Meeting 6 - 8th July 2014
Minutes of the Full Governing Body
FOXHILLS JUNIOR SCHOOL
Held on Tuesday 8th July 2014 - commenced 4.30pm
Present: Mrs. Arscott – Chair
Mr. Shore – Headteacher
Mr. Monk - Co-opted Governor
Mr. Fillis – Co-opted Governor
Mr. Thomas – Co-opted Governor
Ms. Scevity – Co-opted Governor
Mrs. Baker – Parent Governor
Mrs. Thornley - Parent Governor
Mr. Webb – Parent Governor
Mrs. Sides – Parent Governor
Apologies: Mrs. Thomson – Staff Governor
Dr. McKechnie - Co-opted Governor
Mrs. Datlen - Co-opted & Training Liaison Governor
In Attendance: Mrs. Dulieu – Clerk
Mrs. Callister - Teacher
Signed: A. Arscott Date: 06/10/14
Presentation by Mrs. Helena Callister on Rights Respecting Schools Award
The school will be seeking to attain this award from September 2014; it is a two-year commitment to gain up to Level 2. Mrs. Callister explained that it was based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which contains 54 articles that define their rights and the responsibilities that goes with them. Children need to not only understand these rights, but also to respect them.
4.40pm Mr. Webb arrived
Young people gain self-esteem, learn to negotiate as well as extend their language and thinking skills. Class charters are in place and the INSET day in September will include training for staff to ensure that everyone uses the correct language and offers a consistent approach to the children. A steering group will be formed to include children, teaching and non-teaching staff, SLT and governors. It is not yet decided whether this should replace the Pupil Voice group but it is thought to be the logical step. Children will learn that their actions have consequences; the scheme will encourage moral judgements and evaluation of the role of the adults around them; this, in turn will empower them. The first stage (Recognition of Commitment) has been applied for and an action plan is in place for the new term.
- Does this mean that children will be involved in how the school is run and allow them to be critical of aspects of their school?
- It provides a forum to hear their views, proving that they have a voice. Their thoughts may not always be agreed with, but would be discussed
- Who would decide whether their view is reasonable?
- Whomever they are presenting to. This could be staff or governors, for example. They may influence the Curriculum, future projects etc. so it comes with a level of empowerment and responsibility. It would be a two-way dialogue with reasons why something is to be implemented, or what can’t be changed. Problems can be identified and they will be asked to offer solutions, in a mature way. They will also act as a voice for their peers, which is how the Pupil Voice group works now. Some schools have two separate groups, others just have one, which is likely the preferred idea here
- Is there training available for the children?
- UNICEF offer training packages – at a cost to the school. Kings Park School in Bournemouth have a Level 2 Award and Hayley Sired has links there so it is hoped that they will help
- How many schools have this award locally? And is it targeted at Primary?
- Mainly Southampton and Bournemouth, so far, although Blackfield Primary are involved too. Any school can take part, including Secondary
- Will this engage all year groups?
- Yes. Representatives will be chosen per class and PSHE or Circle Time will allow feedback sessions to take place. This award should represent the whole school and be led by the children. They will present to Assemblies, maintain displays etc.
- How will you combine Year 6 children with those in Year 3?
- Ice breakers work well. They must feel comfortable speaking to each other. Quite how the representatives will be chosen is not yet decided; Pupil Voice was by class vote, but this can lead to popularity voting. The interaction between Year 6s and those in Year 3 is exceptional; they each respect each other already!
Governors thanked Mrs. Callister for her informative presentation. They agreed that it was an exciting project with wide reaching implications.
Mrs. Callister left the meeting
Mr. Shore explained Mrs. Callister’s role in school as a 0.8 teacher, covering PPA and SLT time in class. He also commented that she has put an enormous amount of work into this initiative. Hayley Sired, who joined earlier this year, is working closely with Helena.
Apologies were received and accepted from Mrs. Thomson, Dr. McKechnie and Mrs. Datlen; Mrs. Thornley will arrive later. The clerk confirmed that the meeting was quorate.
2. Declaration of pecuniary interests
None were declared for this agenda.
3. Minutes of last meeting, 18th March 2014
The main and confidential minutes of 19th May 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. See attached.
5. Governor Vacancies
a) to co-opt a staff governor (application included in agenda pack) Since the agenda was sent out, the Chair has attended the Governor Conference where the subject of reconstituting was discussed. In legal terms, this GB has already gone through the process and there is no need to repeat it, but – smaller, more focused GBs are recommended and in particular, a skills-based model. Governors were asked to consider co-opting another Staff Governor now, to replace Gill Reader, and when to replace the remaining Parent Governor vacancy. Governors discussed the new recommendations and limits; whether smaller was better or more vulnerable; parents standing for elected vacancies or being approached with a view to co-opting those with appropriate skills. . A governor expressed concern that if only skilled people were appointed, parents who consider themselves without specific skills to offer would feel inadequate and unwelcome. Governors disagreed that parents were unskilled and stated that they still had a valuable contribution to make. A governor asked if it was decided to reduce size, what would happen to the existing governors. Most GBs for this size of school have 12 governors in post. It would not be worth considering less than that as it would add too much pressure to too few people and would be difficult to maintain quorum in case of sickness etc. A governor recommended that this decision be held until the discussion regarding Academy status has taken place. All agreed. A meeting will be held on Friday 11th between the HT and all Chairs to consider pros and cons for Academy status, results of which will be reported back to the FGB early next term.
b) to consider the timescale for filling the Parent Governor vacancy
As agreed above, this will be reconsidered in the Autumn term.
c) to appoint a governor to the Headteacher’s Performance Management Committee
The Chair explained that there was a need for a governor to join this committee urgently, as the process would begin in September. Mrs. Sides was invited and will let Mrs. Arscott know her decision as soon as possible. The next meeting of this committee is booked for 30th September at 8.30am.
ACTION: Mrs. Sides
6. Headteacher’s Report and responses
The report was sent out in advance of the meeting and governor questions collated. The response document was emailed over the weekend.
All agreed that the format works well; Ofsted comments on each section were included, following the recent inspection, and will continue to be in future reports.
The SATs results have been returned today with initial results of level 4+ being: Reading – 90%; Maths – 90%; Writing (teacher assessed) in the high 80s. The current floor target is 60%.
5.20pm Mrs. Thornley arrived
At this stage, it is not known whether the Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar (SPaG) papers will be included in results (they weren’t last year) but with them, the combined level 4+ will be 74.5% and without, 79%. Also, it was noted that there are 8 children who have achieved a level 6 in Maths, which is phenomenal. Ofsted were content with the predicted 76-80% and this has been achieved. There are also 64% of children at level 5 for Reading which will have a positive impact on the Value Added results in RAISEonline. With Mrs. Kelly being a Moderator, the school is confident in the teacher assessed Writing results. The Headteacher was extremely pleased to announce these figures and assured governors that this was not a ‘blip,’ but an achievable level of working. Big thanks from the Headteacher to the Year 6 team for their superb job and careful interventions and congratulations from the governors too.
A confidential matter was discussed and there is a separate confidential minute for this item.
7. Review the impact of the staff restructure (September 2013)
The Headteacher explained the staffing structure when he joined the school in September 2012 and the changes he implemented, for the benefit of new governors. The Phase Leaders, Mrs. Kelly and Miss Hogbourne, have revised job descriptions and will ensure initiatives are delivered and the quality of interventions remains high. Pupil Premium meetings will also be run by Phase Leaders from now on. Coaching remains within the phases (lower and upper school) for identified needs of the teaching staff. Steph Mander has been appointed Curriculum Leader. On reflection, the Curriculum Team that was set up last autumn (with no leader) has not worked as anticipated. There will now be leaders for individual subjects, led by Steph. New ToR have been drafted for the Curriculum team, from September; although this is operational, the Headteacher agreed to present this new system to the CLA Committee in the autumn term.
ACTION: Mr. Shore
Planning is prepared equally by all teachers now, who can plan for individuals’ needs within their class. Now that this is in place, Chris Bristow is able to pass the monitoring responsibility of planning to the Phase Leaders and concentrate on Teaching and Learning.
A governor asked if the children will notice any difference with these changes. None at all; the SLT meetings now cover a lot of ground, with five members of staff attending. There will be an opportunity for Phase Leaders’ feedback in September. This role will also help to develop their careers and next steps too.
The changes have had financial implications as only two teachers remain on the original TLRs with two years’ protection left to run. A new, temporary point, TLR3 has been created which can be awarded and ended without being safeguarded.
There is greater accountability with the new staff Performance Related Pay scheme. A governor asked how the staff felt about the changes – had everyone embraced the new system, or preferred the old structure? After a difficult start, the staff realised how much of an improvement it would be. By abolishing ‘setting’ for core subjects, better results are being achieved as staff plan for individuals now rather than groups. The Sutton Trust research proved setting didn’t help children, but interventions and skilled LSAs do. This will be the culture that the two new staff join in September. New lines of communication are open now, with regular weekly staff meetings and the introduction of a new email system that is available to all staff.
The Headteacher was thanked for his report.
8. To adopt:
a) Governors’ Visit Policy and b) Terms of Reference for CLA
This revised policy, distributed with the agenda papers, includes useful questions to help inform governors before their visit. The ToR (also included in the agenda pack) have been updated to cover the purpose of the committee. Both documents are recommended to the FGB for adoption. With a correction noted that the CLA stands for Children’s Learning and Achievement, not Attainment, both documents were adopted with all in favour, none against and no abstentions.
The Chair commented that the policy list is under review by the clerk at this time.
9. Learning Walks
Two reports were distributed with the agenda pack. A governor encouraged others to take part in one when possible, as it builds confidence in what’s happening in the classrooms. Comments from governors who had taken part recently included: it was very reassuring to see the children engaged and enthusiastic; it changed my outlook to see them in a learning environment – how they share work, how the buddy system empowers them; the class was buzzing. Many aspects of school life were praised and understanding raised e.g. the purpose of display boards in class; the value of children reflecting on their work; amazing behaviour in class; the simple coloured card system for those who needed help. All governors found the learning walks very informative and thanked the Headteacher and staff involved for the opportunity to see learning in this way.
10. HCC Code of Conduct for Penalty Notices for Unauthorised Absences
A copy of the code was distributed with the agenda for governors to consider.
The Headteacher was pleased to report that attendance currently stands at 97%, which is a great result. He went on to explain that it was Hampshire’s model policy but the school may write its own; it covers attendance over a 10-week period and that Southampton have a lower threshold before fines are imposed. He also stressed that the main aim is to work with parents and that fining would be a last resort. Governors discussed the process, covering the following points:
- Two applications for LA support were returned for the school to take further actions with the families involved
- Sickness is not considered unauthorised, but excessive absence would require medical evidence
- Where families have worked with the school for genuine absences, work has been sent home, consent has been given by parents for the school to contact the G.P. etc.
- If the school wrote its own policy, it could set a lower threshold and enforce fines through the court at a cost of £25
- How many two-week holidays have been prevented? This is not known, but attendance has improved
- The letter that has been sent to parents gives five reasons why they should keep their children in school – an attempt to win their support which seems to have worked
- Is there a cost to the school if a child is absent? Yes – in catch-up sessions on their return and planning is affected as they will have missed a portion of the project, which can be very disruptive for the child
- How many schools have adopted the policy? Foxhills is one of the last to take it to the GB, but none of them have imposed a fine yet
- How many schools have introduced their own policy? This wasn’t known, but the Headteacher stressed that it was better to develop a relationship with the family of those persistently absent
- How many families would this apply to? At the moment, just one
- The Educational Welfare Officer used to be the one doing home visits and chasing up absent children, but this service has been withdrawn. The Headteacher and Deputy made two home visits last week in an attempt to contact parents; both were out at the time. This is followed up with a letter
- Although attendance is good at the moment, a drop below 95% will trigger an Ofsted Inspection
A proposal was made to adopt the Code of Conduct for Penalty Notices for Unauthorised Absences in its present form and re-evaluate its effectiveness in the future. All agreed, with none against and no abstentions.
Mr Shore agreed to post the letter to parents on the school website.
ACTION: Mr. Shore
11. Governor Training
A number of reports were included in the agenda pack, showing an improved uptake in training which governors were thanked for. The Chair reported that the Conference was excellent, with amazing speakers. A governor asked how the school will track progress with the abolishment of levels. The Headteacher will report decisions made on tracking to the CLA next year; in the meantime, governors were invited to look at Tim Oates discussing assessment without levels on YouTube.
Thoughts on the recent Academy training session and whether the school should go down that route should be emailed to the Chair/Clerk by Wednesday 9th July. The point to answer is ‘do you think that a move to Academy Status will improve outcomes for the children.’
12. Any other business
a) A very complimentary letter from a parent was read to governors. It thanked the school and Natalie Hogbourne for the quality of teaching and care of their child this year.
b) The land next to the school has been sold for a price higher than that for agricultural land in this area. The intended use of the site is not yet known.
c) A governor is concerned about progression for the FJSA next year as nobody seems to be interested in taking over the Chair from September. Mrs. Thornley has offered to step up to help build relationships and membership, if necessary, although she suggested that no action is taken before the new academic year as there will be a new intake of parents then too. It was noted that the recent Summer Fayre was well organised and attended, with a great outcome. The importance of this family event and whether it should be held on Friday or Saturday, was briefly discussed, as was the availability of staff on a weekend. The Headteacher commented that all schools expect their staff to attend fetes, although their time could not be directed at the weekend.
d) Dates for your diary
Are all on the school website, but include:
Production – Cinderella & Rockerfella, 16th & 17th July 6pm. Please obtain your ticket from the school office. There are performances during the day on Monday 14th and Tuesday 15th if that is more convenient.
Fun sports day – 21st July, 1.30pm
Year 6 Leavers’ assembly – 22nd July, 2.45pm
Final assembly, 23rd July, 9.05am, a chance to say goodbye to those members of staff who are leaving – Gill Reader, Chris Kempton and Sue Knight. Mrs. Knight will be a hard act to follow although interviews are taking place this week.
School picnic – 23rd July, 12pm; followed by school closure at 1.15pm. Bring a picnic! A governor asked if any requests had been made for children to stay at school for the afternoon. None were received. A governor also commented that the afterschool club stepped in and offered child care for the afternoon. The bus company are also happy to provide one bus at 1.15pm and as there were so few infants affected, the Infant School has organised a home run by staff.
Ashurst and Colbury Fete, Saturday 6th September – as many governors as possible to help on the day please
e) The Child Protection Policy revised and discussed last year, was not minuted as being formally adopted. The Clerk asked that it be proposed and seconded. All agreed with none against and no abstentions.
13. Dates for meetings 2014/15
Suggested dates included in the agenda pack were agreed, along with the following additional meetings:
Pay Committee – Tuesday 16th September 2014, 8.15am
Pupil Premium – Friday 3rd October 2014 and Friday 27th March 2015, both at 8.15am
Data Group – Tuesday 23rd September 2014 and Tuesday 24th March, also at 8.15am
Times were also noted as follows:
FGB meetings on Mondays run from 7-9pm and Tuesdays, 4.30-6.30pm.
CLA meetings on Thursdays at 1.30pm
Finance and Resources meetings on Fridays at 8.15am
Thanking all for attending, the meeting ended at 6.50pm.
Date of next meetings:–
Pay Committee – Tuesday 16th September 2014, 8.30am
Data Group – Tuesday 23rd September 2014, 8.15am
Pupil Premium – Friday 3rd October 2014, 8.15am
FGB – Monday 6th October 2014, 7pm
CLA – Thursday 23rd October, 1.30pm
F&R – Friday 14th November, 8.15am