Governors Annual Statement for 2016/17
Governing bodies are the strategic leaders of schools and have a vital role to play in making sure that every child gets the best possible education.
The federation governing body has a strong focus on three core strategic functions:
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
- Holding the executive headteacher to account for the educational performance of the federation, and the performance management of staff
- Overseeing the financial performance of the federation and making sure its money is well spent
This statement follows on from previous years’ statements which remain on the federation website.
We amended our processes for self evaluation this year which led to a very productive strategic conversation at the July Full Governing Body meeting. Prior to this all governors had met with the chair in reflection meetings to celebrate successes and identify next steps (the chair held her reflection meeting with the vice chair). A skills audit in line with the revised governor competencies was completed by all governors, highlighting the need to strengthen governance with further financial expertise. Using Inspiring Governance, a new governor with an excellent business background was co-opted at the July meeting. The Governor Action Plan for 2016-17, based on the Outstanding requirements for governance, was RAG rated (red, amber, green) and it was agreed that this was a very good model to continue. All these discussions fed into the strategic conversation at our Full Governing Body Meeting in July where the BCG matrix, widely used in industry, was used to identify areas of excellence, areas which were solidly good and reliable and areas which needed further input. From this, we identified the areas to be included in the Raising Attainment Plans for the next school year and, in a subsequent meeting, specific areas of governor monitoring for 2017/18 were agreed.
During our review of governance in 2016 we agreed to adjust the meeting schedule with the aim of simplifying and streamlining workload and giving the whole governing body increased understanding and knowledge of all areas of governance. The main impact of the change to one full governing body business meeting and one school improvement meeting each term, has been a higher focus on school improvement with very effective monitoring of standards and progress as we have dug deeply into data and then connected it with practice in the classroom. Following a mid-year review, some tweaks were made to our monitoring processes & reporting which made them even more effective.
Part of governors’ long term strategic planning for the federation campus was for a central building to be used as resource for the whole federation. Governors have been in discussion with Hampshire County Council regarding this for some time and, with the reorganisation of Sure Start centres nationally, we were very pleased to accept the offer of receiving the Windmill Centre building as part of the federation. The building is already being put to very good use for federation Nurture and ELSA work and County is supporting us with matched funding to create cookery facilities. Further plans are in the pipeline for when funding is available.
An electronic gate has now been installed at the entrance to the staff car park. This has stopped unauthorised vehicular access and increased safety for children and staff as they move from one building to another.
We are all very aware of traffic congestion in Long Lane and School Road and the dangers this poses to children, their families and local residents. Governors have been working closely with Hampshire County Council, Eastleigh Borough Council, Bursledon Parish Council and local residents’ groups to try to find solutions to this very complex issue. We have carried out a detailed review of the schools’ travel plan in conjunction with the travel planning officer from Eastleigh Borough Council and the revised travel plan will be finalised during the autumn term. As part of an initiative to reduce pollution in Southampton and the surrounding areas, the schools will be receiving support from Sustrans on sustainable modes of transport. We remain grateful for the high number of families who walk to school each day or use the Park and Stride facility in Lowford and ask that, wherever possible, cars are not parked in School Road as this is particularly unsafe.
We have had some movement of governors this year, both with governors ending their terms of office and for personal reasons. We have shown good succession planning within the governing body for key roles and used both SGOSS and Inspiring Governance in order to appoint governors with the skills required, as identified in the annual skills audit.
The Standards Committee has met each term this year with a primary focus on monitoring the progress of children within both schools. We have scrutinised progress data in detail with particular attention paid to the differences in progress between groups, and then connected this with actual practice in the classroom. We have also received reports on pupil progress, feedback on policies to improve attendance and reports on the impact of Pupil Premium and Sports Premium expenditure amongst many other things. Pupil Premium and Sports Premium reports can be found on the school website in the Key Information section.
Governors have also undertaken visits to monitor various aspects of the schools including Early Years, ELSA and reading. These visits along with the presentation of detailed progress reports by senior and middle leaders at both Standards Committee and Full Governing Body meetings has enabled governors to effectively hold the school to account for the attainment and progress of pupils and examine the relative development of vulnerable groups compared to the whole cohort. The changes made to the structure of Full Governing Body meetings have meant that more governors are able to be actively involved in this process through the monitoring that happens at the School Improvement meetings each term.
Initial areas for monitoring in 2017-18 have already been identified in liaison with the Executive Head Teacher.
Infant School Ofsted Inspection
We were pleased to have Ofsted visit the Infants School on 14th March and show them the progress that the school has made since the previous inspection in January 2013. The school was again judged to be ‘Good’ and the inspector noted that the bar to achieve this rating had been raised in the intervening four years.
Some of the key comments included:
- A commendation of the “passion, drive and strong leadership” of Mrs Smith that has “enabled the school to go from strength to strength”
- “Governors are equally committed and share the high aspirations for all pupils. They support and challenge leaders appropriately in equal measures”
- “Commitment to staff development is a particular strength. High-quality coaching and regular training opportunities enable teachers to build well upon their skills and knowledge”
- “Staff pay the highest regard to pupils’ emotional well-being”
- “Strengths identified at the last inspection (have been maintained) and incisive action (has been taken) to address those areas identified for improvement”
Most pleasingly, the Ofsted report noted that “everyone is a learner at Bursledon” and “the school’s values of ‘love, respect, aspire’ radiate throughout the school.” The full report is available on the school website.
In addition to the many ad hoc discussions with children whilst on Learning Walks, sharing lunch and various visits to the schools, two major surveys were conducted by governors this year.
In December a governor survey looked at the Christian distinctiveness of the infant school as a church school and the junior school as an affiliated school. This included discussions with the children and observations of behaviour and relationships at playtime and lunch time. We saw how the children had assimilated the core values with many expressing the opinion that they felt love was the most important. Children clearly adhered to these values as demonstrated by the way they behaved towards each other and to the staff and visitors to the schools.
In May governors undertook a Safeguarding audit in both schools. One boy and one girl was interviewed from each class - we asked that they should not be members of the school council. As the schools were having a drive on attendance and lateness we included questions on what could be done to improve this. Children assured governors that they felt they could talk to any adult they trusted if they had a safeguarding concern. Many ideas they had for improving attendance and lateness have since been put into practice, for example Attendance Champs and Bingo Top Dog.
Ideas for improving the school generally were relayed to the school council. The children liked the termly governors’ awards and felt they were very special. All the children interviewed felt they were treated fairly and equally.
The ground the school council has covered this year has been amazing. This is all very well documented in the regular and detailed reports received from the children but we would like to draw attention to two particular aspects which clearly illustrate that pupils' voice is being heard loudly and clearly! Both Arts Week and Craze of the Week were as a direct result of children's requests through School Council.
It has long been an aim of the governors that school council and pupil voice be firmly embedded in the culture of the schools and this is now an established reality.
Instead of using formal questionnaires this year, parent opinions have been sought on a wide range of issues largely through end of parent evening responses. Outcomes from these include:
- Cookery to be added to the schools’ timetable – achieved through support of Hampshire catering and will be further enhanced by the new kitchen facilities in the hub in the autumn term
- More arts and crafts - a very successful Arts Week
- Improve the look of the playgrounds – work by School Council, fundraising by the PTA, Arts Week
- Increased opportunities for transition, including a ‘meet the teacher’ session for parents
- Formal survey which coincided with the Infant School’s Ofsted inspection
Sharing Good Practice
With the Local Authority regarding the federation as having exemplary practice in Learning Environments, Coaching, Continuing Professional Development opportunities and emotional health and well-being, the federation continues to be visited by senior leaders and staff from other schools. The chair of governors continues in her role as associate staff member of the Diocesan education team.
Governor Training and Development
This continues to have a high focus and training feedback at full governing body meetings has been adjusted to ensure all governors benefit by the dissemination of information obtained through individual governors’ training sessions.
Finance and budgetary pressures
One of our biggest challenges this year has been the budgets. For the Finance and Resources Committee which meets each term, our key focus has been monitoring the federation’s finances and ensuring a balanced budget whilst still providing the key resources to support the progress of children within both schools. In response to the cut in the budget the senior leadership team and governors had to revise the schools’ budgets for the next three years and took some hard decisions on where money will need to be saved whilst ensuring that any impact of this loss of funding was minimised on the education that our children receive. Governors also lobbied the local MP about the proposed national funding formula, expressing our concerns about the proposal and how they would adversely affect budgets. These concerns were passed to the relevant government ministers.
In addition, to support the federation, we have set up a governor working party to consider alternative sources of income such as fundraising, looking at obtaining grants and other sources of external funding.