Research on Clerking and Governance

National Governance Association- research on clerking-June 2021

Key findings:

  • Governance professionals are undervalued because their critical and valuable role is not well understood by the entire sector.
  • Governance professionals require a career framework linked to clear expectations and relevant qualifications.
  • Governing boards have been slow to implement the Clerking Matters expectations. As well as undermining the profession, this also has a detrimental effect on advancing pay to appropriate levels.
  • Governing boards, governance professionals and the wider sector must renew their commitment to implementing the Clerking Matters expectations as part of a collective response to giving the
  • profession the status, recognition, support, challenge and reward it both needs and deserves.


National Foundation for Education Research report on Governance for the Department of Education-October 2020; Full report

Key findings:

  • The majority of boards had vacancies and were struggling to recruit governors and trustees. However, most governing boards were relying on word-of-mouth recruitment from their local and personal networks.
  • There was a mismatch between the skills the governors/trustees felt their governing board had and those which the executive leaders felt they had, particularly in relation to knowledge and understanding of the education sector. There was also a mismatch in the (lack of) confidence individuals had in their own finance skills and their confidence in their boards’ skills in this area.
  • Clerks, when utilised properly, were seen as key to the effective running of governing boards, but not all bodies were making the most of the resource clerks can offer. Importantly, the support of an effective professional clerk was seen to help with the retention of governors/trustees.
  • Within trusts there is a lack of separation between the different levels of governance, due to individuals taking on multiple roles across different levels.
  • Effective monitoring and evaluation of the trust board, with the input from independent external sources, may help to ensure boards do not become too insular and are independently challenged.
  • The complexity of MAT governance presents a unique challenge in ensuring clarity in the roles and responsibilities of the different tiers of governance. The research found that there was confusion between the different tiers of governance as to where responsibility for certain areas of decision making were held.
  • Maintained school governing bodies appear to feel less confident in their strategic oversight role than trust boards and were also less likely to have received most forms of training, support and guidance compared to trustees.