Virtual Schoolbag (VSB)
This article is to provide information regarding the changes to the Clerking Fund
Over the past year the local authority has been undertaking a review of our Governor and Clerking Service to explore the effectiveness of current provision for governors and clerks we want to ensure that the service adapts so that it continues to provide access to high quality advice, support and training for governing boards across East Sussex. The review has been undertaken within the context of the financial constraints facing the local authority and the need to consider how we operate within a more limited budget. This does mean that the local authority now needs to focus resources and provision on statutory and critical services. As a result of the review we have taken the difficult decision that the provision of a clerking fund to schools will cease from April 2019. The context and rationale for this decision are outlined below.
The current service includes the provision of a ‘clerking fund’ to schools that covers the cost of 130 hours of a professional clerk. East Sussex is the only local authority that we are aware of that provides a resource to schools to pay for their clerk. As part of the review we asked chairs of governing boards, clerks and headteachers for their views on the arrangements currently in place for clerking and on possible alternative models. There were 63 responses to the survey we sent out, and the responses indicated that:
- 95% value the clerking service they currently receive and recognise the importance of a high quality professional clerking service to the effectiveness of the governing board
- Schools overwhelmingly stated that it was very important for clerks to have regular training to up-date knowledge and skills
- The survey asked which of two new models for a clerking service respondents would prefer, either:
- Model A - where schools recruit clerks directly and pay their salary costs, the school then purchases training and support for the clerk, or
- Model B: schools purchase a clerk from the local authority who recruits and manages clerks and provides training and support to them as part of the overall cost
- The majority indicated that they would prefer model A and would like schools to retain control over the recruitment of their clerk, and purchase support, training and accreditation from the local authority.
- Of those who responded, 57% employed a clerk for 130 hours per annum; with 30% employing a clerk for over 130 hours and 1.5% for less than 130 hours. 11% did not answer this question.Schools have told us that they value professional clerks and recognise how they contribute to the effectiveness of their governing boards, that they wish to retain control over the recruitment of clerks and that they recognise the importance of regular training and support for clerks. As a local authority we remain committed to supporting governing boards to ensure that clerks are accredited and have access to further training and support and we will continue to provide access to a clerking service for schools; however the provision of a clerking fund to schools will cease from April 2019.
The Governor and Clerking Service will continue to support and develop clerking in the following ways:
- provide support and advice on all clerking matters, support with the recruitment of clerks, access to a clerking locum service, induction support and training for clerks through the governor and clerking service annual Service Level Agreement (SLA)
- develop an add on package to our annual SLA that will provide access to accreditation for new clerks.
We appreciate that the end of the clerking fund will be disappointing to schools and we wanted to give you early notice of the changes in order that you can plan your budgets accordingly from April 2019.
Senior Manager: Partnerships and Governance
Phone: 01323 463 537