint the majority of Trustees.

So essentially – if you have 4 or more Members, none of which are a corporate Member, then none of these need to be named as PSCs.

If you have just the minimum of 3 Members they will each need to be individually named as PSCs.  The same as if you were to have a corporate Member with the ability to appoint the majority of Trustees.  

PSCs do not relate to Trustees as they are already declared on Companies House.

What information do I need to declare?

Below is an example of the information required when declaring a PSC:

  • Name – name of individual or group
  • Correspondance Address – If a person, use the Trust’s registered address
  • Governing Law – e.g. UK Companies Act
  • Legal Form – e.g. Company Limited by Guarantee
  • Place Registered – e.g.UK
  • Registration Number – e.g. Company number
  • Nature of Control – e.g. right to appoint and remove Trustees

All my best

Ellie

Have you joined our Free Pro Clerking GVO community? Find out more here.

Blogmas Day 18: Merry Christmas from Pro Clerking and GVO + Exclusive Discount Code

Welcome to day 18 of Blogmas! Today is the last day of this year’s Blogmas series – I hope you’ve found the posts helpful and, as always, we always welcome comments or feedback!   

To end this year’s series, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year for 2022 from Pro Clerking and GVO

As a Christmas gift here’s an exclusive discount code for 10% off ANY Pro Clerking workshop or resource to use site-wide for the whole of 2022 (one use only)!

BLOGMAS2021 

All our best 

Ellie & Becky

Blogmas Day 17: Blogmas 2021 Overview

Welcome to day 17 of Blogmas! Only a couple of days of this year’s Blogmas series to go now so I thought we’d start to wrap things up with an overview of all the posts we’ve covered: 

Wednesday 1st December Day 1: Welcome and What to Expect 

Thursday 2nd December Day 2: The Head, Chair and Clerk Working Relationship 

Friday 3rd December Day 3: Minute Typing Buzz Words 

Monday 6th December Day 4: Effective Communication with Governors  

Tuesday 7th December Day 5: Spotlight on Associate Members (Maintained Schools) 

Wednesday 8th December Day 6: Top Tips for Policy Management 

Thursday 9th December Day 7: Let’s get organised: The Power Hour 

Friday 10th December Day 8: Clerking with Confidence Workshops  

Monday 13th December Day 9: The Clerks’ Annual Planner – New Product for 2022! 

Tuesday 14th December Day 10: Meeting Prep for the Spring Term 

Wednesday 15th December Day 11: Spotlight on GIAS 

Thursday 16th December Day 12: Top Tips for Company Secretaries 

Friday 17th December Day 13: Spotlight on New Governors  

Monday 20th December Day 14: New Year Resolutions for Clerks (Part 1) 

Tuesday 21st December Day 15: New Year Resolutions for Clerks (Part 2) 

Wednesday 22nd December Day 16: Paper Free Governance 

And of course, if you are part of the Pro Clerking GVO pilot all these posts are available either from the online calendar or in the documents section.   

Which post(s) have you found most helpful?  Let us know in the comments below! 

Coming up

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox.

Day 18:  Merry Christmas from Pro Clerking and GVO!  + exclusive discount code for 2022!

Ellie

http://www.proclerking.co.uk

Blogmas Day 16: Paper Free Governance

Welcome to day 16 of Blogmas! In today’s post we’ll be looking at the benefits of and some of the ways in which you could consider taking governance in your setting either partly or fully paper-free.  As we all know, the elephant in the room (ahem Covid), has stepped up our use of technology for everything from online meetings to cloud-based filing and even virtual Ofsted visits!  Chances are you’re already using some kind of online platform to share information and connect with governors/trustees, but just how far are you willing to take this endeavour into the online world?  Or are you looking forward to cracking open those hardback files, dusting off the printer and setting up your label maker? 

I am definitely a self-proclaimed stationery lover (and even run my own planner business and have plans to produce an annual planner specifically for Clerks…. see the Blogmas Day 9 post here) and there’s nothing like taking pen to paper to have a good old brain dump and organise.  However, I can also appreciate the benefits of running an online office.   

Using less paper is obviously good for the environment plus less travel with virtual meetings has huge benefits to our carbon footprint.  But did you also know that reducing the amount of paper clutter in your workspace (and home) can have huge mental health benefits and reduce stress?  Ok, so I know that technology is great when it works and when it doesn’t…..well we’ve all been there but if going fully or partly paper-free is one of your goals for 2022 (it’s definitely one of mine!) let’s look at some practical ways you can reduce the paper clutter in your workspace: 

  1. Invoices and contracts 

If you are a freelance Clerk you can use an online platform (such as QuickBooks) to process and store your payments and invoices.  From scanning and electronically filing receipts to completing your tax return online there really isn’t any need to print out a single page.  HMRC notifications can also be sent via email so all your tax statements and reminders remain online.  Client contracts can also be sent via email and signed electronically using sites such as Docusign.   

  1. Electronic diary and planning 

Chances are you are already using Outlook (or equivalent) to plan and invite attendees to online meetings; however, have you considered using your electronic diary to plan out your entire day?  Or to add deadlines for minutes or sending papers out or reminders for actions to which governors can be invited to?  Or what about policy management?  There are also some really great (and mostly free) online project management tools (such as TrelloAsana (my personal favourite) or Microsoft Planner) which can be used to plan tasks, workloads or even repetitive checklists such as a pre and post meeting planner.   

  1. File storage and notes 

You may already use online file storage spaces such as OneDrive and/or SharePoint but have you ever considered taking and filing notes online?  From typing directly into an online Word document to taking quick notes in your IOS Notes app there are loads of great options for taking notes online.  Or if you love a bit of tech and have an Apple Pencil (or equivalent) you can use an app such as Noteshelf to physically handwrite notes which can then be converted and stored as PDF documents or some apps even allow you to transfer your handwritten notes to text!  Then of course there’s the more “traditional” scan and save approach for any loose paperwork lying around! 

  1. Travel and parking expenses  

If there is a need for you to travel and you get reimbursed for either mileage or parking you can use a mileage tracker app and most car parks now enable you to pay via an app which then produces an electronic receipt for you to submit with your expenses claim – no more worrying about lost pay and display tickets! 

  1. Online governance platform 

Of course, an absolutely ideal way to manage all your governance needs is to invest in an online platform specifically designed for governance.  The Governors Virtual Office (GVO) provides a secure location to keep your governors’ information available online at all times, to help governors become more engaged with the school and its governance. Enabling governors to arrive at meetings fully informed and creating time to spend on focused debate of strategic issues means that GVO can be a great aid to the effectiveness and efficiency of governance. 

Coming up

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox.

Day 17:  Blogmas 2021 overview

Ellie

http://www.proclerking.co.uk