Summary of activities during the year
Full Governing Body
This has been a very active year for the governors.
At the start of the year we announced that our outstanding Headteacher, John Harrison would be standing down at Christmas. After a short selection process, governors appointed Simon Marsh as our acting head and agreed objectives and priorities with him for the academic year. We are grateful to Simon for the high standards he has sustained in the school and for his enormous dedication.
In December, working with an external professional who had been an experienced and successful Headteacher, we commenced our process for the appointment of our permanent Head to start in September 2017. A very rigorous selection process involved more than half of the governing body. The post was advertised nationally and we were very pleased with the calibre of the applicants. Following a thorough review and discussion of applications shortlisted candidates were invited to complete a number of tasks and interviews with governors across key areas of Headteacher activity. The final selection process took place over three days and culminated with presentations from three candidates to a panel of governors who also posed consistent questions across key areas of interest and concern. The process had clear transparent and consistent criteria. We were delighted to announce in February that Amanda Simpson, an experienced Headteacher with a successful track record of leadership in education, had been appointed to take up the post in September 2017.
In January we also received an Ofsted (Short inspection). The Chair of Governors met the inspectors as part of this process and explained our approach to governance and the impact that the Governing Body was having. The inspection team’s findings were presented to governors at the end of their visit. A report is available on this website and was in most part very positive with only limited areas for development. Whilst the inspectors noted a number of areas which had improved since the last inspection in 2013, the rating of Good was maintained. For many at the school this was a frustration as there is a great deal that is outstanding about our school. The governors have discussed how the school is responding so as to continually improve in the development areas identified.
Like most schools, this has been a challenging year financially. Governors have been closely involved in monitoring throughout the year. Our broad curriculum has been substantially sustained and we are immensely grateful for the enormous hard work of all our staff who have enabled this to happen. Further pressures however lie ahead and it is clear that investment in premises and IT in particular is being affected.
We continued to develop our plans and approach in relation to the school’s status. A working party of governors is continuing to develop our thinking in such areas as multi academy trust and potential partners and the day to day implications for our school and its students and staff.
In recent months we have been discussing with KCC what role we may have in helping them to meet the substantially increased levels of expected demand for secondary school places. Our basic principles here are that any and all actions in this area must sustain and improve the educational and working experience of our students and staff.
A Governor Action Plan was adopted complementing the School Improvement Plan and supporting and challenging the school in important areas including Academy plans, community networks, overall staff strategy and revenue generation. During the year the Governors used a self-assessment dashboard to assist them in monitoring overall progress for the school, including their own governance effectiveness against key performance indicators aligned to the school’s vision and School Improvement Plan.
Subcommittees and Monitoring
The terms of reference for subcommittees were reviewed, revised where necessary and approved by the FGB ensuring appropriate focus for governance and strategy (rather than management) and monitoring and evaluation of school performance
- The Curriculum and Standards Committee agenda included reviewing the external (GCSE and A level) results, and benchmarking other academic performance data including Most Able and SEN students. There has also been a particular focus on mental health and well-being this year.
- The Personnel Committee considered staffing in general against the backdrop of financial pressure and staff development including leadership and support staff. It also considered reporting in support of human resource management.
- The Resources Committee was very focussed on the very tight financial conditions that the school is facing as a result of the central Government funding policy. Benchmarking of expenses and review of contracts was conducted (as in recent years). There was also a focus on Health and Safety.
- The Pay Committee reviewed the promotion of staff and the affordability of related reward increments.
- The Headteacher’s Review Committee considered arrangements for the departing Headteacher and formalised objectives for our new Acting Headteacher.
During the year an extensive programme of monitoring visits was agreed with the Headteacher to focus on key areas of importance including departments where external results had been disappointing in the previous year or where there was significant change. This included a new standard approach to monitoring reports.
There was a cross committee review of Safeguarding in the school which considered both compliance and effectiveness. The school’s strong tradition in this area was commented on by Ofsted in their inspection this year.
In addition to work in committees and formal monitoring visits Governors were very active in the school attending working groups and visiting the school for formal prize giving and informal events.
In a very good school with high quality and professional staff it is sometimes difficult to assess the impact that the Governing Body is making. In most cases the results of monitoring and committee discussion served to confirm issues that the school’s leadership team were aware of and had plans to address. Indeed the Ofsted Report was consistent with this acknowledging that plans were in place to address the development areas they identified.
Having said that the most important impact of the Governing Body this year has been:
- The recruitment of the Acting Headteacher and new Headteacher – including a diligent focus on candidates’ views about the school’s strategy, ethos and vision
- Driving the broader discussion about the school’s future including consideration of academisation
- Holding the school to account diligently in monitoring and in meetings in important areas teaching and learning, staffing and health and safety
- Supporting the school through in recent times unprecedented financial pressure.