Meeting 1 - 6th October 2014
Present: Mrs. Arscott – Chair
Mr. Shore – Headteacher
Mrs. Thomson – Staff Governor
Mrs. Datlen - Co-opted & Training Liaison Governor
Mr. Monk - Co-opted Governor
Mr. Fillis – Co-opted Governor
Mr. Thomas – Co-opted Governor
Ms. Scevity – Co-opted Governor
Dr. McKechnie - Co-opted Governor
Mrs. Baker – Parent Governor
Mrs. Thornley - Parent Governor
Mr. Webb – Parent Governor
Mrs. Sides – Parent Governor
In Attendance: Mrs. Dulieu – Clerk
Signed: A. Arscott Date: 02/12/14
The Chair and governors congratulated Mrs. Sides on gaining a First in her Master’s Degree.
No apologies were received. The clerk confirmed that the meeting was quorate.
2. Declaration of pecuniary interests
New forms were distributed and returned to the clerk at the meeting.
3. Minutes of last meeting, 8th July 2014
The main and confidential minutes of 8th July 2014 were proposed, seconded and all agreed that they were a true record of the meeting.
7.03pm Mr. Thomas and Mr. Fillis arrived
4. Matters arising
a) The action point list was updated. See attached.
5. Headteacher’s verbal report
2014 Year 6 outcomes: There are a number of measures used to judge achievement. The percentage of children achieving L4 and L5 in the individual subjects of Reading, Writing and Maths are as follows:
Level 4: Rd (90%), Wr (85%), Ma (90%) and Level 5: Rd (64%), Wr (34%), Ma (40%)
These represent above the 2013 National standards except Maths, where it is in line. Reading was +20% above. It is anticipated that the Value Added results due in November will be fairly healthy this year. The combined result for Reading, Writing and Maths was estimated to be between 75-80% last spring; they achieved 79% - a huge improvement on two years ago.
Measuring progress, the percentage of children that made 2 and 3 whole levels of progress are:
2+ levels: Rd (91%), Wr (91%), Ma (90%) and 3 levels: Rd (34%), Wr (27%), Ma (17%) This is above National standards (2013) except Maths, which is below. The Headteacher is very pleased with these outcomes and has met with the Data Group recently. It is noted that currently, results are on track for a combined result of 80%. There are progress issues in the current Years 5 and 6, especially in the Pupil Premium cohort. Interventions are being reviewed. The gap being inherited from KS1 is still too wide and discussions are being held with the Infant School for this to be rectified.
Next steps: Additional support for the current Year 5 and 6 groups; development of the new assessment format following the abolishment of levels and continuance to support PP children’s progress.
Teaching and Learning: Mr. Shore is pleased with the way teaching is developing across the school, in line with the EPIC approach to learning. The Marking/ Feedback policy has been reviewed, to lessen the amount of ‘distance marking’ that takes place as research shows that instant feedback is far more beneficial than taking books home and marking, and also to assist the teachers with their workload – there is an increased amount of writing taking place now; the Y6 children have almost completed half a book and it is not yet half term!
“Innovated” teaching is being developed - that is, using assessment to respond to the needs of the children. The term “Assessment for Learning” (AfL) is used regularly in governor meetings. This is something that is widely written about. It is also a much misused statement; teachers often say (not necessarily in this school, but certainly during interviews) that they “do” AfL. AfL is not a toolkit. It is an approach to learning; it is everything that a teacher does - so the teacher uses ‘strategies’ to assess children’s understanding/ capabilities etc. one such strategy teachers are using now is ‘no hands up’. Every child is expected to have an answer – there is a fail-safe for the children: phone a friend or ask the audience. High expectations develop independence and ensure that children are active partners in their learning.
By adopting a ‘coaching,’ non-judgemental approach to lesson observations, and identifying what is facilitated learning and what held learning back, should open a much more honest and open dialogue between staff. The impact of this will need to be reported to governors and it is uncertain how this can be done at this stage. This may be an opportunity for governors to review the information they expect to receive too.
A governor asked does this not tie into the Teacher’s appraisal anyway. Yes, it is a part of the process. The next challenge is to move away from quantitative measures, which makes it difficult to report. At the last assessment, 92% of teaching was a minimum of ‘Good’ but that’s just a statistic.
Curriculum: During the introduction of the integrated Curriculum, subject leadership was re-organised so that there was an overall team leading the development. Now that Projects are more established, the school has moved back to having individual subject leaders:
- English/Literacy – Steph Mander
- Mathematics: Matt Goodchild
- Science: Mandy Thomson
- History/Geography: Ruth Easton
- Sport/ PE & Games: Shauna Bell
- Music/Art/D&T: Jane Kelly
- Computing: Hayley Sired
- RE: Olivia Moore/Jenny Bailey
- RRR: Helena Callister
- Modern Languages: Natalie Hogbourne
Now in the second cycle of projects, they are being honed - re-written, adapted or replaced following the first year’s experiences. The INSET day in September was used to share changes in the SEN code of practice, which will have an impact on current teaching methods. Teachers are now totally responsible for the progress and attainment of all children, even those in their class who may have a separate curriculum, support or intervention programme. The role of the SENCo has changed too – they now are expected to be Teaching and Learning experts, though continue to seek out and liaise with external/ additional support and complete the Education and HealthCare (EHC) plans. The SENCo will support the teachers in order to ‘unlock’ a child’s learning.
Exclusions: One child is currently subject to a managed moved. The school is working closely with the LA support team (Clifford Centre) to ensure that the child is supported to the best possible standard. A child has been subject to an incoming managed move.
Attendance at the end of last year was 96.4% - a fantastic achievement and above National standard. This year’s goal is set for 97% and, with attainment on the rise, this is another standard in which the school can definitely excel. However, there are still a number of parents who take children out of school during term. These are marked as unauthorised. Communication will be continued with these families about the importance of regular attendance and imposing fines seen as a very last resort.
Leadership: Phase Leaders will lead pupil progress check meetings with teachers from now and the SEF and SDP reviews are under way.
Finance: The three year plan is looking healthy and the Finance Manager is doing a great job with budget management and finance reviews. The library needs more investment and the focus will be on outdoor learning this year.
Personnel: confidential information was shared, and there is a separate, confidential minute for this item.
Premises: The lower school classrooms had a bit of a make-over during the summer. The Probation Service proved to be less than reliable than hoped and the Headteacher would personally like to thank John (Site Manager), his wife (who made curtains) and other staff who mucked in over the summer to complete the painting. It really does look fantastic! The playground equipment is looking very tired and funds will be invested in this over the coming year.
A neighbour created a personal gateway into school site. Following advice and guidance from HCC Legal Services, this has been blocked off.
Partnerships with parents and the wider community: A new Walking Bus service will soon commence from Cocklydown Lane, Ashurst Bridge. This will be run on each Wednesday morning by Jessica Niziolek (LSA). If any Governors would like to join in for a short 800m walk at 8:10am, please let the Headteacher know. The start date will be confirmed nearer the time. A governor asked if this will be an open ‘bus.’ No – bookings have to be made for places to ensure correct adult supervision etc. The risk assessments have been carried out; volunteers must be trained and umbrellas will be provided to those taking part. It is hoped that this will prove popular as parents will be able to drop their children off at 8.15am, away from school; children will benefit from a little exercise, will be on time into school and initially, it’s a free service. Thanks to Mrs. Datlen, who has been involved in much of the preparation work for this and to Ms Scevity, who has offered to join in. This will start at one morning a week but may increase if it proves successful.
£500 has been donated to the school following closure of the Le Havre fund. Mike Espezel, the previous headteacher, was one of the Operation Le Havre organisers and the committee agreed remaining funds should be distributed between the three schools whose headteachers were involved in this project.. It has been specifically allocated to enhance the teaching of languages in the school. Discussions with Natalie Hogbourne are currently taking place on how best to use this money (e.g. books or software).
FJSA are to be re-branded as Friends OF Foxhills. Chris Bristow continues to work tirelessly with the team and they have many exciting events planned. Fireworks will be the usual spectacular event.
Wider aspects of the school: Years 3 and 4 hosted a local author, Simon Chadwick, this term – the outcome was for children to write their own woodland stories that could inspire Simon in his next book. Year 6 had the Paralympian, Aaron Phipps, to inspire children in biographical writing. Year 5 will be having their residential to Marwell Activity Centre last week of half term. To realign the trips and residentials with the curriculum changes, it was hoped to have a residential for the current Year 4s, but there was not enough interest from parents.
Following the success of half day closure at end of last term, the Headteacher requested that it be made a regular feature. Just one parent questioned the decision last year and there was no further query following the Headteacher’s response. Further decoration is required, as is a deep clean and a potential reorganisation to accommodate a fourth class in Year 3. It is very much appreciated that staff give a lot of their own time throughout the year and the work/life balance should also be considered and the half day woven into the school culture. The infant school considered closing last year and may decide to join the picnic and half day closure at some stage, but they have organised their Year 2 leavers’ event for the last day of term. Governors discussed whether this should be agreed annually or a blanket agreement for the future and decided to approve the closure for 2015 and review this annually for now.
A governor asked if there was going to be an open day event for current Year 2 parents. The annual open evening takes place in the summer term, along with a new parents’ information evening and individual tours have taken place recently, which have proved successful. An open day has been offered in the past, with very little uptake - probably because the school’s main intake is from Foxhills Infant - and the personal tours are the preferred option for now. It was agreed that this should be promoted more effectively and could be included on the school website.
A governor reported that there were rumours circulating about a court case. The Chair intervened, confirming that there had been a recent case, the complaint was not upheld by the court and no further discussion could take place as the complainant has the right of appeal. Governors must remain unaware of any details if they are to remain impartial.
The Headteacher was thanked for his report.
6. Presentation on C.L.E.A.R
The last two years have seen many new initiatives introduced, but if asked, ‘what is Foxhills all about?’ the answer has always been ‘We Care’ which is a very broad statement. A recent gathering of thoughts from the staff on the vision, aims and values brought many good ideas forward that have been collated into the following:
Care: We treat each other and property with respect.
We keep ourselves safe and healthy.
Learn: We understand that we can improve ourselves.
We are always prepared to face new challenges.
Enjoy: We like coming to school!
Our learning is engaging and interesting.
Achieve: We set high expectations of ourselves, always give our best and take pride in all we do.
We recognise and celebrate all success.
Reflect: We learn how to do things better next time.
We know how to improve ourselves.
This covers all aspects of the school’s vision and aims and all initiatives link in to one or more of each of these five key points. The Headteacher had prepared a document for distribution to governors which will be emailed with the minutes. It was stressed that this is still in the developmental stage and any comments from governors would be welcomed.
Governors discussed changes to the school logo and the impact on parents to buy new school jumpers. It was agreed that the school logo would be reviewed, with any changes to clothing phased in and a coloured Venn diagram be used on school headed paper. Children will be consulted on possible designs and governors’ suggestions and involvement invited.
ACTION: Headteacher and all governors
7. Committee membership for 2014/15
The current committee member list was distributed with the agenda papers and governors asked if they wished to make any changes for this year. Changes were made as follows:
Pupil Premium Committee: Ms Scevity joined
Health & Safety Committee: Will be reporting to the F&R committee regularly from this term and was joined by Mrs. Thomson and Dr. McKechnie. Mrs. Datlen will organise a meeting date to enable reporting to the next F&R due on 14th November.
ACTION: Mrs. Datlen
8. To adopt the Manuals of Personnel and Financial Management and Procedure
This annual standing agenda item is in place to ensure that these L.A. documents, negotiated with the unions, are regularly adopted. They contain all the procedures and guidance covering all processes in school. The adoption of these manuals was proposed, seconded and all agreed, with none against and no abstentions.
9. To adopt the updated Governors’ Code of Conduct
A further document that is reviewed and adopted annually was circulated with the agenda pack as a new version has been made available from the National Governors’ Association (NGA) which includes the 7 Nolan Principles. Governors were asked if they would prefer the version that individuals sign, or one without signatures. After a long discussion, governors decided that if it was agreed and adopted there would be no need for individuals to sign. A governor asked that the final sentence be changed to ‘never knowingly embarrass the school’ rather than just ‘never’ as it is possible to say or do something without intending to cause embarrassment. With this amendment, a vote was cast and all present agreed to abide by the Code and adopt it without individuals signing. All were in favour, with none against and no abstentions.
10. To confirm the GB’s Standing Orders
Standing Orders are the ‘Terms of Reference’ that pertain to the FGB and were circulated with the agenda pack. With no need to amend the content this year, its adoption was proposed, seconded and all agreed, with none against and no abstentions.
11. Review of GB work and objectives for 2014/15
This document, sent out with the agenda, shows just how much work has been and continues to go on. The Chair asked for comments or additions. A governor commented that it was a good piece of work and a useful document. The CLA will deal with item 4 and safeguarding, training and the TLG will be discussed under item 13.
12. Procedures for filling GB vacancies
There are vacancies for one Parent and one Co-Opted governor. Governors briefly discussed the option of reconstituting and decided that the current format suits the size of school and to reduce numbers would be detrimental to efficiency. It was also agreed that the co-opted vacancy should be filled by someone outside of the school, if possible, even though it was previously held by a member of staff. There are too many restrictions on staff joining committees and it would be preferable to have a new perspective on the team. The PG vacancy will be filled by the usual election process, which the clerk will instigate.
It was suggested that the new Vicar of Colbury might be interested and the Chair will approach him in due course. ACTION: Chair of Governors
13. Governor Training and skills gaps
The TLG thanked governors for attending their courses and encouraged all to continue booking them. Should anyone need further information on any course listed in the training booklet, they are welcome to contact Mrs. Datlen, who will answer any queries.
It is part of the role of TLG to plan training for governors, so in order to inform her of training skills acquired and those needed, a skills audit will be distributed. The NGA version is user-friendly and non-invasive so will be emailed out for completion and return as soon as possible.
Another governor is required to be a Safer Recruitment Governor as there are two in place at present and another would be good practice for succession. Mrs. Thornley volunteered and was thanked. Mrs. Datlen will organise the training.
ACTION: Mrs. Datlen
Unfortunately, nobody was able to attend the recent Forum, but any governor may attend and all agreed that more local venues were preferable. It is planned that the school will be used as a training location next year.
WGBT will be on assessment next summer. These training sessions have been very useful and have put the GB ahead of others on a number of subjects.
14. Academy status
Mr. Monk, Mr. Thomas and Mrs. Arscott met with Mr. Shore at the end of the summer term to discuss the pros and cons of this status, the notes from which were distributed with the agenda pack. It was clear that there is no benefit to the school to convert at this time. Governors were asked to formalise this decision or comment otherwise. Following a short discussion, the decision not to move to Academy Status at this stage was proposed, seconded and all agreed with none against and no abstentions.
15. Report on Safeguarding reference CRB checks
The Chair is required to check this register annually as part of her responsibilities as Safeguarding Governor. The summary of her recent audit with Claire Cooper, in the school office, was included in the agenda pack and Mrs. Arscott was satisfied with the result. There is one CRB outstanding, for a member of the ancillary staff, who has no passport or driving licence. Guidance is being sought from the LA CRB team and is in hand. There are eight members of staff who were employed before CRBs were introduced. A governor asked if the school was vulnerable should an adverse situation arise involving one of these staff members. It was noted that those employees had been List 99 checked (the process available before full CRBs) and that Ofsted had been happy with the programme. Another governor responded that their workplace had a form for this situation, where staff were asked to complete a form annually, declaring any spent or unspent convictions. The Headteacher thought this was a good idea and asked for a copy of the form to be sent to him. The governor agreed.
ACTION: Mrs. Thornley
16. Approve school visits for 2014/15
Governors are required to approve off site visits annually. All visits are carefully checked and risk assessments carried out before they take place by the organising member of staff. Governors discussed the process and asked questions regarding:
- staff ratio to children
- the general rule on ratios is 1 adult:8 children, although this is only a guide and will change, depending on the activity
- what happens if there aren’t enough parent volunteers to attend?
- staff would be diverted should there be insufficient adults – but this has not been necessary so far
- are ratio for residentials different?
- residential trips will have staff on site who will contribute to the ratio during the day and are included in the risk assessment
- what risk assessments are carried out?
- the member of staff organising the trip will visit the site in advance and complete a risk assessment whilst there. There are also standing LA risk assessments for certain activities.
Governors asked what visits were booked for this academic year. A Year 5 residential trip to Marwell Activity Centre is taking place on 20th October for three days. A governor asked if the whole group is going. Around two thirds of the year group are involved, including high risk individuals who will be day visitors and are not staying. It was a good price and is aimed at outdoor orientated team building.
A trip to France is planned for Year 6 for three days next summer. By reducing the price, it is hoped to make the trip more inclusive. It is near Boulogne and the children will visit a cheese farm, chocolate factory and Nausicaá Sea Centre. The plan is to immerse the children in the culture and language. A governor asked how much the trips cost and how many children were going. This information will be added to the minutes as it was not available at the meeting: 60 pupils are going on the French trip, which costs £275 per person. 69 pupils are going to Marwell at a cost of £100 each, plus the two day trippers who are paying £36 and £40 for their activities.
ACTION: Mr. Shore
Not all the day trips have been planned or booked just yet as the projects are still being mapped out and may change. A governor commented that in this case, governors are not approving the visits, but agreeing to visits taking place as they are confident that the appropriate checks are being done so that trips can take place safely. The Headteacher confirmed that the LA protocol is carefully followed and that visits are only planned if relevant to the scheme of work. The process followed for visits can be shared with governors and will be emailed with the minutes.
ACTION: Mr. Shore/Clerk
The CLA Committee will look at purpose and impact of those visits once they are known, as the F&R Committee will look at Value for Money and whether the costs were covered. The Headteacher agreed to send a list of visits to the Chairs of the Committees, once they are agreed, so that they can be looked at in more detail.
On the basis that: governors agree to approve visits taking place in the knowledge that the relevant checks and insurances have been completed, all agreed with none against and no abstentions.
17. Any other business
a) Thanks to the governors who helped at the recent fete, which went well and enjoyed good weather.
b) It was noted that a group calling itself Keep Ashurst Green (KAGG) had a stall at the fete, and stated that two of its objectives were to support the local schools to attain their safer schools’ objectives and to assist in identifying and developing solutions and alternatives to ease the current traffic and parking situation. They had not contacted the schools to discuss this. The Chair and another governor asked the KAGG stall holders how they proposed to achieve this, however it was evident that, although opposed to the BM project they did not have any viable alternative proposal for a safe pedestrian and cycling route. The Chair stressed to the KAGG representatives that the schools would be pleased to hear of any workable proposal emanating from the group, and confirmed this by letter. The main points in KAGG’s reply were that the walking bus, new footpath by the school drive, pupil and parent education, along with a possible walking bus from Colbury Hall, should help to ease the traffic and safe access problems. (The school drive footpath is to improve internal pedestrian management, the West Totton walking bus will initially operate one morning a week only, and Colbury Hall is not a suitable starting point due to the need to cross the A35, furthermore, we do not have permission to use it). KAGG further stated they wished to evaluate the impact of these measures, to enable them to identify how the school should proceed to resolve its traffic and safe access problems, and asked the school to consider refraining from supporting the BM project until such time as KAGG had completed its evaluation. The letter was sent to the Chair, and to the HTs of both schools who collectively replied, re-iterating the schools’ reasons for supporting the BM project and stating that they would continue to do so unless an acceptable alternative proposal was tabled. They also confirmed that if KAGG could provide the schools with such a proposal for providing safe cycle and pedestrian access they would be pleased to discuss it with them. To date, no such proposal has been received.
Governors discussed the situation and one was concerned that the group were claiming to be working with the school without first contacting them. It was also noted that two thirds of pupils come from West Totton, and access and safety from this area, and for those pupils whose parents park anywhere to the east of the school will be greatly enhanced by this project.
c) A governor reported that the hedge on the pathway by the barriers outside of the school is overgrown and dangerous as it is blocking access for pedestrians. The Headteacher will ask HCC for guidance as the hedge is not school property and overhangs the main pavement rather than the school path.
ACTION: Mr. Shore
Adding to the danger of a narrowed path, a governor was concerned that cars continue to pull up on the zig zag lines to drop off and collect children. Could registration numbers of regular offenders be collected and passed to the police? As it’s a public highway, the school has no jurisdiction over road users but is already in consultation with HCC on this matter. Governors discussed options and agreed that number plates could be noted and published in the newsletter if necessary.
d) John, the Site Supervisor, has re-painted some of the white lines in the school car park but the yellow boxes need to be refreshed. Claire Cooper is negotiating with the Infant School for cost sharing as all the lines need to be re-done. It was also noted that the policy for access permits should be reviewed, following advice from the Legal Department. This states that all access can be restricted except for blue badge holders; a discussion for the next FGB.
f) Woodland Archaeological Survey: The chair reported that an NFNP archaeologist had contacted her to ask if the schools would be agreeable to a survey being carried out in their woods, largely to verify data from LIDAR maps of the area. He will carry out a preliminary visit on 10th October, and the schools hope any subsequent work can be incorporated into future projects for the children.
g) Licensing of the new Vicar of Colbury: The Chair and Headteacher have been invited to this ceremony on October 22nd. Mrs. Datlen will attend in Mr. Shore’s place.
Thanking all for attending, the meeting ended at 9.20pm.
Next meeting dates:
Tuesday 2nd December 2014, Monday 19th January 2015, Tuesday 17th March, Monday 18th May and Tuesday 7th July.
Meetings on Mondays run from 7-9pm and Tuesdays, 4.30-6.30pm.