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Meeting 2 - 26th November 2013

Minutes of Full Board of Governors

FOXHILLS JUNIOR SCHOOL

Held on Tuesday 26th November 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   

                              Mrs. Reader – Co-opted Governor

                              Mr. Thomas – Co-opted Governor

                              Mrs. Datlen - Co-opted & Training Liaison Governor   

                              Mrs. Turner – Parent Governor

                              Mrs. Baker – Parent Governor

                              Mr. Webb – Parent Governor

                              Dr. McKechnie - Co-opted Governor

                   

Apologies:                 Ms. Scevity – Co-opted Governor

                              Mrs. Sides – Parent Governor

                              Mrs. Dulieu – Clerk

 

In Attendance:        Three prospective Parent Governors

                             

 

 

 

Signed:                         A. Arscott                                              Date:   20/01/14

 

 

 

1. Meet potential Parent Governors

Three prospective Parent Governors attended at the beginning of the meeting for an informal chat and to meet the Board.

 

4.55pm Prospective Parent Governors left the meeting

 

2. Apologies

Apologies were received and accepted from Ms. Scevity, Mrs. Sides and Mrs. Dulieu. In the absence of the clerk, Mrs. Datlen agreed to minute the meeting and confirmed that the meeting was quorate.

 

Co-opted Governor, Dr. Roger McKechnie was introduced and welcomed as the latest member to join the Board of Governors.

 

Mrs. Datlen and Mrs. Reader were presented with certificates and badges to mark 8 years' service and thanked for their contributions.

 

3. Declaration of pecuniary interests

None declared. The Clerk will send the form to Dr. McKechnie for completion as soon as possible.

ACTION POINT: Clerk

4. To appoint a parent governor

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

 

5. Minutes of last meeting

With a typing error corrected in the main minutes, both the unrestricted and confidential minutes of 7th October 2013 were proposed, seconded and all agreed that they were a true record of the meeting.

5.15pm Mr. Thomas arrived

 

6. Matters arising

a)Update on action points: The list was updated - see attached.

         

7. Headteacher's Report

 

Questions had been asked and responded to in advance of the meeting (see attached) with the exception of one query on data. The Headteacher has looked at it again, with the Deputy Head and further with Mr. Thomas, but there appears to be a glitch in the tracker software so the information doesn't make sense. This is specific to the number of children on track to achieve 4c at the end of KS2 on page 2 of the report. A revised handout was distributed to governors, giving the correct information and an apology for the confusion.

Additional questions included:

  • Is the number of statemented children correct on page 2, point 2?
    • Typo - should read children in Years 4 and 5
  • Regarding competency of teaching, it was clarified that it is not within the governors' remit to judge quality of teaching. A governor was concerned that the school leadership should be questioned on actions in place to improve teaching, but this would be difficult if they didn't appreciate what was good and what wasn't.
    • The Headteacher agreed to distribute Ofsted guidelines on 'outstanding' lessons to put this into context. This may lead to further discussions at a later date

ACTION POINT: Mr. Shore

  • Governors liked the format of the report and appreciated the clarity of points raised but  asked if successes could be highlighted as well as areas to improve, although it was noted that it should be demonstrated that they are aware of shortcomings. The Headteacher mentioned that the original report was RAG rated (coloured red, amber, green) but had been copied in black and white. A governor requested that future reports be annotated 'R' 'A' 'G' as applicable
  • A governor commented that the report reflects both the School Self Evaluation (SSE) and School Development Plan (SDP)
  •  

8. To receive the School Self Evaluation plan

 

Included in the agenda pack, the Headteacher was asked if governors needed to 'inwardly digest' the information in this document.  Mr. Shore explained that this was a working document, therefore constantly changing, informed by all stakeholders (Parent voice, Pupil Voice, staff etc.) and that Andy Hayes, the new LLP, approved of it. It should be realistic rather than rating the school too highly. A governor asked if the current self-evaluation of 'good' should be amended - it has been revised to a 3, which is 'requires improvement;' the latest document will be circulated once updated.

ACTION POINT: Mr. Shore

A governor asked how the Headteacher saw this document feeding into Committees. This details school priorities which will particularly inform the CLA Committee, but is not necessarily intended to guide governors who produce evidence to inform this SSE. Shouldn't the priorities of the Committees match those on the SSE though? Governors need to focus on the (SDP), which shows school priorities and longer term plans for the next two years rather than this, an evaluation tool.

 

9. Report from the Children's Learning and Attainment Committee (CLA)

 

The minutes of the last meeting, learning walk report and notes of a meeting with the Pupil Premium (PP) Coordinator were included in the agenda pack; a further learning walk report will follow.

ACTION POINT: Mrs. Arscott

The Chair of the CLA thanked the clerk in her absence, for her excellent support and guidance at the last meeting.

 

Teaching and Learning is changing; new routines are in place and a new curriculum being taught. Two learning walks have been completed, the process of which was explained to governors. Should any governors be interested in taking part in a learning walk, please contact Mr. Thomas. The children were polite, well mannered and those in the upper school were very focused and clearly knew their intended direction. A governor commented that the class atmosphere was buzzing and engaging. This was less obvious in the lower school although the pink and green marking system seems to be working well. Two members of the CLA are to organise a pupil conference, but have been unable to achieve this before the meeting.

 

Explaining Pupil Premium for the benefit of new governors, Mr. Thomas reported that 40 children receive this funding, of which 20 are progressing well independently and the remaining 20 receive additional support. The 1:1 sessions conducted by Jennie Bailey will be evaluated by the end of this term. The Headteacher noted that 1:1 teaching is not the most effective way to raise attainment (source: The Sutton Trust), teacher feedback has the bigger impact. A governor asked how many learning walks took place. Two general walks have taken place so far but the Headteacher suggested that they be refined to focus on specific areas which will be driven by the SDP in future. Governors will discuss this at the next CLA meeting and identify focus points for future learning walks.

ACTION POINT: Mr. Thomas

 

10. Report from the Finance and Resources Committee (F&R)

Apologies were offered for the minutes not being available for this meeting but were in draft and would be circulated later. The committee Chair highlighted the main points of the meeting held on 15th November:

  • £9k of funding now available for sports coaching is being directed by Matt Goodchild, who is drafting an action plan for how it will impact the school
    • How will it be used? To up-skill teachers to improve PE provision in school
    • Should it be spent on a particular area of PE? There is no clear guidance from the Authority, it is up to the school to identify areas of weakness
    • Will it be spent on children during the school day or after school clubs as this may exclude children that don't or can't attend? The skills learnt through this provision can be implemented in day to day lessons
    • Can it be spent on linking curricular areas? Areas of the curriculum are already linked so this wouldn't be used for that
    • The playground markings are unclear, which has added a certain difficulty to outdoor lessons that have taken place - could this pay for them to be refreshed? Unfortunately not.

The plan will be reviewed by this committee in due course.

  • The committee Terms of Reference (ToR) have to be revised to be integrated with the new Pay Committee
  • There were no significant surprises and the one concern over maintenance has been explained by the Headteacher - this can be seen in the minutes
  • The Headteacher asked if he could spend more on ICT. The Chair agreed that this was an area in need of intensive financial support, which would be discussed by the committee
  • The budget is on track, year to date, but will be monitored due to the long term staff sickness currently being experienced. A Service Level Agreement is in place that covers teaching staff absence after 20 days but this will be reviewed. For a further £3k, insurance can be sourced for all staff after just 3 days. Would they take existing medical conditions into account? The small print is being scrutinised at the moment.  A governor asked if it was possible to share this with the infant school. This is where Academy chains work well, not independent schools. What support is the school getting with regard to staff on long-term sick absence? The Headteacher has taken advice from Human Resources (HR) on lessening the impact through the involvement of HR and Occupational Health.
  • Numbers on Roll (NoR) are to be considered with the Infant School being 17 over number and returning to a 3-form entry. As funding is based on NoR, this needs to be factored in. A governor commented that it doesn't seem to be very long ago that we reduced the PAN (Pupil Admission Number).  There are currently 353 children in school, leaving space for a further 7. The report shows only 343 - New children have recently joined and funding is received in quarterly chunks. Where does the money come from for equipping these new children e.g. new classrooms etc.? The school has the capacity to expand to a 4-form entry without too much disruption (ICT suite, spare Y6 classroom, community room etc.) but HCC are responsible for kitting out schools for expansion. The Headteacher is currently in negotiation with the Authority for improvements to Year 3 classrooms
  • A governor commented that it would be useful to see a more detailed breakdown. This is discussed in detail at committee level and was decided, by the FGB, that an overview be shared at the main meeting.
  • Both the CLA and F&R committees look at PP from different aspects, so the PP Working Party was set up to offer a 'joined up' approach to show impact and accountability for spending
  • The following figures were agreed by the F&R committee:

          Year to date brought forward:       £ 55,959.90 

Income:                                      £1,283,420.62        

Expenditure:                               £ 819,010.51          

Surplus:                                      £ 464,410.11

Total surplus , year to date:                    £ 520,370.01

 

Since the Committee meeting, a revised budget has been issued following a visit from HCC Financial Services (a copy of which was tabled) detailed as follows:

 

Year to date brought forward:       £ 55,960

Income:                                      £1,324,452

Expenditure:                               £ 1,356,321

Surplus:                                      £ (31,869)

Cumulative surplus C/Fwd           £  £24,091  

 

Whilst showing a deficit, current staffing costs, resulting from long term sickness, have been rolled over into 2014 and, as the budget for 2014-15 is not yet known any deficit is expected to be addressed. Currently, the surplus gained during the absence of a Deputy Head is being diminished; this will obviously be closely monitored in the new year. The Headteacher reassured governors that there is flexibility in school to avoid a deficit e.g. the Deputy Head can go back into class if necessary.  A governor asked who would support the school if it went into deficit.  HCC would be notified and would advise on structural staff changes if necessary but there is a lot of flexibility built-in; obviously a deficit will be avoided if at all possible. The F&R Committee recommend this revised budget for approval by the FGB. It was proposed, seconded and all agreed.

 

6.15pm Mrs. Arscott left the meeting and Mr. Monk chaired from this point

 

11. Fixed Term Penalties

Further information is to be provided on this subject before the FGB can make an informed decision so was deferred to the next meeting.

 

12. Terms of Reference for the Teachers' Pay Committee

 

This model policy was circulated with the agenda papers and will come into effect in September 2014. A governor asked how many governors need to be on the committee.  A minimum of three is standard for any committee to be quorate, but more may join. It was requested that the clerk amend the ToR to reflect 3 or more governors to join the committee, but it clearly states a "minimum of three governors" which is the standard wording on any ToR so there is no real need to change this. The Terms of Reference were proposed, seconded and all agreed to be adopted.

 

13. To appoint a Teachers' Pay Committee

 

Following on from the ToR, the Committee now should be formed to sign off decisions made by the Headteacher regarding staff pay therefore staff governors are precluded from joining. Members were agreed as Mr. Monk, Dr. McKechnie, Mr. Thomas and Mr. Webb whose first meeting would be held in late September/October of 2014. The date will be confirmed in the summer term and a Chair nominated at the first meeting. Mr. Monk will set the date.

ACTION POINT: Mr. Monk

14. Governor Training

 

Mrs. Datlen summarised the training activity and agreed to send Mrs. Thomson a training feedback form.

ACTION POINT: Mrs. Datlen

The Training Liaison Governor (TLG) summarised training activity during the last term and reminded governors to please make use of the training offered by Governor Services (GS).  It may be that their role as a governor has changed or that they need to attend refresher training relevant to the committee membership.  Full details of all GS training is on the website and the TLG is happy to advise if any further information is necessary. 

Governors who attend training should also complete a Training Feedback Form available from the Clerk and this should be completed and returned to the Clerk who will copy it to the TLG and keep on file.

The TLG outlined training provision for new governors and will arrange to meet with Dr McKechnie to discuss training needs

ACTION POINT: Mrs Datlen

 

15. Any other business

 

The clerk attended her support training session held by Governor Services last week and raised the following points from that:

a) Governors shouldn't comment on social media about school issues, especially if they are expressing their own opinion that's at odds with policies/procedures of the school which have been agreed at FGB. Something to this effect is recommended to be included in Standing Orders/Code of Conduct and the school's internet policy. It's harder to deal with the consequences of an incident than preventing one.

 

b) Governors should check if they use a work email address that it is not contravening any of their employer's codes of conduct e.g. using work time for non-work activities/subjects etc.

c) Latest Ofsted advice from recently inspected school is that it was totally data driven - a little on performance management and pupil premium but otherwise the focus was on data. Governors should be aware of strengths and weaknesses of school and what is in place to address the weaknesses. How well governors present and know the school affects the outcome on leadership. Do we have a school ethos and are governors involved in setting priorities for school improvement? An Ofsted crib sheet is more than acceptable - govs should not be expected to remember everything - they are volunteers!

The Headteacher commented that data drives the focus of the school so it follows that Ofsted would concentrate on that. The ethos, as it stands now, is the subject of the main display in reception and the first thing you see on entering the school. If the Headteacher can be released from a planned cluster meeting, the INSET day on 14th February 2014 will be very much focused on the ethos and vision and would be ideal for governors to attend and take part with staff.

ACTION POINT: Mr. Shore

 

d) Advice on clerks meeting Ofsted - provide minutes and associated papers where necessary but don't answer any questions as clerks should be impartial - leave that to the governors!

 

e)  Clerk to send committee structure and the most recent minutes of each committee to Dr. McKechnie so that he can decide which he would prefer to join.

                                                                                          ACTION POINT: CLERK

 

f)  The FJSA Winter Fayre is being held on Friday 6th December 2-4pm, all governors welcome to attend and help, if possible.

 

g) The school photographer will be available between 10.30am and 12.00 for governor photographs, which will be full-length this time, so smart attire please!

 

Thanking the governors for a good meeting, the meeting ended at 6.42pm.

 

Date of next meetings: Monday 20th January 2014 at 7pm, Tuesday 18th March at 4.30pm, Monday 19th May at 7pm and Tuesday 8th July at 4.30pm