Minutes of the Full Governing Body
FOXHILLS JUNIOR SCHOOL
Held on Tuesday 18th March 2014 - commenced 4.30pm
Present: Mrs. Arscott – Chair
Mr. Shore – Headteacher
Mrs. Thomson – Staff Governor
Mr. Monk - Co-opted Governor
Mr. Thomas – Co-opted Governor
Mrs. Datlen - Co-opted & Training Liaison Governor
Ms. Scevity – Co-opted Governor
Dr. McKechnie - Co-opted Governor
Mrs. Turner – Parent Governor
Mrs. Baker – Parent Governor
Mrs. Thornley - Parent Governor
Apologies: Mrs. Reader – Co-opted Governor
Mr. Webb – Parent Governor
Absent: Mr. Fillis – Co-opted Governor
Mrs. Sides – Parent Governor
In Attendance: Mrs. Dulieu – Clerk
Mrs. Bristow – Deputy Headteacher
Signed: A. Arscott Date: 19/05/14
Apologies were received and accepted from Gill Reader and Jeremy Webb. Mrs. Turner will likely be late. The clerk confirmed that the meeting was quorate.
2. Declaration of pecuniary interests
None were declared for this agenda.
3. Minutes of last meeting, 20th January 2014
The minutes of 20th January 2014 were proposed, seconded and all agreed that they were a true record of the meeting.
4. Matters arising
a) The action point list was updated with the following noted:
5. The SFVS form is complete and will be submitted in time to meet the deadline of 31st March. Mr. Monk is liaising with Mrs. Cooper to upload the information.
8. Virtual Governance is an item on this agenda.
12. Any discussions on Academy Status will be deferred for now.
The remaining actions remain ongoing.
4.35pm Mrs. Turner arrived
5. Headteacher’s report and responses
Following the Ofsted inspection last week, it is time to change the way that governors work with the Headteacher. Mr. Shore explained that since he joined the school eighteen months ago he has fully shared information with the Board in an open and honest way, so that governors are completely aware of the position of the school and its aims. Feedback from the audit last year was that there was a strong relationship with governors on information sharing; Ofsted commented on the depth of knowledge shared. Questions now need to reflect the changes made in this time to the school, governor awareness and involvement. Some questions asked on this report are definitely operational and not within the governor remit. Governors can know strategic plans for monitoring purposes but not specific information on individuals e.g. Statistics on quality of teaching in school, but no details of how individual teachers are performing. Where grievances are concerned, governors cannot know any information about any case, until the appeal procedure where they become involved in an official capacity and must have no prior knowledge of the situation. This is the reason that advance questions are sent via the Clerk and Chair so that they can filter out duplicate, operational or inappropriate questions before they are collated and passed on to the Head. Governors need to understand the difference between operational and other questions. The Governor role is to support and challenge; if the Headteacher breaches a policy, puts the school at risk, is on a decline in attainment etc., then it would become a governor’s duty to question that. The day to day running of the school has been delegated to the Headteacher by the Board via the Standing Orders and Terms of Reference for Committees. He is rigorously held to account by the F&R and CLA Committees, FGB, Data Group and Pupil Premium Working Party; the Headteacher Report to the FGB and again at his Performance Management; add to this the recent meticulous Ofsted inspection. The Inspection Team scrutinised the data, SDP, SEF and Curriculum, endorsing all aspects of the strategic development and direction of the school. They found a strong leadership team in place so it seemed an appropriate time to ask governors to trust him in his endeavours to improve the school, by moving forward and adjusting the depth of questioning currently practised.
4.45pm Mrs. Bristow arrived
A governor supported everything the Headteacher had just said, but asked when operational situations changed to strategic e.g. if ten members of staff were off sick, would it not be in the governor remit to ask if it could be caused by the management of the school. On the journey to ‘Outstanding,’ people will be under pressure but all sharing the same goals. Yes, governors would be asking questions, but the Chair is confidant to the Headteacher and would be privy to more operational information and would be the first to challenge in such a situation. Policies are in place and the MoPP, which is followed to the letter, sets strategic protocols for solving issues. In the last eighteen months, governors have needed to know a fair amount of operational detail, in order to understand the strategic direction. Now, there is no need for this level of detail. A governor commented that new governors won’t easily know the difference.This is why questions are sent via the Clerk and Chair so that they can filter out those that don’t need to be passed on to the Head, but this should not preclude new governors from asking those questions. There is a good support network in place between all governors, so others can answer most queries. A governor asked why this point was raised now – because of Ofsted? They did comment that there was much evidence of governors challenging the Headteacher, but not much for support and asked if he felt that he was. Yes, was the answer, especially by the Chair and Vice-Chair. He feels that he has a good relationship with the whole Board and that good progress has been made in the school in this, his first Headship. A governor commented that it wasn’t a lack of trust and accepted that the school was vulnerable without the changes that have been made, but the Head should know that he would be challenged and asked awkward questions. The Headteacher felt that the questions being asked were neither challenging, nor awkward because he’d shared as much information as possible with them. The Clerk suggested that governors review their Standing Orders and Terms of Reference to see if they needed further clarification. Governors are welcome to view the MoPP online to see what procedures are in place, should they choose to. The Headteacher explained that Ofsted suggested that the balance of questioning needs to change now that the school is on the right path to progress.
The Inspection interrupted the advance question/response process, so the Headteacher answered those raised by the deadline last week as follows:
· Achievement of Pupils – the current year six has only one full term left at the school. Is there anything more that can be done to help them progress before they leave Foxhills?
A governor asked if his questions could be taken into account although they had missed the deadline. The Headteacher agreed to answer some, but others were operational and not appropriate to answer at this meeting.
Although the question was asked, it was deemed that the class teacher should be the first point of contact for this situation and governors agreed that there were many avenues for pupils to discuss concerns through Pupil Voice etc.
The Glossary should be updated to include the new terms identified in this report.
Being keen to hear about the recent Inspection, the Headteacher explained how the school was contacted at 12:00 Wednesday 12th March and the team, consisting of three individuals not known to each other, requested information that had to be provided by 3pm on that day. They started on Thursday 13th, and held a feedback meeting at the end of the day at which Mr. Shore and Mrs. Bristow were observers. Mrs. Bristow commented that the decision made at this meeting between the Inspectors was that the school should not be in category even though the RAISEonline data suggested that it should be either Special Measures or Serious Weaknesses. The Headteacher explained the differences to governors. The Team have strictly advised Mr. Shore not to share their judgement, taken at the end of day 2, until after the report is published in around two-week’s time. However, he is allowed to say that he thinks governors and parents will be pleased with the result. Being his first Ofsted as a Headteacher, he does not want to jeopardise the result and risk another inspection. Governors accepted this and understood his position. He explained, in some detail, the rigorous process and documentation produced over the two days and how changes in governance helped the school e.g. evidence of learning walks. A positive experience, the children appeared inspired, engaged and enthused, which was most encouraging. Governors were held to account in a one-hour interview which, although intense and more in-depth than the last inspection, was fair as they looked at each area of strength.
It is hoped that the report will be available by 28th March and will be shared with everyone, including parents. A governor informed the Board that the word in the playground is that the result is not good as it hasn’t been shared immediately. A report always takes a minimum of two weeks. The message to parents that ask is that it was a positive experience; they have recognised the journey and achievements in the school and that it is hoped they’ll be pleased with the result when it’s shared in a couple of weeks. A letter has been posted on the school website to parents in the meantime.
A meeting was organised for governors to discuss the report on Monday 31st March at 5.30pm. It is hoped that it can be circulated before then. All governors welcome. Governors sincerely thank all staff and will wait for the report to be released.
6. Finance and Resources Committee report
The minutes of the meeting held on 7th March have just been approved and will be sent out as soon as possible.
5.33pm Mrs. Bristow left the meeting
The Chair of the Committee highlighted the following:
Year to date brought forward: £ 55,960
Surplus: £ (101,157)
Cumulative surplus C/Fwd: £ 157,117
A system is in place that allows the school to be compared to other schools locally, nationally or specific schools on a variety of measures e.g. educational resources, premises, staffing etc. It is a valuable exercise to see how spending here compares to others and if the spending is higher, or lower, to know why. This is carried out annually and there are some big positives in this document for premises (especially considering the location of the school) and educational supplies. A governor asked if the savings had been made recently. Educational supplies costs are consistently lower now and these figures are based on last year 2012-13. The savings are the reason for the 2013-14 underspend. A governor asked if any progress had been made on replacing the absence insurance SLA. Although the SLA wasn’t due for renewal until April 2014, the school was informed in November that it had to sign up for it by 18th December 2013. There was insufficient time to obtain quotes as the amount of information required, on all staff, in order to get a price would have taken longer to collate. Therefore, the SLA has been renewed and will be reviewed within the three years it is now valid for. It remains the case that only teaching staff are covered under the insurance scheme and does not include support or admin staff.
5.44pm Mrs. Thornley left the meeting
7. Children’s Learning and Attainment Committee report
The minutes of the last meeting, held on 30th January 2014 were distributed with the agenda pack. The Chair of the Committee highlighted the following points:
ACTION: Mr. Thomas
More dates will be required from the Headteacher, who agreed to email as soon as possible – adding that governors will be warmly welcomed
A list of policies that have been approved at Committee level for adoption at FGB was presented, which included:
They were unanimously adopted.
9. Parents’ Questionnaire
Although the draft questionnaire had been distributed with the agenda pack, the recent Inspection has negated the need for this to be sent out this year. There were 91 responses to Parentview online.
10. Virtual Governance
Cost estimates and a draft policy were included in the agenda pack. Governors were asked if it would be used sufficiently often to justify the expenditure. Equipment would have to be bought, and a telephone line installed to the staff room where meetings are usually held. A short discussion took place, raising the following points:
The proposal was made, to not take up this option at this time but to consider at a later date if it was felt necessary. A show of hands was taken where 9 were in favour, none against and 1 abstention. Virtual Governance will therefore not be an option for now.
11. Governors’ SEF
As this was not required for the Ofsted Inspection, the proposed meeting to update it will be cancelled and the Chair will update and present it at the next FGB. All agreed.
ACTION: Mrs. Arscott
12. Governor Training
It has been suggested by the Headteacher that the WGBT be about Academy Status as there are no other burning issues for training just now. It doesn’t mean the change will happen, but it would be an opportunity to gather more information about the subject. Training would be a joint event with the Infant School governors as both Heads are keen to explore this area and there are many advantages of getting ahead of the game, as it is expected that all schools will eventually become academies.
The Infant School WGBT will be ‘Moving your school to Good’ which is currently planned for 15th May 2014; all governors are invited to attend. This training will be confirmed nearer the time with Governor Services providing all resources.
Four training reports were submitted with the agenda and those who’d attended gave brief highlights of their courses:
12 a) School Buildings – this course showed how vital the Property SLA is to the school, in terms of expertise and VfM. Energy conservation was raised, as HCC continue to try and reduce its carbon footprint with Smart metering and Energy policies in place. This should be picked up by the F&R Committee, although it is not clear what could be done to improve efficiency here; Mrs. Reader is currently looking at it, from a benchmarking perspective, with the Green Team and Foxhills is looking good compared to others. There is an ongoing programme of works covering decoration under the SLA and emergency repairs e.g. roofing, are applied for through HCC. The Headteacher commented that recent works on the children’s toilets, fire insulation etc. have been completed by approved contractors. Mr. Monk remarked that even with a cost of £26k per year, it was vital to continue with this SLA as there is no tender process to endure, no overseeing of works and all schools are supported from this fund. Without this contract, the school would have to undertake all this work alone.
12 b) PSHE was an amazing course. Helena Callister, PSHE Coordinator in school, has joined the Association (cost £100) which supplies lesson plans and other resources. Although not a statutory subject, this threads through the curriculum and must not be allowed to go ‘off the radar.’
12 c) Exclusion Practice and Procedures focused on the appeal process as that’s when governors get involved.
12 d) Performance Related Pay was hard going, but good. An interesting course for those on Pay and Performance Committees and gratifying to know that Foxhills’ process is now in place.
The TLG attended another course last week, ‘Meeting the Needs of Vulnerable Children,’ and her report will be included in the next FGB agenda pack.
Dr. McKechnie attended the Induction training and commented that it was very good, but would have been more useful to have it earlier. It was essential information on the governance process of challenge, support etc.; interesting, and a good day out.
The new training booklets have arrived, which the clerk will distribute as soon as possible. Governors can either book the courses directly, or advise Mrs. Datlen, who will organise them. If circumstances change that prevent governors from attending courses they’ve booked, it is essential to advise the TLG as soon as possible, as there are often waiting lists.
Three governors will attend the Curriculum briefing on Tuesday 25th March – Mrs. Thomson, Mrs. Datlen and Mrs. Baker.
The notes on the recent Forum are available on the website. Subjects included Sports Funding and the possible reconstitution and format of a GB. It is proposed that the GB be smaller, and that co-opted governors are recruited for the skills they can bring. Parent governors would continue to be elected. A report will be included at the next meeting on Policies – evaluating their impact.
13. Update on Barker-Mill proposal
A confidential matter was discussed and there is a separate, confidential minute for this item.
14. Any other business
a) A governor asked if the proposed Industrial Action will affect the school. Staff are not obliged to inform the school of their intention to strike, but most are not members of the NUT so it is unlikely to affect Foxhills.
b) Ashurst and Colbury fete will be held on 6th September 2014. Help will be needed to set up from 7.30am and to man the school’s stand.
c) A governor commented that the recent Viking Day was excellent.
d) The school photographer will be in on 24th March for those governors who were unable to attend the last session. Business dress required for the full-length photo. The Clerk will email those involved.
Thanking all for attending, the meeting ended at 6.36pm.
Date of next meetings:
Ofsted report – Monday 31st March at 5.30pm
FGB - Monday 19th May at 7pm and Tuesday 8th July at 4.30pm