There is no question that governance has evolved over the last two decades with the current ever-changing education landscape. Whether a school remains a maintained school, academy, multi academy trust or other type of educational establishment, there has been a greater emphasis on the skills and competency of the governance professional. The role of the governance professional has historically been referred to as the Clerk of Governors. In many organisations this role has been assumed by the Business Manager as many organisations do not have the funds to source external professionals.
With academies conversions on the rise and the accountability being under further scrutiny the DfE issued a trio of documents linked to governance; January 2017 saw the introduction of the Competency Framework for Governance and the Governance Handbook followed by the Clerking Competency Framework in April 2017. This new guidance demonstrates how the role now differs from the previous school clerk role and the importance of having a professional with the right skills and knowledge to ensure compliance.
In many organisations, the role of the professional has been acknowledged with a professional being employed and assuming this role alongside the Company Secretary role, however some schools under financial pressures ‘tag’ this work on to the role of the School Business Manager or it sits under their remit.
The governance professional is crucial in triangulating with the senior leadership team and Trustees/ Governors to ensure the smooth running of the organisation.
In recognition of this developing role, there are several organisations who run professional clerking programmes, one being ISBL. As the role of governance often sits under the role of the School Business Leader it is important that we get it right as the implications of getting it wrong could be catastrophic!
Within my own organisation we recognised early on the importance of this role and started working with The Constant Group, who provide governance advisory services to academy trusts, on good governance and developing the role of the governance professional. We enrolled two members of staff on the ISBL Clerking Programme and also The Constant Group’s Academy Governance Insight Group which is designed to equip professionals with skills, sector knowledge and a peer network to use when enhancing their trust’s governance delivery. By then, having two trained governance professionals we can support neighbouring schools and Trusts in getting it right.