Monday, 5 September 2011

Process of recruiting a Clerk to a Governing Body

Governing bodies often approach the recruitment of a clerk with the expectation that it will be difficult.  Sometimes the vacancy has occurred at short notice and they are so keen to fill it that they rush the process.  Taking the time to follow a proper recruitment and selection process will take some time, but should result in a successful appointment.  Recruiting a good clerk will enable the governing body to concentrate on its responsibilities; recruiting someone ill equipped for the role may have a detrimental effect on the governing body's effectiveness and is highly likely to fail.  

The clerk to the governing body is employed by, and answerable to, the governing body.  Although the recruitment and selection process will be carried out by a small panel, the appointment cannot be delegated and can only be confirmed following agreement at a full governing body meeting.

Stage 1:   Setting up an appointment panel 

The governing body should appoint a small panel to undertake the recruitment and selection process.  This will usually include the chair and the head/principal.  This panel should be responsible for all the remaining stages of the recruitment process.



Stage 2:  Agreeing the job description and person specification

A model job description and person specification is included in Annex 1.  Clerks should be paid the correct pay grade on the Local Government scale, pro rata based on an agreed amount of annualised hours.  This level of salary reflects the range and importance of the responsibilities of the post. In line with other school employees working during term time an element of holiday pay will be factored into the salary.

An assessment will need to be made of a reasonable time allocation for all required tasks and a table is given later in this section to assist with this process.  A notional 10 hrs has been the guide time allocation for a full governing body meeting, but this may not be accurate, particularly if documents are sent out by email. 

Some questions to consider are:   
·        Should the clerk be responsible for clerking both full governing body and committees?

This Toolkit assumes that the clerk is responsible for clerking both full governing body and all committee meetings.  This is the most desirable option, as it ensures a consistent, joined up approach and provides professional clerking across all the work of a governing body.  Governing bodies sometimes feel that the cost of employing a clerk for all committees is too high and decide that governors can clerk committees.  As this can result in inconsistencies in quality and style across committees, it is to be avoided if at all possible.  Additionally, most governors find it difficult to participate in a meeting as well as to take notes.         

·        Should the post be school based or not?

Some clerks combine the role with a school-based post, but others do not.  It can be felt to be advantageous to have someone as clerk who works at the school in another role: they are readily accessible and can use the school's facilities.  However, school-based staff who have a full time role alongside being clerk increasingly find both roles too great a workload.  In these circumstances, the governing body should consider opening up the post to non school-based individuals.  This will widen the potential pool of applicants. 

Another solution is to share the work between more than one person: one person clerking full governing body meetings while another/others clerk committees.  This arrangement is a practical solution, but it is essential that all those involved in clerking meetings of a governing body follow common practice and have good communication.

Where individuals have more than one job, separate contracts must be set up for each post.     

·        How many hours should be allocated to the post? 
The job description does not include the number of hours that the post requires as each governing body's pattern of meetings and consequently the amount of time needed to carry out the clerk's job will vary.  For example, one governing body may have four full governing body and nine committee meetings a year and all papers are circulated electronically.  Another governing body may have six full governors meetings and twelve committee meetings and all documents are sent out in hard copy.  The number of hours needed to carry out the clerk's job will need to be assessed.  It is suggested that at the time of advertisement, an assessment is carried out based on the planned meeting pattern, adding on time for dealing with governor appointments, correspondence, training and any other duties. 
The table given below should be used to make an assessment of the number of hours that will be  allocated to the post.  This table will need to be customised, for example to reflect whether papers are distributed electronically or in hard copy.  

Time to carry out task

Full GB meetings
Committee meetings
Prepare draft agenda

Liaise with head and chair about content of agenda

Prepare agreed agenda

Chase reports/papers from committees

Photocopy all papers

Send out agenda and supporting documents

Organise the room

Organise refreshments

Tidy room after meeting

Take notes at the meeting

Type up draft minutes

Circulate draft minutes to chair and head

Photocopy minutes and any supporting papers

Send out minutes and any papers

Follow up any action points

A hrs
B hrs

The total time for clerking meetings will be (A x no of full GB meetings) + (B x no of cttee meetings)

To this should be added
·        time for dealing with governor appointments and elections
·        time for any other duties
·        time for training   

The total becomes the "core" number of contracted hours and the job description can be completed.  When a clerk is in post, they will be able to claim payment, on a pro rata basis, for any additional time worked through a monthly claim.
The person specification reflects the level of the post and it is not advised that it should be altered.   

  Stage 3:   Agreeing the recruitment and selection process 

The appointment panel should plan the timetable for the various stages in the process.  This must include ensuring that there will be a full governing body meeting soon after the interview date to consider any recommendation for an appointment. 
They will also finalise the job pack and agree in outline what selection process will be. 

Stage 4:   Advertising the vacancy
The vacancy should be advertised appropriately.  This will usually be through the Torbay Council external vacancies system and will appear on the Choice website and in the Choice magazine.  It is often a good idea to also advertise on the school notice board, in the school newsletter, on the school's website or the local newspaper.  In line with the requirements of Safer Recruitment, all applications must be made on standard application forms.  CVs should not be considered. 

Stage 5:   Shortlisting

Once the closing date has passed, the panel will meet to consider applications.  When shortlisting, panel members must use the essential criteria in person specification (on the basis that if the criteria are "essential" then candidates must meet them).  Only if there are too many people who meet the essential criteria should the desirable criteria be used. 
If none of the candidates meet all the essential criteria it is up to the panel to decide whether to interview the candidates who meet most of the criteria, and deal with any gaps through training/induction.  In coming to a decision, the panel should take into account the potential consequences of appointing someone without all the skills and experience.  Alternatively, the panel may wish to re-advertise.

Stage 6:   Interviewing

The panel will need to decide what selection process to follow.  It is advised that the process includes an interview as well as a practical task relevant to the clerk's responsibilities.  This could be a word processing task, an in tray exercise or something similar.  Governors should take advice from school staff on the selection processes that have been used in recruiting and selecting other clerical and administrative staff. 

As the post is subject to an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau child protection check, it is advised that all candidates called for interview are asked to bring the necessary documents with them.  These can be held by the school's administrator who will only process the successful candidate's check, destroying all the other candidate's forms.

Stage 7:   Making an appointment

If the panel decide that a candidate should be appointed, they can inform the individual verbally but must make it clear that the appointment is subject to the governing body's agreement.  The panel's recommendation must be taken to the next full governing body meeting for consideration and agreement.    

Once the appointment has been agreed, the normal processes for setting up a new employee will be followed.  The school administrator completes the online Single Starter Form (available on the HR intranet site), ensures that the clerk undertakes an enhanced CRB disclosure and issues an appointment letter for the new clerk to complete and return. 

The new clerk signs the letter of appointment,  to notify the change of clerk and sends it to the Local Authority.

Clerks will be paid a monthly pro rata salary based on an agreed annual time allocation (annualised hours). 

As governing body responsibilities and organisational structures are subject to change, the arrangements for clerking should be reviewed at least annually.  This should include a review of the hours allocated to clerking and adjustment where necessary. 

Stage 8:   Induction, line management, training and development

A new appointment is far more likely to be successful if the individual is given a proper induction into their new role.  

The clerk is accountable to the chair, on behalf of the governing body.  This means that the chair must make sure that all the processes of good employment practice are followed, starting with induction.  When a new clerk is appointed, the governing body is often hugely relieved and the focus can be on getting the paperwork ready for the next meeting.  However, few individuals appointed as clerks have worked in the role before, so the chair must ensure that the new clerk is given time to go through an induction process and become familiar with the new job.  Training for new clerks is available from Governing Body Support and clerks should be encouraged to book a course as soon as possible after appointment.  During the induction period, the chair should meet the clerk regularly to talk about how they are settling in and whether there are any problems.  They should not be left in isolation.  This should be in addition to meeting regularly to plan the work.  The clerk should be involved in all personnel processes applied to other support staff at the school/college, including performance management. 

Clerks should be required to attend training and development opportunities throughout their time in post.  This will help them to keep up to date with legislative and other changes which they will bring to the attention of the governing body.  They will also be able to develop their skills and knowledge.  It can sometimes be difficult for staff working in other posts at the school to attend training but chairs should ensure that their post can be covered when necessary.   

Stage 9:   Resignation

When a clerk resigns, they  should send a letter of resignation to the chair of governors clearly stating the date of resignation. 

1 comment:

  1. In saying in relation to the appointment of the clerk "This responsibility cannot be delegated" and “the appointment is subject to the governing body's agreement”, this posting accurately restates what is said in the Department’s statutory guidance and Guide to the Law. This is incorrect, however. The Department has confirmed to me that the guidance and GTTL are in error. There is no statutory restriction on the appointment being delegated. In consequence, the recruitment procedure does not need to incorporate the complication of having to fit in ratification by the full governing body. The relevant extract from a letter to me dated 22 December 2010 from Sandra Hutchinson of the DfE’s School Governance Unit reads:

    “With regard to the matter of the appointment of the clerk, I confirm that paragraph 3.8.2 of the Department's Statutory Guidance on the School Governance (Procedures) (England) Regulations 2003 and chapter 3, paragraph 76 of the Governors Guide to the Law both incorrectly state that the governing body cannot delegate any function relating to the appointment of the clerk. We will of course take steps to make the necessary amendments.”