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Governors' Impact Statement

GOVERNORS’ IMPACT STATEMENT
FOR  ROYAL PARK AND GRAY'S FARM PRIMARY ACADEMIES

The academic year 2016/17 was a transitional period for the Governors of Grays Farm. This was to be the first full year of operating as a Local Governing body (which was formed in January 2016 to take over take over from the previous Interim Executive Board) and was intended build on the successes of the previous year. The meeting structure followed that of the IEB with a single meeting (with no sub committees) to discuss all aspects of the governance of the school, with each governor having ‘portfolio responsibility’ for a specific aspect of the school’s activities. As the OFSTED assessment of the school had now been raised to ‘good’, it was felt that monthly meetings were no longer necessary and a bi-monthly schedule of meetings was adopted with effect from the beginning of the Spring Term.

Coinciding with the commencement of the year there was a change in the school’s Senior Management Team, with Gianni Bianchi, the Executive Head, moving on to take up further responsibilities within TKAT and being replaced by Louise Lynch, who would act as joint Executive Head of both Grays Farm and Royal Park in Bexley. There were obvious synergies between the two schools and with the developing professional relationship between the two schools and the sharing of good practice; it became apparent that some form of joint governance would further enhance this relationship. Therefore, much work was done during the Spring term to discuss the best way in which the structures, activities and responsibilities of the two governing bodies could be merged and these ideas were then tried out and put into practice during the Summer Term.

The main work of the Local Governing Body of Grays Farm can be summarised in the following table:-

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Activity/subject area

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Impact

Finance and Resources

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Approval of budget and continuing monitoring and scrutiny of expenditure

The school has a balanced budget, resources are allocated to support those areas of the most need in line with the school development plan and there was no overspend. In addition, the school had a positive financial audit.

Approval and prioritisation of proposals for large areas of expenditure for maintenance and building improvement.

A more focused approach to this aspect of expenditure and obtaining value for money in supporting the curriculum and the school development plan.

Improved entrance area and reception desk, which has made the school more ‘welcoming’, allowed more space for circulation and has improved physical security.

School policies

Scrutiny/review of all school policies on a rolling 2-year timetable

All policies remain relevant, up to date and fit for purpose.

Identifying ‘gaps’ in additional policies and procedures

Introduction of a ‘lockdown’ procedure designed to protect children and staff in event of the presence of an armed or violent intruder.

Health and Safety

Ensuring that the school is compliant with the relevant legislation, that effective processes are in place and that risk assessments are undertaken when and where appropriate

The school had a positive Health and Safety Audit, with no areas of concern being disclosed

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Performance management

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Scrutiny of attendance management data

More effective procedures for persistent absence and poor attendance leading to an overall improvement of absence figures

Scrutiny of data relating to progress and attainment

Improved formats for the collation and analysis of data, leading to earlier interventions

Classroom visits and attendance of internal meetings by governors

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Improved liaison between governors and staff making the governors less distant and more approachable

Introduction

2016-17 was a year of much change and transition for Royal Park School. In September 2016, the school became an academy, joining the TKAT, (The Kemnal Academies Trust) family of schools. Whilst the day to day life of our staff and pupils remains unchanged, there has been much to do, at strategic level, to accommodate the different requirements and systems expected by TKAT.

Effective governance

Having streamlined the governing body to just six full meetings a year, with no committees, the work of the governing body has become more efficient and focused, with all governors contributing to decision making in all areas. This approach has given the governors additional resilience and an added overall knowledge base supporting our work. The bureaucratic demands on school staff have also been significantly diminished.

Governors understand their responsibilities and continue to monitor their own training requirements to meet specific roles and accountabilities through training or through recruiting governors with specific skills.

In January 2017, having previously agreed the idea in principle, governors explored further the possibility of forming a joint governing body with Grays Farm Primary Academy. A draft paper setting out a clear rationale was thoroughly discussed, amended and approved. That statement forms the ‘blueprint’ for the work of the new joint governing body, which has been now in existence for just one term. We are already seeing some positive impact: less duplication of effort for the senior leaders of each school and reduced demands on their time; some helpful sharing of governor expertise; establishing common reporting systems that both schools can use.

Vision 

The governors of Royal Park and Grays Farm both hold to their vision of the moral principle of doing what is best for the pupils, and aiming to raise the attainments of all pupils to the highest level possible. As a result, overall good standards are being maintained in both schools.

Budget

There has been much work to do to transfer our accounting system to TKAT. However, continuing updates from our Finance Manager have enabled governors to keep a clear track of income and expenditure and to ensure that budget targets have been met. Questions from governors have been carefully followed up from meeting to meeting. This rigorous approach has continued with the new joint governing body.

Staffing structures

Following the appointment of Miss Lynch, Headteacher, to the role of Executive Headteacher of both Royal Park and Grays Farm academies, the governors agreed role descriptions for the Executive Head Teacher and the Associate Headteachers in each school. They continue to monitor the extent to which these role descriptions are helpful and fit for purpose.

Governors agreed a proposal for restructuring the school office and administrative systems. As a result, respective roles and responsibilities have been made clearer.

The joint governing body agreed a revised Senior Leadership Structure for both schools, Royal Park and Grays Farm. As a result, sustainability for senior leadership across both schools is more secure and the schools’ finances stay within budget constraints.

Royal Park governors were reassured to hear how well newly qualified teachers are supported and inducted in the school, as there was a significant number of such teachers joining the school at the start of the year. Similarly, they were keen to find out about teachers leaving the school and exit interviews. School leaders were happy to take up the governors’ recommendation that records be kept of these, bearing in mind that these are confidential matters to be managed by the school, as is the case with return to work interviews.

Collaboration

The establishment of an Executive Headteacher for Royal Park and Grays Farm Academies has facilitated helpful sharing of expertise and training, particularly for middle managers, who are having a more evident impact on improving the quality of learning and teaching in classrooms.

Performance Management

A governor from each school worked closely with the TKAT Senior Director of Education to set and review the Headteachers’ targets. Pay Award recommendations were ratified by the governors’ Pay Committee.

School Improvement

Governors have received regular and detailed reports on progress with the school’s improvement plan and continue to ask probing and relevant questions. They have explored, for example, differences between the achievements of boys and girls, the progress of different year groups and progress in writing. This has been in the context of overall good outcomes for our pupils. The linking of individual governors to priorities on the school improvement plan has enabled those governors to look at the impact of improvements actions in classrooms. Their subsequent written reports to governors have been most informative, strengthening the governors’ monitoring role. Governors supported the new statement setting out the school’s approach to planning to meet the needs of pupils, benefitting additional funding through the Pupil Premium. The report format being used helpfully gives greater detail for governors to scrutinise.

Policies and procedures

The new joint governing body has set in place a clear programme for reviewing key policies and procedures, such as safeguarding. The impact of this is yet to be established but governors are confident that this will better facilitate their monitoring of the schools’ effective implementation of policies and procedures.