Meeting 02 27th November 2012
Minutes of Full Board of Governors
FOXHILLS JUNIOR SCHOOL
Held on Tuesday 27th November 2012 - commenced 4.30pm
Present: Mrs. Arscott – Chair
Mr. Shore – Headteacher
Mr. Fillis – LA Governor
Mr. Thomas – LA Governor
Mr. Morris- Community Governor
Mr. Monk - Parent Governor
Mr. Gray – Parent Governor
Mrs. Turner – Parent Governor
Ms. Scevity – Parent Governor
Mrs. Armitage-Smith – Parent Governor
Mrs. Reader – Staff Governor
Mrs. Thomson – Staff Governor
Mrs. Datlen - Staff Governor & Training Liaison
In Attendance: Mrs. Dulieu – Clerk
Mrs. Baker – Parent
Mr. Webb – Parent
Mrs. Sides – Parent
Signed: A. Arscott Date: 21/01/13
No apologies were received and the clerk confirmed that the meeting was quorate.2. Declaration of pecuniary interests
The declaration of pecuniary interests was explained for the benefit of the new governors and none were declared for this agenda.3. Minutes of last meeting
- The minutes of the meeting of 1st October were proposed, seconded and all agreed that they were a true record of the meeting.
4. Matters arising
- The action point list was updated with the following points explained –
1. The Clerk has remote access to the school system now and has begun loading files. Instructions for access will be distributed to governors in the New Year.
Action Point: Clerk (ongoing)
Action points 3, 4 and 10 are on this agenda.
6. No progress has been made on the subject of re-painting the white lines as there is some discussion on who has been responsible in the past – the school or HCC. Katie De Souza is looking into it in an attempt to get the car park and disabled bays, stop sign and zig zags outside the gates re -painted. Governors discussed possible ownership of this responsibility and the Headteacher agreed to contact HCC directly.
Action Point: Headteacher
7. No further information is available at present regarding the number of access permits issued by the Infant School although clear criteria are set and have been agreed by all three schools. The Chair will follow this up with the Infant School.
Action Point: Chair (ongoing)
8. Not all members of the Finance Committee have received their access permits. The Headteacher agreed to chase this with the school office.
Action Point: Headteacher (ongoing)5. Headteacher’s Report
Having sent the report out in advance of the meeting, the Headteacher checked that all governors had read it and invited questions after highlighting a few important issues:
The results published in this report show the standards and achievements for the Year 6 cohort that left in July with a snapshot of the current cohort.
A value-added result of 100% would gain a ‘satisfactory’ rating; Foxhills was at 99.6% in 2011 and 99% in 2012, putting the school in the lowest achieving 25% of schools nationally.
Behaviour and attendance are a key issue which prompted the Headteacher to revise the holiday request form. A formal letter has been sent to parents to explain the circumstances where absences will or will not be authorised with immediate effect. This new approach has been adopted in the schools’ cluster meeting which means that all schools in this area will take the same approach. This is an Ofsted focus area and attendance currently stands at 96.5%. The Headteacher agreed to circulate a copy of the letter and the form to governors.
Action Point: Headteacher
Governors informed the Headteacher that certificates had been awarded in the past for 100% attendance but were concerned that this could be unfair on children who had genuinely been absent for medical reasons. Mr. Shore explained that he intends to introduce a system to reward children over a range from 97-100%, giving bronze, silver, gold and platinum awards.
A governor commented that until this report, it was perceived that the school was doing well – better than average, in fact, with a ‘Good’ from Ofsted. Suddenly, a new picture is emerging and issues being raised – the Headteacher was asked to elaborate. Speaking only on the information available to him, Mr. Shore explained that certain concerns had been highlighted over the last two RAISEonline reports and that although it could be down to the cohort for that particular year, the value-added data didn’t support that. The teaching staff are working very hard and there is a wealth of expertise amongst them, but the school has areas to develop and the focus will be on curriculum development and children’s engagement in their learning.
A governor mentioned that staff were feeling disillusioned and that the figures quoted seem to differ to those held by teachers. In relation to the current cohort the figure quoted was as a result of an assessment carried out in September which was marked deliberately harshly to highlight individual needs for support. . Reassessment in November showed very different results, proving that interventions put in place were working and addressing weaknesses – especially in Year 6. The Headteacher explained that the results quoted in the report came from RAISEonline and were accurate and that he was in consultation with staff on a number of issues. However It was agreed that a meeting be arranged to look at differences between the current cohort figures and those held by the school staff to identify where possible inaccuracies have occurred in the tracking system as there is no question over the validity of the RAISEonline data.
Action Point: Headteacher
Writing is an issue nationally and has had the biggest impact on SATs results in this school too. Maths and Reading are both good, but the writing scores lower the results over all. Governors discussed assessment, progress and perception in more detail, including a comment from the Headteacher that a threshold of 60% of children not making the minimum progress of 2 levels between Key Stage 1 (KS1) and KS2 would trigger an Ofsted inspection.
Governors raised the question over KS1 entry level accuracy again, but were assured that children are re-assessed at the beginning of the autumn term using the same paper to give a baseline to start. This way significant differences are shown giving evidence, should the need arise, of those children who don’t make the expected progress. It was emphasised that the KS1 results are set in stone and that is what the school must work with, and it is on these that the VA score is based. The Headteacher assured governors that he is having discussions with the Infant School Head and moderation events are taking place with the infant feeder schools to ensure standardisation of marking. Small variances expected with a summer break between assessments are up to the Junior School to correct.
Governors asked if the Headteacher had sufficient resources to deal with the issues raised and if there was anything they could do to help him achieve his aims. Mr. Shore replied with thanks for their support, but funds are limited.
A governor offered to make a short presentation about the Higher Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) role at the next meeting which was gratefully accepted.
Action Point: AMD/Clerk
The Headteacher explained that the Ofsted Framework has a whole new criteria of expectations compared to the last inspection the school had, with more emphasis on Teaching and Learning. This is central to developments in school.
Flooding has been a serious problem on the school site recently with little support from HCC. Calls and emails are being logged with the Infant School Head trying too. To stop the flooding on the field will be a major undertaking as it is difficult to establish where any blockage is in the drainage system that may be the cause. A governor commented that residents have been told that it is the height of the water table that is the problem and that the drains are overwhelmed. It was noted though that some interesting wildlife was taking up residence in the pond on the field!
Governors were surprised to learn that insufficient fire alarms were installed in school, in key places, as it had been regularly inspected previously. This, along with the new magnetic fire doors promised, has been included in plans for improvement and given a higher priority than before.
Governors were interested in the new Parent Forum that has been formed and asked how often it would meet. The Headteacher is planning termly meetings to gain feedback on important issues such as uniform, attendance and behaviour and would use it to inform parents of new initiatives e.g. the reward system. A governor suggested it would make a useful platform for the Self Evaluation procedure and asked that they be involved in the Forum. Ann Arscott, Pippa Sides, Anne Marie Datlen and Debbie Turner volunteered to attend meetings which would likely be first thing in the morning, after children had been brought into school. There would be Terms of Reference and specific agendas set and would need representation across all year groups.
Governors thanked the Headteacher for his report.
6. Finance Committee Report
This confidential report was circulated with the agenda and there is a separate confidential minute for this item.
7. Staffing Committee Report
This item was moved to the end of meeting.
8. Curriculum Committee Report
Having sent the report with the agenda papers, the Chair of the Committee explained that they had met with Mr. Shore to establish expectations and focus of the group in the future. The new name of this committee, the Learning and Engagement Committee, explains the result! It is proposed that every Subject Leader write a report and give a short presentation to the committee to enable them to answer Ofsted questions on individual subjects.
The Headteacher is proposing to change the curriculum to make it more centred on the children, engaging and keeping them interested, embed independent learning schemes so that they don’t realise they are learning. Changing the curriculum and methods could mean achieving results for 90% of the children although the new curriculum being considered by the Government may impact this idea. If new legislation restricts the school with a limited, overly structured curriculum, it may be worth considering Academy status to enable free choice.
The new committee structure is to be discussed later in the meeting. Governors thanked the Chair of the Committee for his report.
9. Campus related matters
a) Access and parking
A recent quote was received with regard to installing a barrier at the school gate in the region of £20k which has been dismissed as an option. Governors discussed various options:
- closing the gate and displaying a sign for ‘authorised access only, please close the gate behind you’ requiring drivers to stop and open/close the gate themselves
- moving the gate nearer the road at a cost of around £4k
- the Yellow Bus Company will consider stopping on the road outside school if they continue to be hampered by inconsiderate parking
- Staff and parent parking given the insufficient space and faded white lines
It was decided that closing the gate at all times would be the most cost effective option and worth trying as other schools already do this. The access times currently displayed should be removed and a new access notice put on the closed gates. All governors agreed.
A governor was pleased to report that an email had been received from a parent acknowledging the work of the bus supervisors and thanking them for doing such a good job.
Action Point: Chair/Headteacher
b) Automatic barrier covered in (a) above.
c) Nature reserve
Georgianna Watson, Ecologist from New Forest Land Management visited the school nature reserve recently with Peter Frost of the Parish Council, who is also on the Management Board of the New Forest Park. They also saw the transitory pond on the school field with its exciting wildlife of a fairy shrimp and, more recently, a leech! Impressed with the nature reserve, Georgianna agreed to arrange for coppicing to be carried out as the area needs to be managed. Local forester, Dave Dibden, has agreed to do it in the New Year, when the trees are dormant, and this can involve the school children and their parents. There was no mention of a charge for this service as such, except a payment of £20 to the volunteers to cover their travel costs. Ann Arscott agreed to check on any further charges.
Action Point: Chair
Other land management ideas were discussed, including the introduction of sheep to the site but this has other implications that it was felt the school is not quite ready for at this time. There are two Ash trees by the pond, a Rum Cherry tree (not native) and the Millennium Tree needs the growth around it to be cleared. The biggest issue is access at the moment due to the mud; even with the millennium grant funded raised path, walking is difficult in the reserve. Gill Reader will be in touch with Georgianna over this long-term project and commented that it was encouraging that they were so interested.
d) A confidential matter was discussed and there is a separate confidential minute for this item.
10. To approve policies for:
All documents were circulated with the agenda in advance of the meeting which governors confirmed they had received and read.
a) Standing orders for the Governing Body (GB)
To formalise current working practice, governors discussed what should and shouldn’t be included and agreed the format. The Headteacher suggested that governors be involved in all appointments and that FGB meetings would be set a year in advance. With these changes, the document would be amended and brought to the next meeting for adoption.
Action Point: Chair/Clerk
b) Charging and Remissions for school activities
This policy must be in place for requests to parents for contributions towards school trips and activities. The policy was adopted with all in agreement.
c) Governors’ Expenses
A comprehensive policy to cover expenses incurred by travel/childcare for training events and meetings as no person should be precluded from being a governor by financial constraints. All claims must be approved by the Chair before they are incurred to a maximum of £25 per event. The policy has been in place for four years and was adopted without change. All agreed.
d) School Lettings
Although the school facilities are let less frequently now, the policy must be in place to ensure that anyone wishing to book, no matter what they are doing, must prove that they have valid public liability insurance before entering into any hire agreement. This policy applies to everyone, including the Kidz Club, Karate etc. If the site manager is unable to attend, no booking is made. The policy will be updated and brought to the next meeting for adoption. A governor suggested that the school’s public liability insurance certificate should also be on display. This will be checked and reported to the next meeting.
Action Point: Chair/Clerk
e) Complaints about the Curriculum and Related Matters
The policy has been amended to take account of the change in legislation that removes the Local Authority appeal level from the complaints process. Any complaint not resolved by the school must now be passed to the Secretary of State for Education. This policy was unanimously adopted and must be published on the school website.
f) Conduct of the members of the GB
A self-explanatory policy that was adopted without change.
6.35pm Pam Armitage-Smith left the meeting having been presented with flowers and thanks for her term as Parent Governor which ends on 31st December.
11. To consider restructuring the GB
The proposal to reconstitute the Governing Body was suggested by the Chair because of the difficulties in filling the three Community Governor vacancies and the potential loss of valuable, active members at the end of their terms of office. Current governors offer a range of skills and, fortunately, financial expertise but the Body needs to have the freedom to recruit people with specific skills from outside too. A reconstitution would offer the following governor structure:
1x Local Authority Governor – Ann Arscott
5x Parent Governors – Debbie Turner, Alan Gray, Jo Baker, Philippa Sides and Jeremy Webb
1x Staff Governor – Mandy Thomson
7x Co-opted Governors,
(inc 3 staff) – Gill Reader, Anne Marie Datlen, Wendy Scevity, Don Monk, Gordon Fillis, John Morris and Mike Thomas
Headteacher Andrew Shore
There should be no more than a third of the GB made up of staff or parents and with full agreement minuted to this proposed change, a new instrument of governance would be issued and the change implemented for the 14th January 2013. The reconstitution was proposed, seconded and all agreed with none against and no abstentions. The Chair will contact Governor Services to inform them of this agreement.
Action Point: Chair
6.45pm John Morris left the meeting
12. To consider a revised committee structure
13. To appoint governors to committees
14. Governor training
15. Any Other Business
Due to the unexpected duration of the meeting and some governors being time-limited, the Clerk suggested that the remaining agenda items of 12-15 be deferred to the next meeting as item 7 was essential and needed to be quorate. Governors agreed. The Chair thanked the new Parent Governors for attending, reminding them that all GB business remains confidential until the minutes are made public after the next meeting; they left the meeting at 6.48pm.
7. Staffing Committee Report
This item was moved to the end of this meeting due to its confidential nature and there is a separate confidential minute for this item.
The Chair thanked governors for their patience and apologised for the delay. The meeting ended at 7.05pm.
Dates of next meetings:
Monday 21st January – 7-9pm
Tuesday 19th March – 4.30-6.30pm (Mr. Thomas has given his apologies for this date)
Monday 20th May – 7-9pm
Tuesday 9th July – 4.30-6.30pm
The date for the WGBT will be booked for some time in the Spring term.