Essex Clerks' Logo
supporting clerks supporting governors

FAQs: Advice and legislation

Q. My governors are confused about the different types of governor and how they should review their constitution?

Download a copy of the DfE’s “Constitution of Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools_2017

Q. HELP! I’ve been asked to clerk a staff disciplinary meeting – what do I do?”

First of all – don’t panic! ECA has produced a useful guidance paper about clerking staff disciplinaries, which covers what the Governing Body should have in place (polices and committees), what you need to do before the meeting, the hearing itself, and what the Clerk’s role is before, during and after. You will also receive excellent support and advice from the Essex Human Resources team (or the school’s equivalent HR provider) and Governor Services.

Q.I am a new Clerk.  What should I see is my most important document?”

You definitely need to get yourself a copy of the DfE’s Governance Handbook and the Clerk’s Competency Framework.  There is so much information online that it is probably hard for you to know where to start.  First of all, don’t forget that the ECA is here to help and you just need to ask.  You might find that your school has a subscription to one of the useful subscription sites such as the National Governance Association or The Key – if so, ask if you can have their log-in details.  It is also really useful to follow the NGA, the DfE, some of the many clerking feeds etc on Twitter – then you will get to hear the most up to date information.  And don’t forget to attend a termly briefing –   either with the Clerking Agency or with us at the ECA.

Q. My governors are considering publishing their school policies on the website for ease of access. However, they are unsure whether all school policies can be published or should some be password protected?”

Policies are not in themselves confidential so there is no reason why they cannot be made public in the way your governing body suggests and it is up to individual schools to decide how they make policies available. The Freedom of Information Act advises that all public documents should be published on an organisation’s website for ease of access and transparency.

If you purchase policies from a provider (i.e. if you subscribe to Essex Human Resources and they provide you with model HR policies as part of your subscription) there may be copyright on these policies, so it would be unwise to publish these in a way that the public at large can see them and therefore could breach any copyright. For that reason it may be best to keep these policies “password protected” so that only governors and staff can see them, although they should be made available if a member of the public requests a copy. This may be why some schools only publish a limited number of policies.

Q. One of our Co-opted Governors has comes to the end of his term of office this month but he is happy to stay on the governing body – do I need to do anything else other than just let Governor Services know?”

This appointment must be agreed by the FULL Governing Body, so you need to wait for your next meeting, unless it was agreed at the last one that this person would continue seamlessly and they were formally re-appointed. If the latter, you can inform Governor Services and let the governors know; don’t forget to ask them to do a new declaration or DBS check depending on your GB’s policy.

Q. Please could you advise if it is the Clerk’s responsibility to prepare the Governor’s Handbook or should this be undertaken by the governing body as a whole?”

It is not part of the Clerk’s responsibility to prepare/amend/update the Governors’ Handbook. It is up to the Governing Body if they wish to make a separate financial arrangement with the Clerk to take it on. Otherwise it can be delegated to a sub-group to prepare or one Governor might volunteer to draft it for consideration by the governing body.

Q. Is it the Clerk’s responsibility to audit and keep the school’s website up to date?  As well as updating EduBase of governors’ appointments, resignations etc?”

Unless there is a specific and separate agreement with the school and the Clerk, it is not his/her responsibility to maintain the website or EduBase.  It is good practice for the Clerk to agenda a regular item on the GB’s agenda to ensure that whichever governor is responsible for auditing the website presents a report on the latest audit.

Q. What is the timescale for holding parent elections for a vacancy on the Governing Body and is it anything to do with me as the clerk?”

There is no timescale for holding elections once a vacancy occurs. Ideally the position should be filled as quickly as possible. Where a vacancy occurs towards the end of the summer term it is advisable to defer the election until the autumn term. Then all parents (including new ones) who are eligible to take part can do so.

Want to ask a question?

Please contact our Communications Officer, Angela Fuller,

We will reply as soon as possible and, if we think that this is a question that everyone might like to know the answer, we will publish it on our website for  all to share.

Do you disagree with an answer? Then tell us and we will update our reply if we agree.

©2017 Essex Clerks. All rights reserved. Responsive Design