Blogmas Day 11: Spotlight on GIAS

Welcome to day 11 of Blogmas! Today’s post is a spotlight on Get Information About Schools aka GIAS.

GIAS is an online DfE register of schools and colleges in England. You can search for and download information on establishments, establishment groups (such as a local authority, trust or federation) or governors.

It is a statutory requirement for schools to keep their GIAS records up to date. Schools can sign in to GIAS using their DfE Sign-in account. This login may be held by the Head or school administrator, or certain access rights can be given to Clerks to allow them to update the Governance area of GIAS.

Things to consider:

  • Your setting’s record should be kept up to date as information changes. It is good practice for updates to be made within 14 days of a change
  • Records need to be regularly confirmed as up to date even if no changes have been made. This needs to be done every 60 days {worth noting in your calendar!}
  • GIAS issues two warning emails if a Governance role term of office is coming to its expiration date; 180 days before the term of office expiry date and on the day the term of office expires
  • For new Governors you will need their full name, email address, who appointed them, home postcode and start and end date of their term of office in order to add them to GIAS. You will be asked for information on their date of birth, previous names etc. but these are not required to save a record
  • You do not need to include information on Associate Members on GIAS

Coming up 

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox. 

Day 12:  Top tips for Company Secretaries


Blogmas Day 10: Meeting Prep for the Spring Term

Welcome to day 10 of Blogmas!  We’re now over halfway through the 2021 Blogmas series so I thought today we’d look ahead and start forward planning for the spring term.

Suggested standing items:

  • Welcome, apologies, declarations of interest
  • Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising
  • Headteacher/CEO report – to include attendance, staffing, school development plan (or equivalent) – review of progress to date, Covid update, GDPR etc.
  • Safeguarding and vulnerable groups
  • Governor monitoring visits and reports
  • Policies (as per policy review schedule)
  • AOB
  • Date of next meeting

Key areas to consider for the spring term – dependent upon your setting’s annual schedule of business:

  • HT mid-term performance management
  • Census data
  • School Financial Values Standard (SFVS) (maintained) 
  • S175 Safeguarding Audit 
  • If consultation has taken place on any proposed changes to the Admissions Policy, consider any feedback received and agree final admissions policy 
  • Publish the admission appeals timetable for 2022-23 on the school website  
  • Receive a finance report from the school business manager and ensure challenge is recorded 
  • Review and agree the salaries of teaching and support staff  

Coming up 

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox. 

Day 12:  Spotlight on GIAS


Blogmas Day 9: The Clerks’ Annual Planner – New Product for 2022!

Welcome to day 9 of Blogmas!  I hope you’re finding the posts useful so far – we’ve covered a lot of information, most of which I hope you’ve taken snippets from then tucked away to refer to at a later date.  Believe me when I say I know all about feeling overwhelmed with information, which is partly why I designed and produced the 2022 Life Planner over at my other passion project – Business Health & Home.

The 2022 Life Planner is all about trying to capture all those day to day, week to week and month to month tasks, reminders and logs which naturally swim around our busy lives in a meaningful, easy to navigate and stylish planner.  But the concept for the Life Planner actually started with an idea to design and produce a planner for Clerks

As usual with my brain, these ideas take a while to form and float about a bit before I take action and although I’ve had this idea for a number of years the timing hasn’t quite been right so I decided to sit on it and wait until I had the mental and physical capacity to take action really make this product something special. So now I’m excited to share that Pro Clerking’s 2022-23 Clerks’ Annual Planner will be available from spring 2022.

What will the planner include?

The 2022-23 Clerks’ Annual Planner aims to include everything you need as Clerks, Governance Professionals and Company Secretaries for the 2022-23 academic year, including:

  • Monthly and weekly diary pages
  • Annual compliance checklist
  • Annual and monthly task reminders
  • Policy checklist and planner
  • Hints and tips
  • Meetings Checklist
  • Attendance record
  • Suggested agenda items for the term
  • CPD opportunities and training log
  • And MORE!

*NB:  The planner is designed to be GDPR compliant and therefore not hold any confidential or personal information of Governance*

How can I get involved?

We already have a product testing group set up over on Pro Clerking’s Facebook page.  Here you will get to help guide what is included in the final product as well as get sneak peeks and special offers – you’re very welcome to join us via the link below:

Join the Clerks’ Annual Planner Product Tester Group!

Coming up 

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox. 

Day 10:  Meeting prep for the spring term


Blogmas Day 8: Clerking with Confidence Workshops

Welcome to day 8 of Blogmas!  Today I’ll be telling you all about Pro Clerking’s Clerking with Confidence (CWC) Workshops

These popular online half-termly 2 hour workshops offer an opportunity for Clerks and Company Secretaries of both maintained schools, academies and Academy Trusts to network, develop their knowledge and skills and be supported in a friendly, intimate group.  

The agenda for each session includes updates from the DfE, pertinent actions for the time of year and any bespoke needs of the group.  Each workshop is accompanied by a downloadable Workbook that contains all the information covered plus Take Action prompts and worksheets to complete at your own discretion.  Attendees will also have access to exclusive FREE resources as well as first looks and offers for upcoming products and services from Pro Clerking. 

Can’t make the live session? A recording will be made available after the workshop for anyone who signs up as well as all workshop materials.   

What’s been covered so far? 

So far for the 2021-22 academic year, we’ve covered: 

  • Autumn 1: Compliance, setting your annual business plan and what governance looks like heading into the autumn term 
  • Autumn 2:  Preparing for Ofsted (including what to put in your Ofsted ready file) and taking effective minutes 

What’s coming up? 

The Spring 1 CWC Workshop takes place on Monday 10th January from 10am-12pm via Zoom.  As well as covering the usual DfE updates and pertinent actions for the time of year this session will be focused on getting the most out of Governors’ Virtual Office , effective administration and communication with Governors.   

{Have you signed up to take part in the FREE pilot with GVO yet? Find out more here!}

Each workshop has an early bird price of just £9.99 for a limited time. The early bird offer for the Spring 1 CWC Workshop ends on Monday 13th December!  You can book your place through the Pro Clerking website or contact me at or via Facebook messenger if you would like to be invoiced. 

As a special offer I am offering the downloadable workbooks for the autumn 1 and 2 workshops at just £29.99 for both – take a sneak peek here.  Purchase this exclusive package here or contact me if you would like to be invoiced.   

Clerking with Confidence Workshop Spring 2

  • DfE updates
  • Spring 1 tasks
  • Getting the most out of Governors’ Virtual Office, effective administration and communication with Governors
  • Plus – exclusive look at the new 2022-23 Clerks’ Annual Planner product (on sale from May 2022)

Coming up 

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox. 

Day 9:  Let’s get organised {Part 2} – The Clerks’ Annual Planner – new product for 2022! 


Blogmas Day 7: Let’s Get Organised: The Power Hour

Welcome to day 7 of Blogmas!  Today’s topic is all about organisation and the use of the power hour to get sh*t done

We all have those tasks we’d rather keep putting off until the last moment, even though it inevitably causes us undue stress and sits at the back of our mind as a constant reminder of what we haven’t got done.  Sometimes it’s because we feel overwhelmed or unsure, sometimes it’s because we haven’t been given the right tools to undertake the task and sometimes it’s simply because it’s something we just don’t like doing (hello policies!)  Procrastination sneaks in and suddenly time has run away from you and it’s time for the school run/to make dinner/go to bed.  We’ve all been there. 

So, with a to-do list as long as Santa’s naughty and nice register where on earth do you start?  There are a few things I’ve learnt throughout my career about getting sh*t done: 1) tasks nearly always take longer than expected 2) the majority of tasks I put off are actually not nearly as bad as I thought they would be and 3) in order to get any meaningful work done I need to dedicate focus time into my working day.  Welcome to the power hour. 

“If you don’t know where to start, start with just one hour a day” 

{Adrienne Herbert, Power Hour} 

So what exactly is a power hour? 

The power hour is a very simple concept that has a big impact.  The Power Hour is simply dedicated time to tackle tasks you keep putting off, for long enough to make progress but not so long you resent it or find a reason to not do it at all. 

How does it work? 

1) Write a list of the tasks you’re not quite getting round to and what you need in order to complete those tasks 
2) Put aside an hour each day / week and mark it in your diary as your power hour 
3) When the power hour comes round, take something from your list and work on it 

Why does it work? 

Firstly, you’ve not only identified those tasks you have been putting off, but you have also dedicated time in your diary to work on them meaning they no longer sit at the back of your head niggling you to get them done.  You know what they are, and you know when they’re going to get done.  The principle behind the power hour is that you stop when the hour is up, regardless of whether you’ve finished your task or not.  But what you may find is that once you get going on something you want to carry on, which is your prerogative.   

What tasks have you been putting off? 

Those final sets of minutes for 2021?  Updating your governance files?  Updating your policy review schedule?  All of the above?!  I always like to feel like I’ve wrapped things up in time for Christmas {excuse the pun} and using this technique has really helped me to focus and it’s really surprising what you can actually get done in an hour! 

Coming up 

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox. 

Day 8:  Clerking with Confidence Workshops   


Blogmas Day 6: Top Tips for Policy Management

Welcome to day 6 of Blogmas!  Effective policy management is essential in all schools and academies.  The DfE dictate a variety of statutory policies and guidance documents which are to be held by the school {or proprietors of Academy Trusts}. Today I’ll be sharing some top tips for effective policy management.

  1. To ensure compliance individual, as well as group, accountability is paramount. Therefore, a focused approach to policy management that enables the Governing Body to maintain strategic oversight and implementation of policies is needed. 
  1. Not all policies need to be approved by the Governing Body. The Governing Body can delegate non-statutory policies to the Head and decide to review and approve only statutory or other non-statutory policies deemed most important at full Governing Body or Committee meetings.  
  1. The school must have a policy review system in place which allows tracking which policies are due for review and need attention, where there is new information they must understand, or when policies must be updated in line with new or existing statutory guidance.   
  1. Communicating which policies are in place and when they have been reviewed and/or updated with stakeholders {i.e. members of staff, parents etc.} is key. 
  1. Local context should be taken into consideration when writing policies. 
  1. The Clerk can support the Governing Body by having knowledge of what policies are required, keeping up to date with current guidance and by ensuring a robust policy review process is in place. 

The good news is that GVO can help you with all of the above, saving time and stress! Not only can you upload Polices into GVO for review and approval, but you can also link Polices directly to the school, college or MAT website, ensuring there is only ever one version of a Policy.

Governors can Approve a draft Policy with the click of a button, or add a comment with any feedback or suggested changes. Once a Policy is finalised comments and approvals are ‘locked’ maintaining an excellent record of evidence.

Policies are flagged when they are due for renewal, automatically alertying the owner than action needs to be taken. The Policy Reporting tool provides an excellent view of policy categories, status and due date.

Find out more here: POLICY MANAGEMENT

You can find out more about policy management, including how to create a workable policy review schedule, in Pro Clerking’s Introduction to Policy Management Workshop. Email me at to find out about up coming dates.

Coming up

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox.

Day 5:  Let’s get organised {part 1} – The Power Hour  

Ellie and Becky

Blogmas Day 5: Spotlight on Associate Members

Welcome to day 5 of Blogmas!  Today’s post is all about about Associate Member regulations for maintained schools including why Governing Bodies may want to appoint them and how they differ from full Governors.  Academies should check their Articles of Association to check the specific wording around the appointment of Associate Members (which shouldn’t be confused with “Members” which sit “above” Trustees in terms of Governance for a Charitable Trust – More information to come on the Governance structure of academies and academy trusts coming to a later post). 

 What are Associate Members?

Associate Members are not Governors but can be invited to sit on the Governing Body. They are usually appointed by the Governing Body to serve on one or more Governing Body Committee but may also attend full Governing Body meetings.

What Benefit can they Bring to a Governing Body?

Associate members should be appointed because of the specific expertise and experience they can contribute to the effective governance and success of the school. This can help to address specific gaps identified in the skills of Governing Body members, and/or help respond to particular challenges that they may be facing.

Do Associate Members have Voting Rights?

Associate Members are not Governors and therefore do not have voting rights in full Governing Body meeting decisions; however, they may be given a vote on decisions made by committees to which they are appointed.

How is their Term of Office Set?

Associate members are appointed for a period of between one and four years, as determined by the Governing body and may be reappointed.

How and Where are Associate Members Recorded?

Associate Members should be included in your Register of Governors, Register of Interests and Single Central Record. They must be published on your school’s Governance webpage, making it clear of their position and whether they have voting rights on any of the committees to which they have been appointed. Associate Members do not need to be published on GIAS (as per all other full Governors).

Coming up

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox.

Day 5:  Top tips for policy management


Blogmas Day 4: Effective Communication with Governors

Welcome to day 4 of Blogmas! Today’s post is brought to you by Becky from Governors’ Virtual Office (GVO).  If you haven’t already heard – Pro Clerking has teamed up with GVO to provide even more support for Clerks, Governance Professionals and Company Secretaries by way of a collaborative, secure online library of resources, templates, workflows and networking opportunities.  The Pro Clerking GVO platform will help ensure Clerks stay fully informed, equipped and empowered and share good practice nationwide.  Find out more – including how to get involved in the FREE pilothere!

Effective communication is key to good Governance; however, it can be a tricky to strike the right balance!

Too much information and your risk ‘overload’, not enough and you risk a lack of engagement.  What works for one Governor might not work for another…… so how can you please most of the people, most of the time!

Having documents, files and meeting packs stored in a well-organised way will help your Governors to help themselves – finding what they need, when they need it.

Develop a protocol for working.  Do I need to ‘Share’ now?   What should I ‘Subscribe Others’ to, making sure they stay informed and up to date with comments?   GVO has options to suit all scenarios and preferences, from the once a week personalised newsletter to live notifications when new comments are added.

Commenting at a document level provides an excellent record of evidence, demonstrating your Governors’ strategic challenge, support, approval, questioning and holding leaders to account – everyone can stay informed of discussions and conversations taking place.

GVO is not reliant on school, college or MAT email addresses, meaning that Governors and Trustees can use an email address of their choice.  Using an email address that is easy to access will increase engagement and ensure that nothing is missed!

GVO Top Tip – If it is the Clerk is adding papers to the GVO, make sure you use the ‘Subscribe Others’ function to make sure that the ‘owner’ of the document is alerted when a new question or comment is added!


Governors’ Virtual Office

Coming up

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox.

Day 5:  Spotlight on Associate Members


Blogmas Day 3: Minute Typing Buzz Words

Welcome to day 3 of Blogmas! Today I’ll be sharing some minute typing buzz words. I keep a list of these printed out on my office notice board as a visual prompt when typing up minutes. I hope you find them helpful too!

Minute Typing Buzz Words 

  • Discussed​
  • Debated​ 
  • Deliberated​ 
  • Considered​ 
  • Examined​ 
  • Analysed​ 
  • Pointed out​ 
  • Explained​ 
  • Suggested​ 
  • Drew attention​ 
  • Raised​ 
  • Informed​ 
  • Were reminded that​ 
  • Recalled​ 
  • Benefits of​ 
  • Advantages of​ 
  • Value of 
  • Understood​ 
  • Clarified​ 
  • Illustrated​ 
  • Defined​ 
  • Demonstrated​ 
  • Emphasised​ 
  • Indicated​ 
  • Agreed​ 
  • Disagreed​ 
  • Disputed​ 
  • Planned​ 
  • Intended​ 
  • Hoped​ 
  • Proposed​ 
  • Existence of​ 
  • Issue of​ 
  • Reality of​ 
  • Question of   
  • Drawbacks​ 
  • Disadvantages​ 
  • Uncertainty​ 
  • Chose​ 
  • Opted​ 
  • Selected​ 
  • Preferred​ 
  • States​ 
  • Reported​
  • Established​ 
  • Confirmed​ 
  • Verified​ 
  • Declared​
  • Potential​ 
  • Prospect​ 
  • Probability​ 
  • Options 
  • Alternatives​ 
  • Preference​ 
  • Decided​ 
  • Resolved​ 
  • Approved​ 
  • Concluded​ 
  • Determined​ 
  • Concerned​ 
  • Apprehensive ​ 
  • Relayed​ 
  • Updated​ 
  • Recommended​ 
  • Advised​ 
  • Alerted​ 
  • Guided​ 
  • Requested​ 
  • Summarised ​ 
  • Invited     

Download a PDF of these buzz words here.

Coming up

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Day 4:  Effective communication with Governors


Blogmas Day 2: The Head, Chair and Clerk Working Relationship

An effective Governing Body needs clear leadership and direction, therefore a good working relationship between the Head, Chair and Clerk is pivotal to ensuring a Governing Body runs smoothly, efficiently and strategically.

Speed of Trust

“The first job of a leader – at work or at home – is to inspire trust. It’s to bring out the best in people by entrusting them with meaningful stewardships, and to create an environment in which high-trust interaction inspires creativity and possibility.”

{Stephen M.R.Covey, The Speed of Trust}

You may have heard the term “speed of trust” which is taken from Stephen Covey’s no. 1 bestseller. Essentially – when trust goes up in a relationship, or a team, speed goes up with it and cost comes down. Everything happens faster and everything costs less because trust has been established. This is a key part of creating an effective working relationship between the Head, Chair and Clerk and therefore in ensuring effective Governance.

What Contributes to Effective Governance

How Each Role Contributes to Good Governance

Succession Planning

Consider how your Governing Body can:

  • Attract and keep good quality Governors 
  • Spot and nurture leadership qualities early 
  • Develop the skills of all Governors 
  • Provide quality training, coaching and mentoring 
  • Encourage everyone to take a role 

Developing the Role of Chair

For continuity, the Vice Chair could be the “Chair in training”. To help a potential new Chair develop, consider giving them a chance to:

How would you rate your current Head, Chair, Clerk working relationship?  What works well?  What challenges do you face?  Comment below to share ideas with the Pro Clerking community.

Coming up

I hope you found today’s Blogmas post useful. Come back or subscribe to receive the next post of the Blogmas 2021 series directly to your inbox.

Day 3:  Minute taking buzz words