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

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


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

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Day 17:  Blogmas 2021 overview


Blogmas Day 15: New Year’s Resolutions for Clerks (Part 2)

Welcome to day 15 of Blogmas! Today we’ll continue looking at the 5 steps of The Goal Getter {mini} Academy (GGmA) in preparation for the New Year.  In day 14’s blogmas post we covered steps 1-3 – finding your purpose, setting your goals and gaining confidence – check out the full post here.  Today we’ll continue with steps 4 and 5.

Step 4:   Taking action

You’ve thought about your “why”, set some goals and worked on your confidence – now it’s time to do the work and take action!  Four ways to do this are:• Set habits• Create discipline• Build routines• Stay accountable 

For each goal think of the habits which link to that goal, break these down into tasks, work out how often these tasks need to be done to move you closer to your goal (are these short or long term goals?  Do they need daily, weekly or monthly attention?), create routines or workflows which incorporate these habits and tasks (do you need to set aside 30 mins at the end of your working day to dedicate to your tasks?  Can you create a workflow to empty your inbox at the end of every week?) then think of a way to stay accountable (set achievable deadlines or milestones in your diary, commit to your Chair or Head to review and send an update on policies every month etc.)

Step 5:  The compound effect

As with so many things, consistency is key.  You now have the tools to go from your “why” right through to taking action– now rinse and repeat!  Goals, tasks and routines will most likely need tweaking, but I guarantee with every tweak improvements will be made and tasks will become easier and more efficient.  Often the hardest part of something is starting.  A repeated system of small, seemingly insignificant actions can reap huge rewards.  

Small choices + consistency + time = significant results 

(The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy)

Coming up

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Day 16:  Paper free governance


Blogmas Day 14: New Year’s Resolutions for Clerks (Part 1)

Welcome to day 14 of Blogmas! Today we’ll be looking ahead to the New Year and looking at how to set and follow through on our goals for 2022.  Back in the summer of 2021 I created The Goal Getter {mini} Academy (GGmA).  This 5 step workbook works through everything from broadening your mindset and gaining confidence to setting goals and taking action to make them a reality.  The full GGmA workbook is available to purchase here.  Over the next two blogmas posts I’ll be sharing an overview of the 5 steps in the context of Clerking to help you start thinking about what you’d like to achieve in 2022.  Of course, you don’t need to wait until a new year, month, week or even day – these steps can be implemented at any time you choose – and can be used in any area of your life!

Step 1:   Finding your purpose

The first step in the GGmA is to start broadening your mindset in terms of what It is you actually want to achieve.  Are you aiming to offer the best service possible?  Or do you want to earn more money?  Maybe you would really like to work for yourself.  Or maybe you’d just like to feel more organised and confident you have all your processes and procedures in place!  Really home in on and connecting with the “why” behind your goals can really help focus your goals and realise what it is you actually want to achieve. 

Step 2: Setting your goals

Before you start the process of setting your goals it’s important to keep the “why” from step 1 in the back of your mind – the first part of this step is to ensure the goals you set are aligned with your “why”.  Next, we’ll take a brief look at a system for setting both short and long term goals (more information is available in the full GGmA).  Let’s take the example of the “why” of ultimately working for yourself.  What goals could you set which align with this purpose? 

Short term (<3 months):  Draft out what your business would look like

Long term (>12 months): Take on first client  

Step 3:  Gaining confidence

Ok so we have an idea of our goals and the “why” behind and driving them.  We’ve opened our mindset but, let’s be honest, it’s all incredibly overwhelming and we still don’t know how we’re actually going to achieve these plans!  Before taking action it’s important to build firm foundation blocks for confidence.  You may have heard of victor vs victim mindset.  This technique is all about thinking about the attributes that sit under each of these mindsets then noticing and consciously changing which we use in our everyday lives.  This involves a change in the language we use and the way we act.  Positive self-talk and body language are powerful tools for unlocking confidence.  If you tell yourself you can achieve your goal you will start to believe it and it WILL happen

Tomorrow we’ll look at steps 4 and 5 of the GGmA.

Coming up

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Day 14:  New Year’s resolutions for Clerks (Part 2)


Blogmas Day 13: Spotlight on New Governors

Welcome to day 13 of Blogmas! Today’s post is focusing on new Governors and how to ensure they are properly inducted to the Governing Body (but can also be used/adapted for Trustees of academy trusts).

New Governor Protocol

Your Governing Body should think about their induction protocol for new Governors prior to appointment to ensure the correct information and level of support is provided and that they fully understand the role of a Governor.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Prior to appointment set up an informal “interview” with a potential new governor (with the exception of Parent and Staff Governors who are elected and ex-officio Governors)
  • Provide information about the roles, responsibilities and likely time commitment of being a school governor
  • Should you wish to continue they should be nominated and seconded at the next FGB meeting. A majority vote is needed before the role is offered to the candidate

New Governor Induction

New Governors should be given a school email address, this ensures school information is retained within the school network and protects both the Governor and school under GDPR – even if you are using a platform such as the Governors’ Virtual Office which can be set up with any email address I would advise it is still good practice to set up a school email address for new Governors.

To be emailed to the new Governor by Clerk (to their school email account):

  • Governor Record Form 
  • Declarations of Interest Form 
  • New Governor Policy 
  • Link to the latest Governance Handbook
  • Link to the latest Competency Framework for Governance 
  • Code of Conduct (to be agreed & signed)
  • Governor Visit Policy and Visit Report
  • Governance Structure
  • Minutes of recent meetings (usually the last 3 meetings, not including any confidential minutes)
  • Calendar of future meetings
  • Most recent Ofsted Reports (& other relevant documents)
  • Safeguarding documents (inc. Keeping Children Safe in Education)
  • Contact details for other governors

To be provided by the new Governor:

  • DBS (or they need to apply immediately)
  • Name, address & contact details
  • Business interests
  • Required information for GIAS (e.g. date of birth)

To be offered to the new Governor

  • Governor mentor
  • Governor Induction Training (usually available through your Local Authority (LA) or Multi-Academy Trust (MAT))
  • Tour of the school
  • Introduction to key members of staff
  • Introduction to fellow Governors at the next appropriate meeting

Actions for the Clerk

  • Request school email address
  • Once Governor Record Form completed send this to your LA or MAT
  • Update Register of Interests and Register of Governors 
  • Update Governance pages on school website
  • Update GIAS
  • Update circulation lists / groups

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 14:  New Year’s resolutions for Clerks


Blogmas Day 12: Top Tips for Company Secretaries

Welcome to day 12 of Blogmas! The final countdown is on for the end of term……. but Blogmas will continue right up until 24th December!  Today we’ll be having a quick look at the role of a Company Secretary and sharing some top tips.

What exactly is a Company Secretary?

Traditionally (and in the corporate/legal sector) a Company Secretary is responsible for ensuring compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements of a company.  In education, the title of Company Secretary is used within single and multi-academy Trusts; however, it is not a legal requirement for academy trusts to appoint a Company Secretary and the DfE’s model articles of association do not include this as a requirement.  Nevertheless, a lot of academy trusts do appoint a company secretary to the Trust Board to ensure they fulfil their statutory responsibilities in company, charity and education law. 

Top tips for Company Secretaries:

The role of CS differs slightly from that of a Clerk or Governance professional in a maintained school or of a Local Advisory/Governing Body within a MAT; therefore, it is worth familiarising yourself with the additional requirements such as:

  • What documents need filing with Companies House and when
  • Your Trust’s legal documents – articles of association, master funding agreement etc.
  • Your Trust’s governance structure – Members, Trustees, Local Governors etc. and what information/legalities sit around each layer of governance
  • Other statutory guidance such as the Academy Trust Handbook
  • Annual audit requirements
  • Where to seek further advice in relation to academy specific queries
  • Local or national updates

The best way to learn or keep up to date with what is expected from the role of CS is to undertake CPD at least annually.  Law firms such as Veale Wasborough Vizards or Stone King offer annual training or why not book onto Pro Clerking’s next Company Secretary Workshop on Wednesday 19th January 2022 from 10-12pm via Zoom? 

Day 13:  Spotlight on new governors


Blogmas Day 11: Spotlight on GIAS

Welcome to day 11 of Blogmas! Today’s post is a spotlight on Get Information About Schools aka GIAS.

GIAS is an online DfE register of schools and colleges in England. You can search for and download information on establishments, establishment groups (such as a local authority, trust or federation) or governors.

It is a statutory requirement for schools to keep their GIAS records up to date. Schools can sign in to GIAS using their DfE Sign-in account. This login may be held by the Head or school administrator, or certain access rights can be given to Clerks to allow them to update the Governance area of GIAS.

Things to consider:

  • Your setting’s record should be kept up to date as information changes. It is good practice for updates to be made within 14 days of a change
  • Records need to be regularly confirmed as up to date even if no changes have been made. This needs to be done every 60 days {worth noting in your calendar!}
  • GIAS issues two warning emails if a Governance role term of office is coming to its expiration date; 180 days before the term of office expiry date and on the day the term of office expires
  • For new Governors you will need their full name, email address, who appointed them, home postcode and start and end date of their term of office in order to add them to GIAS. You will be asked for information on their date of birth, previous names etc. but these are not required to save a record
  • You do not need to include information on Associate Members on GIAS

Coming up 

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Day 12:  Top tips for Company Secretaries


Blogmas Day 10: Meeting Prep for the Spring Term

Welcome to day 10 of Blogmas!  We’re now over halfway through the 2021 Blogmas series so I thought today we’d look ahead and start forward planning for the spring term.

Suggested standing items:

  • Welcome, apologies, declarations of interest
  • Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising
  • Headteacher/CEO report – to include attendance, staffing, school development plan (or equivalent) – review of progress to date, Covid update, GDPR etc.
  • Safeguarding and vulnerable groups
  • Governor monitoring visits and reports
  • Policies (as per policy review schedule)
  • AOB
  • Date of next meeting

Key areas to consider for the spring term – dependent upon your setting’s annual schedule of business:

  • HT mid-term performance management
  • Census data
  • School Financial Values Standard (SFVS) (maintained) 
  • S175 Safeguarding Audit 
  • If consultation has taken place on any proposed changes to the Admissions Policy, consider any feedback received and agree final admissions policy 
  • Publish the admission appeals timetable for 2022-23 on the school website  
  • Receive a finance report from the school business manager and ensure challenge is recorded 
  • Review and agree the salaries of teaching and support staff  

Coming up 

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Day 12:  Spotlight on GIAS


Blogmas Day 9: The Clerks’ Annual Planner – New Product for 2022!

Welcome to day 9 of Blogmas!  I hope you’re finding the posts useful so far – we’ve covered a lot of information, most of which I hope you’ve taken snippets from then tucked away to refer to at a later date.  Believe me when I say I know all about feeling overwhelmed with information, which is partly why I designed and produced the 2022 Life Planner over at my other passion project – Business Health & Home.

The 2022 Life Planner is all about trying to capture all those day to day, week to week and month to month tasks, reminders and logs which naturally swim around our busy lives in a meaningful, easy to navigate and stylish planner.  But the concept for the Life Planner actually started with an idea to design and produce a planner for Clerks

As usual with my brain, these ideas take a while to form and float about a bit before I take action and although I’ve had this idea for a number of years the timing hasn’t quite been right so I decided to sit on it and wait until I had the mental and physical capacity to take action really make this product something special. So now I’m excited to share that Pro Clerking’s 2022-23 Clerks’ Annual Planner will be available from spring 2022.

What will the planner include?

The 2022-23 Clerks’ Annual Planner aims to include everything you need as Clerks, Governance Professionals and Company Secretaries for the 2022-23 academic year, including:

  • Monthly and weekly diary pages
  • Annual compliance checklist
  • Annual and monthly task reminders
  • Policy checklist and planner
  • Hints and tips
  • Meetings Checklist
  • Attendance record
  • Suggested agenda items for the term
  • CPD opportunities and training log
  • And MORE!

*NB:  The planner is designed to be GDPR compliant and therefore not hold any confidential or personal information of Governance*

How can I get involved?

We already have a product testing group set up over on Pro Clerking’s Facebook page.  Here you will get to help guide what is included in the final product as well as get sneak peeks and special offers – you’re very welcome to join us via the link below:

Join the Clerks’ Annual Planner Product Tester Group!

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 10:  Meeting prep for the spring term


Blogmas Day 8: Clerking with Confidence Workshops

Welcome to day 8 of Blogmas!  Today I’ll be telling you all about Pro Clerking’s Clerking with Confidence (CWC) Workshops

These popular online half-termly 2 hour workshops offer an opportunity for Clerks and Company Secretaries of both maintained schools, academies and Academy Trusts to network, develop their knowledge and skills and be supported in a friendly, intimate group.  

The agenda for each session includes updates from the DfE, pertinent actions for the time of year and any bespoke needs of the group.  Each workshop is accompanied by a downloadable Workbook that contains all the information covered plus Take Action prompts and worksheets to complete at your own discretion.  Attendees will also have access to exclusive FREE resources as well as first looks and offers for upcoming products and services from Pro Clerking. 

Can’t make the live session? A recording will be made available after the workshop for anyone who signs up as well as all workshop materials.   

What’s been covered so far? 

So far for the 2021-22 academic year, we’ve covered: 

  • Autumn 1: Compliance, setting your annual business plan and what governance looks like heading into the autumn term 
  • Autumn 2:  Preparing for Ofsted (including what to put in your Ofsted ready file) and taking effective minutes 

What’s coming up? 

The Spring 1 CWC Workshop takes place on Monday 10th January from 10am-12pm via Zoom.  As well as covering the usual DfE updates and pertinent actions for the time of year this session will be focused on getting the most out of Governors’ Virtual Office , effective administration and communication with Governors.   

{Have you signed up to take part in the FREE pilot with GVO yet? Find out more here!}

Each workshop has an early bird price of just £9.99 for a limited time. The early bird offer for the Spring 1 CWC Workshop ends on Monday 13th December!  You can book your place through the Pro Clerking website or contact me at or via Facebook messenger if you would like to be invoiced. 

As a special offer I am offering the downloadable workbooks for the autumn 1 and 2 workshops at just £29.99 for both – take a sneak peek here.  Purchase this exclusive package here or contact me if you would like to be invoiced.   

Clerking with Confidence Workshop Spring 2

  • DfE updates
  • Spring 1 tasks
  • Getting the most out of Governors’ Virtual Office, effective administration and communication with Governors
  • Plus – exclusive look at the new 2022-23 Clerks’ Annual Planner product (on sale from May 2022)

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 9:  Let’s get organised {Part 2} – The Clerks’ Annual Planner – new product for 2022!