Academic Year 2022/23
Across the country school governors have been faced with a number of challenges this year. Recovery from the lost education and socialisation of the pandemic and associated mental health concerns have been accompanied by national shortages of able teachers, especially but not restricted to STEM, and related further disruption through industrial action.
At TWGSB we are not immune to these challenges. We are grateful for the support we receive from our parents and wider community, our values, traditions and ethos and the talent, pragmatism and optimism of the staff who deliver for us.
Against this backdrop, governors have adopted a supportive but consistently robust approach. This year our focus has been on:
- Teaching and Learning
- Safeguarding and Well-being
- Sound Finance
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Learning Environment
- Governor Effectiveness
Teaching and Learning
- We have conducted an extensive monitoring visits programme covering Maths, English, Science, Modern Foreign Languages and Music. This has informed our understanding and enabled us to monitor stretch and consistency across the curriculum.
- Within our Curriculum and Standards Committee, we explored progress data across all Key Stages and for our vulnerable students. Monitoring visits reviewed SEND and Pupil Premium.
- We also challenged the school to consider the opportunities offered by technology and reviewed a new Digital Strategy.
Safeguarding and Well-being
- Governors received and reviewed safeguarding reports each term which had been discussed in detail between our safeguarding governor and the school’s Designated Safeguarding Lead who also presented to the Board at the start of the year. We continued to focus on both the substance and systems supporting effective safeguarding.
- We were delighted to support the school’s successful initiative to achieve a recognised Well-being Award with dedicated Student Well-being Governors appointed. We continue to support and promote the school’s extensive programme, including counselling and life coaching, which is so much grounded in the school’s caring culture.
- A sub-committee of the FGB focused exclusively on Staff Development and Well-being. We explored how we might help and support and reward our staff within the financial constraints that are imposed on us.
- Monthly monitoring through the school year was accompanied by stringent review of budgets, out-turns and procurement. Scenario planning has provided further insight to support the school’s spending decisions.
- We worked closely with the school to monitor and mitigate inflationary pressures, especially in energy supply.
Diversity and Inclusion
Recognising our special responsibilities as a grammar school, we reviewed all aspects of our approach and supported the development of a new and comprehensive set of Equality Objectives to promote and support accessibility and success for all, especially those facing financial hardship.
We are grateful to KCC for the investments that they have made in recent years in our school at Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks and for the support provided by parents and our community that have enabled so much improvement. We have been keen to ensure that our buildings are maintained properly and also to address the need for further improvement where we consider that a much better working environment ought to be provided for our pupils and staff. We are currently working with the school on plans to improve Science and our staff facilities at the Tunbridge Wells campus.
- We held our first Governor Day in February. We discussed the school’s strategy and our response to the schools’ White Paper, including academisation. We also met staff and students to help us to understand their perspectives. Our communication and relationships with our key stakeholders are something for continual diligence.
- As a governing body, we conducted a comprehensive skills audit and governance self-evaluation. We were delighted to welcome a number of new governors to the Board over the course of this year. We are also pleased that three of our associate members have remained with us over the last 18 months or so and we are appreciative of the broad and deep skills, and the fresh and different perspectives that they bring. We are also immensely appreciative of the contribution of our longer-standing governors who continue to make an invaluable contribution through their significant knowledge, skills and experience.
Philip Drew, Chair of Governors