‘Effective school governance is more than minuting meetings,’ says ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute

London, 9 October 2020 – The Department for Education’s recognition of academy trust clerks as the board’s ‘governance professional’ is a start in terms of acknowledging the importance of the role, according to ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute. Recognising the broader responsibilities as “…about helping the board understand its role, functions and legal duties and supporting the chair to enable and facilitate strategic debate and decision making” in the DfE’s revised Governance Handbook, the Institute believes that this continued emphasis shows the important advisory and support role that governance professionals play in helping academy boards to achieve success.

Speaking about the guidance, Louise Thomson, Head of Policy (Not-for-Profit) at the Institute says:

“The continued emphasis on the critical role a governance professional can play in enabling an academy trust to deliver for their pupils and communities is welcome and underscores the advantages of having expert governance advice on hand to support the board. Governance professionals are strategic in their outlook and pragmatic in their approach to enabling organisations to achieve their aims. Far from being the person who ‘just’ organises and services the trustee meetings, the governance professional is recognised as ‘being crucial to the effective functioning of the board’ assisting the board to fulfil their roles and responsibilities. It is our belief that a change in the name (away from ‘clerk’) would further enhance the standing and understanding of the governance adviser role in the sector.

“Recognition that particular skills and independence are required to fulfil the role is clear from the fact that headteachers cannot act as a clerk and trustees can only stand in for a clerk on an infrequent basis. We have encouraged the professionalisation of the role for a long time, accrediting the only clerking qualification currently available with the NGA, and supporting the progression route for those clerks to our Level 4 academy governance qualification, which allows clerks to go a step further in their career as a governance professional. As the professional body for governance, we are uniquely able to support the development of new career pathways and provide recognition for governance professionals in academy trusts at all levels (clerk, governance officer/manager, head of governance, trust secretary/governance director). We have produced a number of resources, such as a model job description for governance professionals – referenced in the guide – and guidance for the sector as we believe strongly that good governance is crucial to the success of the sector.”

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For further information, please contact Maria Brookes, Media Relations Manager:

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Notes to Editors:

  1. The Chartered Governance Institute is the qualifying and membership body for governance with over 125 years’ experience of educating and supporting governance professionals. With a Royal Charter purpose of leading ‘effective and efficient governance and administration of commerce, industry and public affairs’, we provide professional development, guidance and thought leadership, and work with regulators and policy makers to champion high standards.

    The Institute has divisions in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong/China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Southern Africa, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. The division headquartered in London (known as ICSA: The Chartered Governance Institute) represents and supports members in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Crown Dependencies and associated territories, which include the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. Website: www.icsa.org.uk 

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