Meeting 2 - 1st December 2015
Minutes of the Full Governing Body
FOXHILLS JUNIOR SCHOOL
Held on Tuesday 1st December 2015 - commenced 4:30pm
Present: Mrs. Arscott – Local Authority Governor and Chair
Mr. Shore – Headteacher
Mrs. Thomson – Staff Governor
Mr. Monk - Co-opted Governor
Mrs. Datlen - Co-opted plus Development and Training Governor
Ms. Scevity – Co-opted Governor
Revd. Holley – Co-opted Governor
Mr. Marchetti – Co-opted Governor
Mr. White – Co-opted Governor
Dr. Wiley – Co-opted Governor
Mrs. Thornley – Co-opted Governor
Apologies: Mr. Taylor – Parent Governor
Mrs. Baker – Parent Governor
Mr. Fillis – Co-opted Governor
In Attendance: Mrs. Dulieu – Clerk
Signed: A. Arscott Date: 01/02/16
1. Welcome to new governors
The meeting began with a presentation and congratulations to Mrs. Thomson, who was awarded a certificate and Hampshire Hog badge in recognition of twelve years’ service. It was explained that the Don Allen awards were made to mark each four years’ service and the hog badges differ in colour for each length of time served.
New governors, Mr. Marchetti, Mr. White and Dr. Wiley were welcomed and brief introductions made. Dr. Wiley had to briefly leave the room to take a call.
The Chair explained the protocol of meetings; minutes remained confidential until approved at the next meeting, the Governor Code of Conduct, the corporate decision and finally, expenses could be claimed via a form from the school office.
4:34pm Dr. Wiley returned
Were received and accepted from Mr. Taylor, Mr. Fillis and Mrs. Baker. Ms Scevity would arrive late as she was in cookery club until 4:30. The clerk confirmed that the meeting was quorate.
3. Declaration of pecuniary interests
None were declared. This is a standing agenda item for all meetings and applies to any personal or business interest (in an organisation that has dealings with the school) that may affect their view on any item to be discussed on the agenda.
4. Minutes of last meeting, 5th October 2015
The minutes of the last meeting were proposed, seconded and all agreed that they were a true record. Two typos were identified by a governor and amended by the clerk. – Item 6 from ‘he would not be represent,’ to ‘he would not be representing’ and a spelling mistake of ‘reportng’ to ‘reporting,’ at the bottom of page 4.
5. Matters arising
a) The action point list was updated, with the following noted:
1. The hedges have been cut and the item closed by HCC but the main concern, the hedge overhanging the pavement at the end of the school drive remains a problem. Mrs. Arscott has flagged it up again. Ongoing
6. Keith Mans has been approached regarding funding for a pathway across Barker Mill land. Now that the land is being sold to a developer, it is unlikely to be a consideration included in any new building. The request has been passed to Peter Colenutt, School Property Improvement, at HCC. Ongoing
6. Presentation on determination of the school budget
Mr. Monk presented governors with a list of percentage figures and asked them to guess what they represented, then proceeded to explain what should be understood when considering the budget at Finance meetings.
- 77% of the budget is spent on staff salary costs. This is where NQTs salaries are more attractive as they are lower, although that is not always the solution to replacing experienced staff
- 8.4% is spent on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with HCC for the provision. This is considered essential as they have an economy of scale and offer high security to the school premises/finances – taking the risk out of situations. Part of the Committee’s responsibility is to consider value for money (VfM) and the SLAs that don’t meet requirements are being reviewed and replaced by a locally sourced service. Mr. Monk briefly explained the purpose of SLAs
- 5.6% represents premises costs
- 4.8% is spent on resources, which are all broken down in the budget so that individual areas can be drilled down to specific costs. They are presented in groups (cost centres)
This shows that of the £1.3million budget, 95.8% is already accounted for, leaving little discretionary spend available with an obvious limit on what can be done. With careful management, a significant impact can be made on spending and free up cash available to spend in school.
How the school gets its budget: Budget income is generated by the NoR at a given time in the year (usually January) and is a fixed amount per pupil. Staff salary increases set by the Government are beyond the school’s control, but must be covered by the budget. A class budget has been introduced so that the children are made aware that everything they use has a cost.
Budget planning and the financial cycle: The cycle of the budget is April to March whereas the school runs from September to July. This causes discrepancies of time although known bill cycles etc. are budgeted for.
Budget monitoring and control: The School’s Financial Value Standard (SFVS) is an annual audit which judges the school/governors’ competency in managing its finances, based on evidence collected. It is an audit style document to show that due process has been followed and not an audit of the school. Day to day checks are completed by the Finance Officer, Claire Cooper and the Headteacher. HCC’s Finance Dept. has their own checks in place that monitor spending in school. Governors are not responsible for the accountancy but understanding that it has been used appropriately and discrepancies questioned where necessary. The benchmarking process compares the school’s finances against other schools in the area as well as nationally. This is reviewed in the January committee meeting. Although governors can look at individual costs, it is up to the Headteacher to manage the staff balance of NQTs and experienced people and distribution or management of resources.
5:02pm Ms Scevity arrived
A governor asked if HCC Financial Services looks at everything in the school system. Yes, there is an accountancy check in place. A governor asked how staff pay rises were planned for. Known or expected rises due to performance management are budgeted in to the three-year forecast but Government pay increases are not; although they have given extra funding on occasion, they are one-off and not regular. This also applies to increases in National Insurance contributions and pensions e.g. last year’s 1% rise.
Terms of Reference: To put all of this into context, the committee’s ToR (which have been reviewed and offered for adoption at this meeting) were explained point by point.
5:10pm Mr. Shore left the meeting
The Headteacher has a degree of flexibility to enable him to manage the finances effectively by his delegated authority, which should be reviewed annually.
5:12pm Mr. Shore returned
A governor asked the Headteacher if £10k was sufficient to cover the needs of the school. It has been more than enough until now and generally, any large expenditure, even if it is less than the £10k, is discussed with the Finance Committee at the planning stage. It did give him scope to transfer an excess of £4.5k in IT to cover the new carpets but this would be picked up in a variance in budget at the next meeting, if it hadn’t been reported. Delegated authority will remain at £10k.
Governors discussed whether more should be made of school lettings but this has been recently raised by the committee, who decided that much is made of lettings to benefit the children. Although more money could be generated by increasing the small charge for hiring the premises, it was felt that clubs would be less inclined to use the facilities therefore reducing opportunities for the pupils.
Mr. Monk explained that the Pay Committee report to the Finance and Resources team that due process has been followed. There is no opportunity to approve individual awards as that is not the remit of those committees. A governor asked if there was any detail of fundraising included in the budget, e.g. income generated by the PTA. They hold a separate account so that is not monitored by either governors or the school although where they pay for a specific item that funding is shown as an income on the detailed budget report. Governors decided that point B, delegated authority, should be re-worded and clarified, as it sounded like the Headteacher had the authority to overspend by that amount on each cost centre at present. This would be agreed at the next F&R meeting in January but with this amendment, the Terms of Reference were proposed, seconded and all agreed that they be adopted. The clerk will add an agenda item for January.
Governors thanked Mr. Monk for his clear explanation.
7. Report from Finance and Resources Committee
The main points of the minutes, which were included in the agenda pack, were highlighted to governors as follows:
- Still no confirmation of numbers for September 2016 as yet. The cut off is in January
- Is the school full at the moment?
- In Years 3 and 4, yes and around 7 spaces in Years 5 and 6
- The Health and Safety Committee has been brought under F&R remit
- PP and VfM remain focus areas along with the use and impact of the sports funding
- There was no significant variation in the budget figures although, due to a new system changeover, the data was not as detailed as usual. The only variance was for Supply Teachers and reasons are known for this
The budget approved stands at:
Amount in words
One million, three hundred and thirty eight thousand, eight hundred and ninety four pounds
Year to date spend:
Seven hundred and eighty three thousand and fourteen pounds
Year to date surplus:
Five hundred and fifty five thousand, eight hundred and eighty pounds
Ninety five thousand, one hundred and thirty seven pounds
Year to date surplus:
Six hundred and fifty one thousand and seventeen pounds
Projections predict that the surplus will be eroded by £10k and 6k in the next two years but the school remains in a strong position. A governor asked why there was a difference in income shown on the projected figures. Mr. Monk will check that with Mrs. Cooper and report back.
ACTION: Mr. Monk
A governor asked if there was any progress on the payment due from the Infant School for the new path. They have agreed to pay it, the process and audit trail remains in question but it is likely that the school will raise and invoice for the amount owed.
Mr. Monk was thanked for his report.
8. Report from Children’s Learning and Achievement Committee
The minutes of the last meeting were distributed with the agenda papers, along with a copy of the Subject Leader reports. A governor commented that the subject reports were very detailed, interesting and worthwhile. A couple of reports are still to be completed as, for example, the Geography lead was away when the reports were compiled. Mrs. Thorney was appointed Chair as Mr. Taylor had stepped down and spoke of how the reports gave a good understanding of how the subjects are delivered. The Committee had decided to go ahead with Link Governors for the main subjects, Maths and Literacy, although the role was still to be defined and remit agreed with the Headteacher. A learning walk has been arranged for 13th January 2016, 9:00-10:30 (approx.), with a focus on PP support in class. Governors will have the opportunity to ask any questions in this informal monitoring session. All governors are welcome but were asked to reply to the clerk to confirm their attendance.
5:37pm Mr. Shore left the meeting
A governor asked if Mr. Marchetti should be included as a Safeguarding Governor. He is trained in Safer Recruitment and passed a copy of this confirmation to the clerk for filing in school. Mrs. Arscott will attend a refresher course on Safer Recruitment next week.
5:38pm Mr. Shore returned
A governor thought that it had been agreed that one or two governors should be appointed as Link Governors. It was briefly discussed at the CLA meeting but as Mr. Taylor was unable to attend and wasn’t at this meeting either, Dr. Wiley will continue as Maths Link but keep the option open to include another at a later date. A governor asked if a Science Link should be established. Another item briefly discussed at the CLA, it was decided to delay any appointment until a new Subject Leader is appointed, as Mrs. Thomson will be leaving the school to take up a position at Orchard School. Sad news but governors congratulated Mrs. Thomson and wish her well.
Having been impressed with the subject reports, and having no Link for any but Maths and Literacy, governors look forward to seeing how other subjects are delivered e.g. French within a project.
A governor pointed out that on item 7 of the minutes, it was stated that the only flag for concern in the RAISE data was for girls’ writing. This should read ‘the only unexpected flag,’ as other points were discussed at the time. The clerk will amend the minutes accordingly, before the next meeting.
Governors were asked if the content of the subject reports was sufficient. A governor stated that it would be useful to see a judgement against the subjects on how well it is being delivered. This information was originally included by the teachers but the Headteacher explained that there was no measure to back up any judgement at present. He further explained how the curriculum has changed and the removal of the old ‘levels’ system, which has been replaced by ‘steps’ now. Even without a measure in place, there are no major concerns on how subjects are being integrated and progress will be checked within the school, until a national system is introduced. Governors were concerned that the old system was abolished without a replacement but understood that every school in the country is in the same situation. It was also noted that although there are many places to check progress and attainment in Maths and Literacy, other subjects have never been measured to the same degree (with the exception of Science – these tests were abolished in 2010). Teachers will be attending the Science and Geography conferences in the next few weeks. This may give more guidance on how to assess individual subjects.
Leaders use their professional judgement to ensure that the Curriculum is taught in each year group, planning is in place and evidence of this will be found in the children’s books.
Governors agreed that they need a discussion on what they need to understand as a Link Governor. Mr. Shore will produce a document on the remit.
Mrs. Arscott, Mrs Baker and Mrs. Thornley have attended the ‘Life without levels’ training where they were advised that there should be no comparisons made to the old levels system. The new Year 2 and 6 standards are yet to be set. The Headteacher reported that teacher assessments will be made at the end of this term and reported in ‘steps’ in the first spring meeting.
5:58pm Mrs. Thornley left the meeting
9. Headteacher’s written report and SDP
This was circulated with the agenda papers and advance questions invited. Responses then passed back to governors.
The Headteacher began with an apology to Mrs. Thomson for the incorrect information contained in his report. She has been with the school for thirteen years and did not join as a NQT. He also wished her the best of luck in her new job. It was explained that she was due to leave at February half term but if a replacement can be found, will be released at the end of this term. This will be her last meeting and all staff will be informed that they are able to stand for election. This should be advertised to all – possibly on the staff room notice board. If there is a standard letter available, the clerk will circulate it in school so that all staff have the opportunity to elect their representative.
Further questions were invited from governors as there was limited time for response to the Headteacher’s report this time. The principle behind advance questions was explained for the benefit of the new governors, who appreciated the detailed report as there is a lot to take in.
- It is irritating that the school has to give up £400 per pupil for the Virtual Headteacher. Could governors write to the Authority to justify the amount and the impact this has on the child
- Yes, especially as each LAC attracts just £1600 in funding and the school has to monitor their spending
ACTION: Mrs. Arscott
Mr. Shore thanked Mr. White for attending the recent assembly on Pupil Voice and staying on for the meeting afterwards. Also, Revd. Holley will be joining the assembly on Monday morning.
10. Committee structure for 2015/16
a) Appointment of Teacher’s Pay Committee
The Chair explained which governors would be eligible to sit on this committee and that Mr. Monk was currently Chair. The purpose is to ratify that due process had been followed. Governors are not able to challenge awards if the process has been completed correctly. Anonymised information is presented as the committee are looking at the process alone, not what individuals are awarded. They report to the F&R Committee when complete. The Pay Committee was agreed as Mr. Monk, Mr. Marchetti and Mr. White.
11. To adopt policies approved by Committees
The Charging and Remissions Policy, included in the agenda pack, had been updated to show the new charging scheme for music lessons and otherwise remained unchanged. It had been approved by the F&R Committee who recommended its adoption. It was proposed, seconded and all agreed it be adopted.
The Access to Campus Policy had been approved at Committee level but the Infant School have since asked for some changes to be introduced. Therefore, agreement was delayed until a new draft is circulated. It will be reviewed at the January meeting.
6:14pm Revd. Holley left the meeting
12. Report from Headteacher’s Performance Management Committee
Mrs. Arscott, Mrs. Baker and Revd. Holley reported that this process had been carried out in consultation with Martyn Beales, LLP as the external partner. It was completed on 30th October and the agreed pay award passed to the Pay Committee.
13. Governor training
a) Report on Pupil Premium presentation
The recent presentation on PP by Mrs. Bristow was both informative and interesting but possibly too detailed for the time allowed. The PowerPoint presentation has been emailed to governors as the handouts were very small and difficult to read.
b) Forthcoming in-house training
18th January 2016 – an In-house training session will be held on assessment, monitoring the C.L.E.A.R values and the new Ofsted guidelines. Governors will be inspected as part of the leadership focus and, if found inadequate, can bring the school grading down.
12th February 2016 – Safeguarding training during the morning of the INSET day to be held at the Infant School, starting at 9:00am. Mr. White expressed an interest in attending.
29th February 2016 – WGBT on SMSC is to be held in the Junior School from 7-9pm.
Changes are afoot at Governor Services with Pam Ripley leaving and Jane Hodgson taking over. Helen Piela has been very helpful during the changeover.
c) Matching training to committee responsibilities
The recent Michael Wilshaw statement brings governor training into focus and Mrs. Arscott will agree a training schedule with Mrs. Datlen, suggesting appropriate courses for governors. A new training list has been emailed today by Governor Services. Governors were asked to give apologies if unable to attend sessions booked as there is often a waiting list for courses. Mrs. Datlen is working on areas of need and producing a cycle of training, to keep it up to date.
14. 21st Century Governance for 21st Century Schools
An interesting document and speech that was emailed with the agenda pack but not printed for the meeting. Governors discussed the value and logistics of paying governors and how that would be funded. It also vindicates the recent restructuring and reconstitution based on knowledge and skills required for an effective governing body. Governors took part in a skills audit approximately eight months ago but it should be repeated and new members included. It was a useful exercise as it showed where gaps in training were and recorded professional skills held by individuals.
15. Any other business
a) Ownership of land adjacent to the school currently owned by Barker-Mill Estates is likely to pass to building developers
b) The recent fireworks evening was outstanding and a fabulous community event.
c) This Friday, 4th, is the school Winter Fair from 2-3:45pm. All welcome
d) 16th December is the Year 4 outcome entitled, ‘On the Homefront.’ This showcases their work which now includes information on Syria. 5:30-6:30pm – all welcome
Thanking all for attending, the meeting ended at 6:38pm.
Next meeting dates:
Invitation to tea with the staff – Thurs 10th December at 4:00pm
Monday 1st February 2016 Monday 29th February 7pm – WGBT on SMSC
Tuesday 22nd March 2016 Monday 16th May 2016
Tuesday 5th July 2016
NB: Monday meetings start at 6pm, Tuesdays at 4.30pm.