Governors’ Annual Statement for 2017-18
Living out the Federation values of Love, Respect and Aspire, governors are ambitious for the Federation and are committed to improving both educational and pastoral outcomes for everyone in our learning community.
What a year it has been! The federation is going from strength to strength and governors are so proud of the part everyone connected with the schools has played. As there is no longer a statutory requirement for governors to write an annual report, this will be the last report in this format. Instead, governors have decided to write a termly update for parents and staff and we hope you will find them informative and helpful.
Key issues of the year:
Junior School Ofsted inspection:
Governors were very pleased to meet with the Ofsted inspector last November to discuss the high quality provision of the school and we agree completely with his statement that “This is a happy and thriving school where staff work tirelessly to achieve the best outcomes for children.” This is evidenced not just by academic results, but also by the impact of the emphasis on emotional health and wellbeing across the federation.
Academic results in both schools have been superb this year as we continue our journey to Outstanding. As we carry out our monitoring roles we can see clearly the rapid acceleration of progress in teaching and learning and in academic and pastoral outcomes.
Governors do not just look at the short term for the future of our schools and have a real responsibility for ensuring excellent Christian education for the children of our village for the future in our church schools. With the village growing rapidly with the new housing developments, we have been working closely with the local authority to ensure there is permanent teaching accommodation for each class. This included making a presentation to the Parish Council and responding to questions and comments from councillors and members of the public, in addition to the federation hosting a consultation event for the local community which was attended by a number of governors. Work is now underway on the new classroom for the junior school and internal improvements are being made in both schools. Funding for this was obtained from developers’ contributions from the new local housing developments.
Governors consulted with parents and staff and the local community on Hampshire County Council proposals for changes to school catchment areas which were being made to rationalise catchment boundaries because of the huge increase in house building across the area. We lobbied County very hard over the proposals, which could have left a number of families living in the parish without entitlement to attend our village schools. Foundation governors made a presentation to the Parochial Church Council, whose members were very supportive. A presentation was also made to the Parish Council, but councillors decided a response was not within its remit. We were very pleased that our efforts resulted in changes to the proposals which have ensured that all the new housing north of Cranberry Gardens will be a shared catchment area between Bursledon and Netley Abbey schools. We believe this is a fair solution for all the schools concerned.
County councillors would not however agree to consult on realigning the boundaries south of Cranberry Gardens to include homes in Old Netley and the new development at Berry Farm, leaving us with the situation that some families who live in the ecclesiastical parish are outside our schools’ catchment area. Governors have been working with the Diocese to find a solution to improve this situation and Diocesan officers will be putting forward a proposal to the School Admissions Forum on our behalf later this year.
Much work has been going on behind the scenes to try to find ways of improving safety in Long Lane and School Road at school drop off and pick up times. This work culminated in Mrs Smith and Mrs Bax meeting with all three tiers of local government (Parish Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and Hampshire County Council) in March. The federation was praised for the very high quality travel plan we produced, following previous consultation with parents and children. Councillors listened very carefully to our concerns and suggestions for improvements. We are already beginning to see the impact of this meeting. A map detailing the voluntary one way system was produced for us and distributed to parents - we do ask that on those occasions you need to travel by car that you always travel by this route and do not access Long Lane from the A27. There was agreement that there needed to be a “Long Lane Users’ Travel Plan” to address the very complex issues in the lane. This will be spearheaded by councillors and our federation travel plan will be included in it.
Traffic Management at Hampshire County Council have drawn up proposals for greatly improved signage for the schools and a 20 mph speed limit at drop off and pick up times. Governors have been lobbying for this for a number of years and are very pleased that these measures should be put in place before the end of this financial year. There will be no cost to the schools for this work. Other measures we suggested are being discussed and we will keep you informed as discussions progress.
However, there will never be sufficient parking in Long Lane and any parking in School Road creates considerable danger for children, parents and other road users. Governors therefore continue to ask parents to walk, car share or use the park and stride facility wherever possible, to reduce congestion and keep everyone safe.
The changes made to governance structures last year resulted in more streamlined, effective working and gave the whole governing body increased understanding and knowledge of all areas of governance. The impact has been so positive that we have decided to continue this streamlining process by adopting a system known as flat governance. Instead of having committee meetings, full governing body meetings will be held most months. We believe that this will benefit the federation by: avoiding repetition between meetings; allowing decisions to be made immediately rather than being passed through a number of committees; ensuring rapid turnaround of changes and actions generated at meetings and ensuring every governor has an understanding of the full range of governing body responsibilities, enabling more informed and rounded decisions.
One of our biggest challenges this year has been the budgets. The governing body worked closely and effectively with Mrs Smith and the federation business manager to work within our budgets, despite increased costs, whilst minimising as far as possible, the impact on the children. The Finance and Resources Committee met termly with a key focus on 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. Finance was also a key agenda item at full governing body business meetings, which reflect the great concern governors have about our ever tighter budgets.
The working party which was set up to consider alternative sources of income has met a number of times with some key areas agreed to focus on, such as funding awards and grants. Initial planning is underway to improve the playground with new exciting equipment for the children. Governors attended finance briefings and training sessions and took part in consultations on school funding.
Standards and progress
The Standards Committee has met each term this year with the aim of understanding how school policy is developing and improving the school for all pupils. As a governing body we seek to monitor progress and change both through the meetings that we have and by visiting the schools to see how practice has been embedded. In the Standards meetings we have scrutinised progress data in detail with particular attention paid to the differences in progress between groups, heard reports on pupil progress, as well as reports on the impact of Pupil Premium and Sports Premium expenditure. Pupil Premium and Sports Premium reports can be found on the school website in the Key Information section. We have also spent a considerable amount of time this year assessing the impact of various policies to improve attendance in the schools. As a result we are confident as a governing body that the school has put every effort into this area.
Governors have perhaps undertaken fewer visits to the schools overall this year but have still monitored several aspects of the schools including learning walks of the environment, visits to Early Years, SEND and the monitoring of the progress of specific year groups. Governors have also monitored pupil books on numerous occasions to see the progress of children over time. This monitoring 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 to the way that the governing body will work next year should lead to more governors being directly involved in actively monitoring standards within the schools, not least through the Key Stage links which we hope will lead to individual governors being more able to see change in the classroom, reflecting and illustrating the reports we hear at Full Governing Body meetings.