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Meeting 06 9th July 2013

Minutes of Full Board of Governors

FOXHILLS JUNIOR SCHOOL

Held on Monday 9th July 2013 - commenced 4.30pm

 

Present:                   Mrs. Arscott – Chair         

                              Mr. Shore – Headteacher

                              Mrs. Thomson – Staff Governor

                              Mr. Fillis – Co-opted Governor

                              Mr. Monk - Co-opted Governor   

                              Mr. Thomas – Co-opted Governor

                              Mrs. Datlen - Co-opted & Training Liaison Governor   

                              Mr. Gray – Parent Governor

                              Mrs. Turner – Parent Governor

                              Mrs. Baker – Parent Governor

                              Mr. Webb – Parent Governor

                              Mrs. Sides – Parent Governor

                             

Apologies:                Mrs. Reader – Co-opted Governor

                             Ms. Scevity – Co-opted Governor

                             

In Attendance:         Mrs. Dulieu – Clerk

 

 

 

Signed:                       A. Arscott                                   Date:      07/10/13

 

 

 

1. Apologies

Apologies were received and accepted from Mrs. Reader and Ms Scevity who are both on a residential school trip. The clerk confirmed that the meeting was quorate.

2. Declaration of pecuniary interests

None were declared.

3. Minutes of last meeting

The minutes of 20th May 2013 were proposed, seconded and all agreed that they were a true record of the meeting.

A governor asked about the WGBT training booked for September being delivered by Carolyn Millar which was raised at the last meeting but not minuted. It was explained that the tutors were booked and it was confirmed last week that Carolyn would not be doing it.

4. Matters arising

a)Update on action points: The list was updated with all actions discharged except for one. The CLA minutes will be sent to the clerk for distribution in due course.

 

The Chair informed governors of the resignation of Mr. Morris due to work pressures and that Mr. Gray would be stepping down at the end of this term.

 

 

 

5. Headteacher's Report

This report was distributed in advance of the agenda papers and questions asked and responded to in a separate document (see attached). Supplementary questions were invited:

  • There was a 1% fall in attendance figures since the autumn term, what methods can governors implement to support you in this regard? The intention is to track attendance and eventually show term on term comparisons and identify trends. The drop is disappointing but it will be interesting to see results year on year. People tend to take their children out anyway, what consequences do they face? Parents can be fined and, in fact are in other schools, but this must be a last resort as we don't want to alienate parents, we need them on our side. The Headteacher explained the fixed penalty process to governors.

4.37pm Mr. Fillis arrived

Perhaps it would be useful to use children's attainment and the ability to reach their full potential rather than Ofsted judgments as leverage for attendance - Ofsted is less important to parents than the school.

4.40pm Mrs. Sides arrived

From September 2013, the Government ruling will change so that no holiday is granted in term time. 15% absence is considered persistent and Teachers already appreciate the impact that has on individuals. Parents think they are entitled to take their children out for up to 10 days per year. This will change, which was made clear at the recent new parents' evening. Lack of attendance results in less opportunities to celebrate successes; the new website will include live attendance data on the front page to engage parents by giving them immediate access to this information. What is being done about it? Celebration certificates and class of the week announced in celebration assemblies and the plan for the new website. All the Heads in the area are working on this. How much impact has holidays authorised before you started had on this year's figures? A certain amount was inherited but no holidays have been authorised since which may mean that the unauthorised absence stats may increase. The Headteacher has sought specific advice from the LA with regard to applications for specific absences which he explained to governors.

  • The SEN document sent out with the report shows that there is a lot of work to be done around certain children, is it in place yet? The role of SENCo has been simplified and SEN is low. Yes, there's a lot of work, but the SENCo role is over 3 days which should be sufficient for the number of children involved. The LA support package includes SEN as this group of children are not making as much progress when compared to other schools.
  • A neighbour complained to the school and HCC about the noise caused by the gate being opened and shut, cars stopping and starting and car radios being played loudly.  This has only occurred since the decision to keep the access gate closed during school hours. The Chair has written to him, inviting him in for a meeting, but has had no response nor has he been home to take a phone call. A further letter will be sent to say that attempts to contact him have been made. (Update 18/07/13  -  a meeting has taken place between the CoG,  Headteacher and the complainant.  A report will be available at the next meeting)
  • An access permit holder has been abusive to the Infant School CoG and will receive a letter warning them of the possibility that their permit may be revoked.
  • With regard to the new pink and green marking system, has the Teacher-led marking policy been revised to accompany the self assessment? The pink and green marking is both self and Teacher assessment - the children mark in pencil, the Teacher marks in highlighter and adds a qualifying statement at the end of the work. Children also use their marked pink and green work to set and achieve their targets, this drives their independence. Green gives the next steps and children are given time to respond to the qualifying statements if necessary.
  • Useful questions asked of the Headteacher's report are on a separate document - could they be included in the minutes as evidence for Ofsted? The question and response document is associated with the meetings' minutes, but the Clerk agreed to include a statement specifically referring to that document for this purpose.

ACTION POINT: CLERK

·       The Chair asked governors if this system of advance questioning is a working. Governors suggested that more questions were likely to be asked and the Headteacher agreed that his answers would be more detailed although there were concerns about only asking subsidiary questions at the meeting. Sometimes the answers triggered further thoughts which should be allowed the opportunity to air. The original intention was to send the report out earlier than the agenda pack, but this term has been short and the agenda packed tight. In future, the report will be out nearer to two weeks before a meeting, allowing the governors to question and the Headteacher to respond with less time constraints but all agreed it was a good system.   6. Report on Local Authority (LA) Support package meeting

 A meeting was held recently between Andrew Shore, Chris Bristow, Ann Arscott and Angela Wedgwood for the purpose of feedback from the LA team on the school's progress since the support package began. The support has proved effective with improvements in all areas showing the school is heading in the right direction. The brief meeting included information on Ofsted focus areas which include data, parent-view and the school website. Last Friday, 5th July, Stella Counsell and Angela Wedgwood conducted a LA/LLP monitoring visit, sampling lessons with Andrew Shore and Chris Bristow. No report has been returned as yet, but verbal feedback was mixed - they were pleased with progress, could see differences and most positive. Teaching and Learning is not quite there yet; quick improvements must be made with a target of 80% of teaching to be 'good' by mid September and if it's not, the Headteacher must have a plan in place of what the next steps will be. Value for Money (VFM) will be sought with higher paid staff, with Ofsted looking for high quality progress and learning. Governors will also be scrutinised under Leadership and Management on how teaching improvements are being made. A governor asked how many Teachers are not currently 'good?' The Headteacher sampled 75% 'good' lessons on his last observations and commented that it was not as high as that last week and suggested that the school would be on the borderline of 'Requires Improvement' and 'Good' at present. What do we, as governors, need to do to help? Support the drive for high expectation and quality learning in lessons. Critical to success is the Teachers performing to their grade and pay scale. Does their self assessment match your independent assessment of their performance and how is the evidence of success gathered? Evidence is triangulated over time by the children's work in books, data and the new eight teaching standards which dovetails with their performance management. Proof of performance is vital and has been discussed with individuals. There are different expectations of Teachers who have been teaching for four years than those who've been teaching for ten. Progress across the school is not where it should be and everyone is on a journey, the Headteacher expressed confidence that his staff will achieve their goals, especially with the support of the Deputy Head who joined at Easter. Nobody is saying that they don't need to improve and they are only one term into that journey. In January this year, there was insufficient evidence to keep the school out of a 'Requires Improvement' category; now the evidence is there with 'Good' elements which will keep the school out of 'Inadequate.' Why have Teachers that were previously judged 'Good' changed so dramatically? The Ofsted criteria has changed and there are now very different expectations.

 

7. School Development Plan (SDP)

As with the Headteacher's report, questions were asked in advance and included in the document associated with that report.

A working document, governors liked the detail included in the SDP and accepted that it would constantly evolve. The Headteacher explained that the end of term assessments were in and Teachers were analysing the data. The LLP feedback would also be included. It is still being developed but will give governors a lot of information. The Headteacher invited further questions or comments:

  • How are we proposing to monitor this? An updated SDP will be brought to governor meetings and visits will be planned with regard to the aims included in the document. The intention is to break the plan down into half termly actions which will be focused on a Raising Attainment Plan (RAP). The critical pathway is blank at present but will be set for September. This will set targets to be monitored and a termly breakdown produced which will be easier for governors to do.
  • From a F&R committee view, monitoring determines itself from this - VFM will be obvious as it includes resource costs which opens questions and will prove whether it's working or not. We will see it in action - picking out key elements in key committees will break it down rather than bringing it to the FGB each time and slots in with the actions circulated and allocated to committees/individuals. It will link in with the timetable for committee meetings.
  • The Headteacher asked how effective the SDP would be to aid governors' monitoring and holding him to account adding that they could add things in to help  meet monitoring requirements. The governors decided that time would prove the use of the document, expecting that the first half term should be sufficient. An update will be given to governors at least termly with an aim of half termly once it's in place.
  • What are the long term plans? There is a long term vision rather than a plan which is yet to be written down. A five-year view will be included by the end of the next term.

ACTION POINT: Mr. Shore

8. To approve the protocol for Governor Visits

Mr. Shore and Mrs. Thomson have worked hard on the revision of this document, which was distributed with the agenda papers and invited questions and comments:

  • A good document, defining exactly what visits are all about.
  • The policy is not long, but there are many appendices which can be referred to before a visit which will help to set the aims.
  • How are visits initiated? Currently, the committees plan visits for the term with the Headteacher so can be arranged via the respective Chairs and agreed with Mr. Shore. Visits are related to elements of the SDP which should self-generate those required, but if individuals have particular areas of interest and of note to the GB, they are welcome to approach the Chairs to discuss the next step. Records of the visits should be kept for evidence.
  • The CLA has completed two of their five planned visits and will also include a Literacy Walk of 2-3 classes with a member of the leadership team to gain an overview of the subjects. Mr. Fillis has met with the SENCo. Reports of these visits/meetings should be sent to the Clerk for distribution.

ACTION POINT: CLA & Mr. Fillis

  • A governor was concerned that a whole morning of the leadership team member's time was needed to explain processes to governors and the interpretation of jargon but the Headteacher assured them that this time investment initially would pay dividends later and was not a barrier.
  • Governors agreed that they all should look at what the school was trying to achieve and understand how it was being accomplished by defining visits and involving everyone.
  • Why can't notes be taken during an observation? For the protection of the staff and pupils - note taking can be seen as threatening and has connotations of inspection. Governors are there to monitor rather than observe. Advice from Carolyn Millar 24/07/13: Governors should not take notes, but should record the key points (say three) immediately afterwards to enable them to write a brief report. 
  • The de-brief after the last visit was brilliant, thank you.
  • The specific purpose of the visit must be established in advance and the wording of this in the protocol will be discussed at the next CLA meeting.

ACTION POINT: Mr. Thomas

The Protocol was adopted subject to the phrase to be discussed at the CLA meeting.

 

9. Report from Children's Learning and Attainment Committee, including Visits

The Chair of the Committee reported on the main focus of the recent Conference, which was on Pupil Premium, and his recent conversation with Carolyn Millar with regard to judging progress on this group in school. Her advice was to ask the school how to demonstrate learning and progress through the children's books. A meeting will be held between Mr. Thomas, Mrs. Sides and Mr. Monk, who can offer the financial aspect, early next term. It was also noted that Mrs. Easton is leading Pupil Premium in school now.

 

Mr. Thomas informed governors of Steph Mander's detailed briefing, including a whole list of powerful strategies for Literacy, noting that she is putting a great deal of effort into the school.

 

With only a week left until the end of term, all meetings will take place in the autumn. A timetable for data meetings was discussed.

 

Governors thanked the Chair of the committee for his report.

10. Pupil Premium

The course information and analysis toolkit was distributed with the agenda pack. Mr. Monk informed governors that the Clerk has the PowerPoint presentation that can be emailed to anyone interested. He explained that Pupil Premium pupils need to make good progress; it is insufficient for them to make the standard levels of progress, they must make up the shortfall and excel for Pupil Premium to prove effective. The toolkit can be completed and given to Ofsted for evidence, usually requiring no further questions, so would be a useful document to complete.

The Chair thanked Mr. Monk for his comprehensive report.

 

11. Review of Ofsted 'crib'

Not all feedback has been received on this document as yet, which was distributed a few weeks ago. The Chair asked governors to reply by email as soon as possible so that information can be collated over the holidays and sent out next term.

ACTION POINT: ALL

12. To confirm membership of the PRP policy Committee

Notes of the June meeting were emailed to governors which included actions and points to consider - these will be followed up later. The model policy should be available from 15th July to include a letter to teachers. Mrs. Thomson agreed to collate thoughts from the staff and bring to a meeting to be held after the draft policy has been received. Committee members were agreed as: Mrs. Arscott, Mr. Monk, Ms Scevity and Mrs. Thomson.

 

13.  Reports from governors' training courses

a) Governors' annual conference  b) Protecting children  c) Introduction for new Governors  d) Data in Primary schools and e) Strategic finance in schools

The reports and any associated papers were distributed with the agenda papers and the Chair thanked governors, informing them that any actions would be fed into the responsibilities plan. Questions and comments were invited:

  • The Introduction was really informative and attended by new and experienced governors alike as a refresher. It helped to understand how governance works.
  • It was useful to have explained how to triangulate data for monitoring.
  • Mrs. Baker attended the Introduction last week and will send a training feedback form to the Clerk for distribution.

ACTION POINT: Mrs. Baker

  • An observation about not setting deficit budgets was clarified so that the following financial year's budget must be surplus but Years 2 and 3 may be forecast in deficit. The LA may question plans in place to clear it.
  • A governor was interested to see how the SSE (School Self Evaluation plan - formerly the school SEF) feeds in to the SDP. The Headteacher expressed his wish to bring this document to the next CLA meeting for discussion as it underpins the SDP and governors need to see that process.

ACTION POINT: Mr. Thomas

          It was noted that the Introduction for new Governors course explained the self     evaluation and school plan process.

 

14. Governor Training

The recent Training Liaison Governor (TLG) meeting was told that training costs will increase from December 2013 but more information will be available in September. This will have an effect on the school budget.  

 

 A new training booklet will be sent to governors in the next couple of weeks and an electronic version will be available too.

 

The WGBT session is confirmed for 7pm on 23rd September.

 

Thanks to all governors who have attended training. Some venues can be difficult to get to but the Headteacher agreed that staff can be released for training if necessary.

 

15. For information

a) Health and Safety Audit

The audit's format has changed so a recent inspection by Robert Sentance was carried out to focus on medication, fire and access.  The result of this is that the medicines policy needs revising and the new fire system is good. A report will be produced to include recommended and immediate actions. It is advised that HCC be contacted with regard to the security of the grounds - the Infant School installed a high fence following their last Ofsted inspection as a visual deterrent - so that we are seen to be taking a proactive approach. A governor asked about school security over the summer holidays. The Health and Safety 'working alone' policy will be revised before the end of term to ensure that the site supervisor is covered.

 

 

16. Any other business

a) A confidential item was discussed and there is a separate confidential minute for this item.

 

b) The SATs papers have been returned and the preliminary results are as follows for percentages of children achieving level 4: Writing, 74%; Reading, 82% and Maths, 82%. A more detailed breakdown will be available in November when RAISEonline results are published but it is estimated that the worst case scenario will be a combined result of 67% - not greatly different to the teacher assessments. Considering the starting point predictions in September, progress has been outstanding with all credit to the Year 6 team. Governors asked that their congratulations be passed on to the team and their achievement minuted.

 

b) Ashurst and Colbury fete will be held on 7th September 2013 in Wharton's Lane park. Please could governors help to set up from 7.30am or be on the stall.

 

c) The recent open evening was well attended with many visitors from the three feeder schools, and more than previously from Hazelwood. Lots of positive comments received. The Year 3 parents were informed of the school uniform from September of blue jumper/cardigan and black or dark grey trousers/skirts as detailed in the new Prospectus document.

 

The Chair thanked all the governors for their hard work this year and presented Mr. Gray with a card and bottle of wine as a token of appreciation for his efforts during his term as Parent Governor. Mr. Gray responded with thanks and praised the work of both the governors and Governor Services, especially the quality of their support and training.

 

The meeting ended at 6.25pm.

 

Date of next meetings:

 

WGBT 23rd September at 7pm

Monday 7th October at 7pm

Tuesday 26th November at 4.30pm

Monday 20th January 2014 at 7pm

Tuesday 18th March at 4.30pm

Monday 19th May at 7pm

Tuesday 8th July at 4.30pm