Meeting 4 - 22nd March 2016
Minutes of the Full Governing Body
FOXHILLS JUNIOR SCHOOL
Held on Tuesday 22nd March 2016 – commenced 4:30pm
Present: Mrs. Arscott – Local Authority Governor and Chair
Mrs. Thornley – Co-opted Governor and Vice Chair
Miss Sired – Staff 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
Mrs. Baker – Parent Governor
Apologies: Mr. Shore – Headteacher
Mr. Fillis – Co-opted Governor
Mr. Monk - Co-opted Governor
Dr. Wiley – Co-opted Governor
Mr. White – Co-opted Governor
In Attendance: Mrs. Dulieu – Clerk
Signed: A. Arscott Date: 16/05/16
Were received and accepted from Mr. Fillis, Mr. Monk, Mr. Shore, Mr. White and Dr. Wiley. Ms Scevity expected to be late and will join the meeting after her cookery club is finished.
The clerk confirmed that the meeting would be quorate.
2. Declaration of pecuniary interests
None were declared.
3. Minutes of last meeting, 1st February 2016
The minutes of the last meeting were proposed, seconded and all agreed that they were a true record.
4 Matters arising
a) The action point list was updated, with the following noted:
1. The hedge has been cut back. Discharged
2. Mrs. Arscott is awaiting a reply to her letter regarding the Virtual Headteacher. Ongoing
4. An update on the bus will be discussed on this agenda. Discharged
5. Two travel incidents have been reported to the Chair. Discharged
b) A complaints hearing was held on 8th March, regarding the complaint against Bartley School GB, for which a collaboration agreement had been signed. Mr. Monk chaired the panel, comprising Mrs. Arscott and Mrs. Thornley. The clerk organised it and has been complimented by Governor Services on the professionalism of the event. The complaint was not upheld but no further details can be shared with governors.
c) Mr. Taylor has resigned, due to ill health, as he felt he could not commit to governor business for at least this academic year. This leaves a parent governor vacancy. A notice will be included in the newsletter. One person has contacted the Chair, to register their interest in any future vacancy, but there may be others. An election will be held at the beginning of next term, with governors’ agreement, as although this will exclude next year’s Year 3 parents, there will be another vacancy in the autumn as Mrs. Baker’s term comes to an end. There is a process in place and information will be sent to parents after the Easter holidays.
d) An additional matter regarding SFVS has arisen. The form completed and agreed at the last meeting has been superseded by a revision, which includes two new questions. Mr. Monk has completed the new form and the additional page was tabled at the meeting. Mrs. Arscott explained the detail behind the questions to governors, who unanimously agreed to adopt the revision for submission to the Authority this week.
A ‘dip test’ on last year’s audit has been conducted and the evidence requested has been sent to the Authority today. Thanks to Mr. Monk for doing this.
5. Headteacher’s written report
Mr. Shore’s report had been sent out with the agenda and questions/comments noted, and responded to, in advance. Any further questions may be emailed to the clerk, following this meeting, and Mr. Shore will respond as soon as possible.
4:50pm Ms Scevity arrived
The new logo has been agreed and a sample jumper was passed around for governors to see. All agreed that it looked good and were happy with the quality.
A governor asked if the LLP report would be shared with governors. Yes, this will usually follow within around three weeks of the visit. Other than this, no questions were raised and Mr. Shore was thanked, in his absence, for his comprehensive report.
4:52 Mrs. Thornley arrived
6. Update on Published Admission Number (PAN) for September 2016
An email from the Authority and the Headteachers of the local schools’ responses had been shared with governors within the last week. Mr. Shore had issued a statement (attached) to governors outlining the current situation which stems from an unprecedented number of parents putting their first choice as FJS - 120 applicants for 90 places. This likely stems from increased out-of-catchment intake over the last few years in the Infant School. Headteachers from the Totton area schools have suggested that
they somehow need to clearly communicate to parents who are applying for a place for their child at FIS, that they will not automatically get a place at the Junior School. This may well avoid any bad feeling from parents
Offers day for parents is 16th April and appeals will be held in June. Some appeals may be successful, which may take the PAN over the current 90. The HCC Admissions Team have conceded that they should have anticipated this earlier, and it is not yet resolved. Governorsdiscussed the situation at length and considered:
- The impact of larger classes
- The fact that this is not a 1-year blip, as first thought
- Changes of pupil numbers mid-year
- The impact of inclusion and provision for SEND pupils, which has contributed to the good reputation of the school
- Further impact of proposed and expected housing developments in the area
- The likelihood of moving towards a 4-form entry in the future and what expansion could take place
- Parents’ choice of places for SEND children
- Popularity and success of the Pre-School
Governors concluded that there was nothing to do but wait for the result of the appeals process, at which time they will finally know the intake number for Autumn 2016. In the meantime, consideration is being given to accommodating additional pupils, in existing classrooms, by the SLT.
7. Report from Finance and Resources Committee
The minutes of 11th March have been drafted but were not available for this meeting. The committee and Mr. Monk are satisfied that the finances are in a healthy position again, this year.
A conversation took place about the possible purchase of a school minibus, and its use, and Mr. Marchetti advised caution on the choice – a rush decision should not be taken – and all options explored. Governors briefly discussed new or old, D1 licensing law and vehicle weights, adapting for the disabled and working with the community. There may be a need for a minibus in the local community, in which case it may be possible to recruit suitably qualified drivers from this source, in exchange for some community use of the bus. Additional funding, or sponsorship, may be sought from local companies. Governors may consider a working party next term so that plans are in place for the autumn. Friends of Foxhills may be able to support the purchase although they are also looking at IT and the garden at the moment. Mr. Marchetti, Mrs. Datlen and Miss Sired volunteered to take part in the discussion group.
ACTION: Mr. Marchetti, Mrs. Datlen & Miss Sired
The environmental classroom is under consideration but the all-weather pitch is on hold for now, due to flooding and cost concerns. A governor commented that the pitch would need ongoing funds for regular resurfacing too.
The minutes of the Committee meeting will be sent to governors as soon as they are finalised.
8. Report from the Children’s Learning and Attainment Committee
The minutes of the meeting held on 4th March were included with the agenda pack. A learning walk will be arranged for the summer term and Mrs. Thornley will be organising a date with Mrs. Bristow. This will be emailed to governors – the walk is open to anyone, not just those on the CLA Committee. A brief discussion on how they were conducted took place and what governors have seen in the past. They are a good insight into the school ethos and project-led learning. It was suggested that governors be allocated to a class each then meet afterwards to compare notes. Also that feedback be shared with the staff involved. The report following a learning walk is currently agreed with Mr. Shore and Mrs. Bristow, before sending to governors. It was considered that initial thoughts should also be shared with the teacher involved, which would help build relationships and clarify what governors have understood from the visit. A governor reiterated that governors don’t judge what they see and are there to look at a specific learning strategy in practise. All governors appreciate that the staff are the professionals and respect them as such. A summary of Dr. Wiley’s notes has been shared with governors, following his meeting with Mr. Goodchild, Maths Leader, which prompted a discussion on the best way to report back. There is a procedure in the current Visit Policy, including a format for reports. All agreed that building relationships with the staff is vital and, if established, will be obvious to visitors – including Ofsted.
9. Confidential item relating to Ashurst Pre-School
Confidential information was shared with governors and separate, confidential minutes have been recorded.
10. Report from Safeguarding Governor
The report was included in the agenda pack. Safeguarding forms a big part of the Ofsted focus at the moment. Mrs. Arscott has attended two training sessions recently; Safer Recruitment, Protecting Children and will attend another, on Prevent, very soon. Safeguarding information in school is up to date and it’s considered good practice to include information on the school website e.g. Prevent and a statement on British Values. Governors had been given the safeguarding guidance and those in attendance signed the sheet, which will be held by the clerk. A meeting is planned with Mrs. Bristow; Mrs. Arscott will also speak to staff and will need another one, possibly two governors to get involved. Mrs. Thornley has shown an interest in this role. It is anticipated that the plans in place will be completed by the end of the summer term and a folder will be available, containing all the information necessary. Governors briefly discussed safeguarding issues and recent reports of Ofsted talking to NQTs during inspections. There are concerns to be aware of with employing staff who have taught abroad as they may not have the safeguarding training expected in this country. Mrs. Arscott and Mrs. Datlen will organise a short presentation at the next FGB in May.
ACTION: Mrs. Arscott, Mrs. Datlen
11. Update on Yellow Bus situation
It was confirmed today that the bus subsidy has been withdrawn, with no reprieve, from September 2016. This is hugely disappointing but not unexpected. However, the continuity of the bus service is viable as long as parents are able to pay the fares. Neil Beswick, School Transport, has suggested a meeting next term with the Heads and CoGs of both the Infant and Junior Schools. Governors briefly discussed the impact on parents of the increased fares, the recent petition and subsidies for other schools in the area. Currently, the fares are £1 single or £1.90 return. A discussion will need to take place with the bus company to see how much the increase is likely to be. Governors used the £45k subsidy to estimate that fares will have to increase to approximately £4, just to break even. The service is popular and buses are always full. A governor suggested that a pre-paid bus pass system may be introduced. This has possibilities but could pose problems for parents having to find a lump sum in advance as the current system is pay as you go. Frustrated that this may impact the already difficult traffic situation, governors discussed an invitation from the local paper for comments from Mr. Shore. It was decided that a statement be prepared by Mrs. Arscott and Mr. Shore and emailed to governors so that they know what has been submitted.
ACTION: Mrs. Arscott/Mr. Shore
Mrs. Datlen has worked hard on the service, running a ‘bus club’ whilst they wait for the after school pick up. This service has guaranteed safe transport for some of the vulnerable children in school.
12. Summary of parents’ questionnaires
Included in the agenda pack, this is the last time that questionnaires will be conducted this way. In the future, questionnaires will be requested via SE+ online. There were fewer responses this time; ordinarily, around 30% have responded in the past. Generally, parents are happy with the school and the progress their children are making. There were few behavioural issues reported and some were based on hearsay only. A governor commented that there is a tendency for those with grievances to respond more than others that are content. Comments made on the Ofsted website are not accessible by the Chair and negative feedback must reach a certain level before they trigger an inspection.
13. Skills audit report
The summary and report was included in the agenda pack. Mr. White was thanked, in his absence, for collating and preparing the report. It shows that the Board has the right spread of skills and highlights the need for training in some areas e.g. procurement, purchasing and premises management.
There is a briefing coming up on Facilities and Health and Safety. Miss Sired and Ms Scevity volunteered to attend. Mrs. Datlen will book it and send them the details.
ACTION: Mrs. Datlen
Training is recommended for the newer governors and for those that have changed committees. It is always good to refresh training regularly. Ms Scevity had a list of courses that she would like to attend, which she will discuss with Mrs. Datlen. Future training can be planned around the skills audit results.
14. Governor training and reports
The following reports were sent out with the agenda papers:
a) Chairing matters
Governors are always impressed with the standard of training offered by Governor Services’ courses and find the opportunity for discussions with other governors very useful. Mrs. Arscott gave a brief overview of the course and stated that any governor would find this course of use.
b) Protecting Children
This course involved a lot of scenario work. Another good course with the points made above reiterated.
c) Pupil Premium
Pertinent to closing the gap and similar to the recent SMSC training session in that it showed how governors can be the ‘critical friend.’
Governance is deemed to be of a good standard in Hampshire although there is always more to do to improve. Mrs. Arscott explained that she has prepared a schedule of business for a year’s meetings, which was circulated with the agenda pack (see item 17b). It is expected that, following the recent Government Budget announcements, there will be more discussion on converting all schools to academies. Governors were at a loss as to why they would force this point, with Hampshire being second best Authority in the country – if something is working that well, why change it? They briefly discussed the lack of evidence that academies raise standards. One of the governors shared his thoughts as he is going through this process at another school.
6:07pm Mr. Marchetti left the meeting
Governors were invited to email Mrs. Datlen if they were interested in particular training courses. If enough governors are interested in the same thing, briefings can be organised. Equally, if governors aren’t able to get onto a course, Mrs. Datlen can have them added to the waiting list for cancellations. Governors hope to develop relations with the Infant School Board of Governors; there may be more opportunities to do this with the change of Head and CoG.
It was noted that Parent Governors will be phased out by the Government as announced during the Budget speech. As there is a vacancy now, and will be another at the end of December, Mrs. Arscott contacted Governor Services for advice on how to proceed. They informed her that there will need to be a change in legislation and to continue with the planned election next term, as this will take time to come into effect. Governors consider the abolishment of the post to be a retrograde step as they are a valuable asset to the team. It was accepted, however, that parents can be co-opted so the valuable role and their view may continue.
15. Any other business
17. Additional papers for information
A governor commented that the information was simple, clear and straight forward.
d) The AEN report would normally come to the FGB following a CLA meeting. Mrs. Bristow will be informed of the schedule of meetings so that her reports can tie in with planned CLA dates.
e) As reported in item 10, governors signed to confirm that they had read and understood the Keeping Children Safe in Education information.
f) The SDP Spring Priorities was shared for information only, as it is being reviewed under the new SE+ system.
16. Statement of impact of this meeting on school improvement
This should be done at the end of each meeting. Governors were asked if it should happen immediately it ends, or when the minutes come out.
Revd. Holley will be leaving the area as he has been offered a position in Bodmin, Cornwall. Governors wished him well in his new job but were sad to lose him. It is hoped that he will be able to attend more meetings before he finally goes.
6:15pm Revd. Holley left the meeting
Although no longer quorate, the remaining governors considered the following points to be of note from this meeting:
- PG Election to be held – impact on school improvement with an effective GB
- HT written report – a comprehensive statement of the school’s status
- Learning walk planning – strategic direction on how to conduct learning walks
- Finances – complying with SFVS procedure and working group set up to discuss the best use for the current surplus
- Sports funding – use for possible purchase of minibus
- Safeguarding – governors in place and system being devised for monitoring of safeguarding procedures
- Bus subsidy – monitoring the situation as it impacts the most vulnerable children and possible impact on traffic increase
- Parent questionnaires – School taken comments on board
- Skills audit – showing skill set of current governors and gaps for training
- Strategic GB Priorities – updated and ready for publishing on website
- SDP Priorities – allowing governors to support the aims of the school
Thanking all for attending, the meeting ended at 6:22pm
Next meeting dates:
FGB: Monday 16th May 2016; Tuesday 5th July 2016;
NB: Monday meetings start at 6pm, Tuesdays at 4.30pm.
CLA: Friday 10th June 2016, 9am
F&R: Friday 6th May 2016, 12:30pm