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How effective has the Governing Body been?

The Governing Body, working closely with the Headteacher and senior management, is responsible for the strategic direction of the school. We are expected to challenge and support the staff team as they implement the school’s operational plan.

The following review identifies some of the key things we have done during the academic year 2010-11, measured against the areas of responsibility for Governors identified by Ofsted.

As of 1st January 2012, the Ofsted criteria are being revised and we will feed back on the Governing Body’s effectiveness for 2011-12 against the new criteria.

  • Compliance with statutory requirements

After careful consideration and consultation with stakeholders, including staff, parents and students, the Governing Body decided that Saffron Walden County High School should become an Academy. Conversion was completed on 1st June 2011. Governors have put in place a governance structure that is designed to ensure that the school continues its commitment to achieving excellence for all, maintaining and building on the school’s comprehensive ethos and our ambition to be a local school of exceptional quality.

The Governing Body completed its annual review of the Terms of Reference for its committees and established the structure for the successful conversion to Academy status.

All of the School’s policies and procedures were subject to an annual review.

The school passed a FMSIS (Financial Management Standard in Schools) inspection, the out-turn of which was reported to the Governor’s Finance Committee in November 2010. Shortly after the school had completed all the work involved, Michael Gove announced that he was scrapping this standard because it was "complex and burdensome."

The Governors’ Finance Committee completed a review of the school’s internal controls in September 2010.

The Head teacher’s annual appraisal was completed and reported to the Personnel Committee in October 2010.

A review of staff recruitment and staff requirements for 2011-12 was considered by the Personnel Committee in June 2011.

The Finance Committee considered the budget out-turn for 2010/11 and the proposed budget for 2011/12 in April 2011, and a draft budget for the school when reconstituted as an Academy in June 2011.

  • Health & Safety and well-being of staff and pupils

The school undertook a full Staff Training Programme which was reviewed together with the Staff Conduct Policy and the Staff Performance Management framework by the Personnel Committee in October 2010.

Exit interviews were conducted with staff leaving at the end of the summer term, and a summary of the outcome of these was discussed by the Personnel Committee in June 2011.

The Education Committee continued to monitor safeguarding issues, receiving updates and reports when required.

  • Community Cohesion and inclusive practice (including special educational needs, race equality, disability and gender equality)

These issues were covered by reports to the Education Committee and Full Governing Body.

The School’s Community Cohesion Policy was reviewed and approved by the Education Committee in December 2010.

  • Knowledge of the work of the school/monitoring and evaluation of the school’s performance

The school has a systematic programme of area reviews, each of which is supported by an expert from outside of the school. The reports from these, together with action plans for improvement, are considered by the Education Committee. In 2010-11, the following areas/year groups were reviewed:

  • PE
  • Technology
  • Year8
  • English
  • Year 10
  • Vocational Education

The Personnel Committee received termly reports on staffing.

Property and maintenance issues were reviewed each term by the Property Services Committee, which also agreed priorities for premises development in January 2011. The summer maintenance programme was reviewed in July 2011 and the ICT action plan in January 2011.

Curriculum developments were reviewed by the Education Committee in December 2010 and May 2011. The same meetings also received reports on post-16 (sixth form) developments.

The school’s statutory soft federation with Mountfichet Mathematics and Computing College was reviewed by the Full Governing Body in July 2011

The major redevelopment of the school’s hall to provide a new auditorium/concert hall was a significant item reviewed by the Full Governing Body in advance of the start on site in July 2011.

  • Setting priorities for improvement and monitoring/evaluation of improvement plans

In January 2011 the Full Governing Body reviewed the School’s Strategic Plan and our Self Evaluation against Ofsted’s criteria.

A paper on Teaching & Learning excellence was reviewed by the Education Committee in December 2010, with a further report on progress in May 2011.

The School’s Staffing Plan was reviewed by the Personnel Committee in February 201.

  • Governing Body skills and expertise match needs of school and how effectively these are used to improve outcomes for pupils

The Governing body reviewed its Committee membership in September 2010 and also confirmed ‘Link Governor’ appointments.

The Governing body aims to appoint ‘Link Governors’ to each subject area and other operational areas. Governors visit their link area, meet staff and observe lessons. Feedback reports are circulated and, when appropriate, discussed at Full Governing Body meetings. ‘Link Governors’ aim to provide a ‘face’ to the Governing Body for staff and to feedback issues for further discussion.

  • Understanding school’s performance data, how well pupils are achieving compared to those in other schools, how different groups of pupils are achieving

Exam results, value added data and comparison information with other schools have all been discussed in detail at both Full Governing Body meetings and the Education Committee

  • Ensuring school targets are achievable and sufficiently challenging

The Annual Report received through the School Improvement Partner

Programme was reviewed by the Full Governing Body in July 2011

Reports are presented on an on-going basis to the Education Committee.

  • Barriers to learning, attendance and behaviour issues

Pastoral reports were considered by the Education Committee in December 2010 and May 2011. These included attendance information and details of exclusions.

  • Development of governors’ skills and knowledge and holding leaders to account

Through the Finance Committee, the Governing Body closely monitors the financial performance of the school and the expenditure of school resources. Monitoring reports were considered in September 2010, November 2010, April 2011 and June 2011.

A Governor acts as ‘Responsible Officer’, working with an external consultant to ensure good practice is maintained.

A Governor Induction training session was held in March 2011, for new Governors and others who wished to update their training.

Governor training in 2010-11 covered the following subjects:

  • Operating as an Academy
  • Leadership responsibilities
  • New Ofsted framework
  • Consult and gather views of users and stakeholders, taking views into account in future planning

The Governing Body has continued to hold an Annual Meeting for Parents each November, to review the previous academic year, look forward to the future and answer questions in an open forum. Although attendance is low, Governors feel this is an important opportunity for parents to raise any issues that they would like the Governing Body to discuss.

‘Parent Voice’ has also provided a framework for parental engagement and to receive feedback.

The Governing Body undertook a major consultation with parents, staff, pupils and other stakeholders before deciding to convert to Academy Status in June 2011.

Significant consultation was required in order to achieve planning consent for the new auditorium, enabling work to start on site in July 2011.

Mark Hayes

Chair of Saffron Academy Trust

  •  Leading Edge