The Professional Clerking Programme


Benefits of the Professional Clerking Programme

This new Professional Clerking Programme offers an integration of effective clerking with the wider activities of school business leadership. It is designed, developed, and delivered by experts and practitioners in school governance working with the Institute of School Business leadership (ISBL) and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).  The strength of this unique partnership offers up-to-date and hands-on expertise, along with the credibility and capability from the professional bodies.

ISBL and CIPFA are part of a partnership with Confederation of School Trusts (CST), which won the government contract to develop and deliver new clerking and governance programmes.

The programme recognises the broad range of organisations that clerks work in; from small standalone schools to large multi academy trusts. The overarching public-sector values are brought to bear throughout, ensuring the highest standards of professionalism.

  •  CIPFA has over 100 years of experience in designing and providing world-class leadership development to public sector organisations.

  • ISBL brings over 20 years of experience in school business, with a focus on financial performance and accountability for governing boards.


“The clerking programme will help those responsible for clerking perform their roles more effectively and efficiently. Joined up leadership across the pillars of governance, business and pedagogy is a concept that ISBL’s been promoting since 2013 and Clerks have a central role in bringing these groups together.

We are delighted to be working with CIPFA in developing and delivering this training, they bring over 100 years of experience in designing and providing world-class leadership development to public sector organisations.”

Stephen Morales, ISBL Chief Executive


Programme curriculum content

There are eight core topics delivered through module workbooks, which are both practical and informative. These are easy to access on-line units are focused on the Department for Education's (DfE) Clerking Competencies framework, designed to build the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed for effective and efficient clerking.  Each participant will start and end the programme with a self-review against the DfE Competency Framework, to highlight their personal strengths and areas for development within their own context. The resulting action plan will enable them to make best use of the material and activities in the programme according to their individual needs.


Modules include blended delivery and reflective activities, to put into practice the learning acquired. The titles of the eight modules are -

  1. Implications for clerking in the maintained and academy sector

  2. Clerking in a MAT structure

  3. Accountability to Ofsted and other external bodies; including clerking within the context of special notice (i.e. Financial Notice to Improve or Special Measures)

  4. Risk, compliance, effectiveness, and efficiency

  5. Conflicts of interest

  6. Assurance and prevention of fraud

  7. The professional clerk as an information provider

  8. Recruitment and performance management

Each module ends with a review to establish the learning that has taken place, how it will be implemented in day to day practice and the impact that it will have on the participant's board.

 In additional to the eight modules, there are some additional optional programme masterclass modules, which can be bought at an extra cost -

  1. Legal and technical framework of academies and MATs
  2. Company administration
  3. Managing Relationships


Programme includes

  • Two face-to-face workshops with an experienced facilitator to ensure participants understand how to engage with the programme

  • A focus on the development of clerking competencies

  • Professional trainers to provide guidance, knowledge, and ongoing support

  • A dedicated contact person who is available throughout the whole programme

  • A diagnostic self-review undertaken at the start and end of the programme - to evaluate strengths and development needs, and assess the learning journey

  • Access to newly written, interactive clerking and governance e-learning modules and resources

  • Participation in peer-to-peer and group learning to strengthen and enable networking

  • Reflective activities and projects to ensure that learning is embedded and has impact in the participants role

  • Accessible workbooks and learning journal so that learning can be recorded and revisited, in personalised programme records


Personalised action plan

Participants will undertake a self-review which is designed to explore the expectations of the DfE Clerking Competency Framework. This can be shared with the Head and Chair of the Board.

Based on review and feedback, participants will then develop an action plan for improving the effectiveness of their work. Upon programme completion, a further self-review will be undertaken to assess what they have achieved on the programme and validate the learning achieved. It will asses if there are any further areas of learning required, and if the masterclass modules will be useful.


Time commitment

The is expected to take one year. Each workbook is designed to take approximately 2-3 hours, including time for reflective activities and an end of module learning review.

There are additional masterclasses


Focus on ethical leadership

We have a commitment to ensuring that the drive to ensure better outcomes for the pupils and students that governing boards serve, is at the heart of this programme.


Focus on supporting professional governance

The programme content is directly aligned to the DfE Clerking Competency Framework, to enable participants to maximise the potential impact that they can have in supporting and developing effective governance. This will help clerks to prepare for the future and enable them to contribute to developing governance in their own work, and others too.


Up to date and evolving content

The programme modules are underpinned by current legislation and guidance. They are relevant for all clerks in the evolving school system within all phases and structures; maintained schools and single and multiple academy trusts.  The content highlights the differences between requirements and the implications for clerks, which will enable them to prepare for any changes in the status of the boards they support. ISBL and CIPFA will regularly update the content to ensure it is current.


Flexible learning approach

We understand that clerks may be working for more than one educational organisation or undertake clerking as part of a wider role and may have other commitments on their time. We have therefore designed the learning taking place through eight core modules, which will be delivered through workbooks. This will allow participants flexibility in how they manage their time as they progress through the programme.


Focus on joined-up leadership

The programme focuses on ensuring that the goals of the organisation are realised by boards and executive leaders working together, with the guidance and knowledge of a professional clerk.


Access to our national and local networks

Participants gain access to the networks via the face-to-face sessions and our national online learning networks, allowing them to discuss best practice and share resources with other clerks.


Bespoke programme

By starting with a self-assessment and creating a tailored action plan, we ensure that the programme curriculum is meeting participants’ needs. The bespoke support we offer in addition to the core modules and masterclasses is designed to ensure that they can effectively deliver their action plan.


Personal development

Participants will develop many transferable skills, which can be used in clerking roles in all kinds of settings. This includes; risk, compliance, effectiveness, and efficiency, accountability, assurance and prevention of fraud and the professional clerk as an information provider



The programme cost is just £75. This is because the DfE is providing funding worth £350 per person, which can be used against the full cost of the programme, which costs £425.

*Please contact ISBL for more details, full terms and conditions and the funding criteria.


This programme is no longer open to new applicants. We still will be supporting existing candidates