Welcome to our first blog! The Governors of Abercarn Primary School believe termly updates may be beneficial so that you are updated about what has been discussed and agreed at Governing Body meetings.
First a few introductions so you know who your Governors are:
The Chair of Governors is Allan Raybould. Allan is retired and has substantial experience of education having been an extremely successful Secondary School Headteacher at a local school. Allan contributes extensively to our school and challenges / supports the Headteacher effectively.
Our Vice Chair of Governors is Rhona Fry. Rhona is a very experienced Governor and makes valuable contributions to the life and work of the school. Rhona is a Community Governor although many of you will know Rhona as a parent of two children here at Abercarn Primary. Rhona can be regularly seen around school.
Our Parent Governors are elected by parents. We have four Parent Governors: Rachel Beddoe, Dave Matthews, Emma Richards and Dawn Ashley. Each bring valuable skills and experiences to the Governing Body and represent parents extremely well.
Local Authority Governors
We have three Local Authority Governors who many of you will know. Cllr. Andrew Whitcombe, Cllr Denver Preece and Sarah Llewellyn. Both councillors are well known within our community and Sarah is a PE Teacher at a local Secondary School.
Staff and Teacher Governors
The staff of Abercarn Priamry are also represented on the Governing Body. Aimee Harry is the Teacher Governor and Luke Greenslade is the Staff Governor. Both Aimee and Luke are extremely experienced members of staff and contribute effectively to the Governing Body.
Finally, there is me as Headteacher. As Headteacher I am what is known as an “ex officio” Governor. I can decide to be a Governor or not – I have decided to be a Governor.
So what do Governors do?
School Governors are volunteers who help to run the school. They’re involved in decisions about all aspects of managing the school – such as running buildings and budgets, supporting staff, and setting standards of school discipline.
Governors help to make big decisions about the school’s long-term goals. They challenge and support Headteachers, but also ask questions and make sure the Headteacher is taking the school in the right direction.
How often do the Governors of Abercarn Primary meet?
There are six full Governing Body meetings per year (2 per term). Alongside the full Governing Body meetings there are several subcommittee meetings every term such as a Finance and Staff Committees. Governors are also invited into school to take part in learning walks, to talk to pupils and to look at pupils work.
Some things that Governors discussed and agreed so far this year?
Electronic Payment System
- An electronic payment system for paying dinner money etc was discussed in the Autumn Term. The school had already been investigating this with the Local Authority as it was not a straight forward process. However, following discussions with Caerphilly Catering, it has been agreed by the Governors to invest in an appropriate system that meets the requirements of CCBC. This system should be in place during Spring Term 2019.
· Methods of communication were also discussed by Governors following several points raised by parents through Parent Governors. The Governors discussed the different means of communication in place and whilst it was agreed communication methods are effective and there are a range of methods to keep parents informed it was agreed to send out a simple overview sheet to clarify what is used and for what e.g. SeeSaw is used by the class teacher, Text System is for everyone. The overview sheet was sent home by Mr Greenslade in Autumn Term as a result of discussions at Governor Meetings and is also available on our website.
Clubs and Open days
- The range and structure of after school clubs and open days was discussed at Governors as a result of feedback from the Parent survey in Autumn Term 2018. It was acknowledged by Governors that staff cannot be directed to lead an after school club and they are offered in their own time. It was also acknowledged that the range of after school clubs is the most it has ever been given the size of the school with the school participating in Football Tournaments, Dragon Rugby and Cross Country events. The concern regarding first come, first served for a club was discussed and it was agreed to look at alternative methods in the new academic year. The concerns raised by parents regarding Open days were also acknowledged. The system currently in place allocates places when parents telephone the office and if the list is full a reserve list operates and those parents will be first on the list the next time. There is no easy solution to this as there needs to be a limit on the number of people in school at any one time. The school will continue to be as fair as possible and try to ensure all parents have an opportunity during the school year.
- Site Security has always been a priority for Governors. A holding area at the main office was created in Summer 2018 although did not come into force until later in Autumn Term due to several problems with the supply of Fire Doors. High level release buttons were also installed on all exit doors to ensure the security of children. It was acknowledged by Governors that several parents were unhappy with the installation of the holding area but it was agreed to be necessary to ensure the building was fully secure. Electronic Gates have been discussed at Governors regularly. It was agreed by Governors at the start of the Autumn Term to investigate methods to ensure the front gates are locked during the day with an electronic release and intercom to allow visitors to enter the premises. This was actioned and initially it was found to be financially unviable. The school has been actively seeking alternatives and hopefully this should be in place soon.
- Governors regularly track progress against School Development Plan priorities. Governors are responsible for the School development Plan. The Headteacher provides regular updates through termly reports. Good progress is being made against the priorities.
- The Headteacher and Governors are responsible for the school budget. The school receives money from the Local Authority along with grants from the Welsh Government to operate the school every year. The school needs to pay all its own bills such as electricity, gas, rates, grounds, building work etc along with staff salaries. Some money is restricted and can only be spent on certain things hence why some improvements are made in some areas and may not be in others. The costs associated with running a school are substantial. Our school costs nearly £750,000 a year!
- Governors have been tracking progress against the recommendations from the Estyn Inspection in November 2017. Regular updates are provided by the Headteacher in the form of a Headteacher Report to Governors. The recommendations are now included in the School Development Plan rather than in a Post Inspection Action Plan. Good progress has been made against both recommendations.
Target Setting and Standards
- Governors set and agree targets for pupils and the school every year and check progress against these targets regularly. This process was completed in Autumn Term 2018 and will be on going throughout the year. Progress and Standards are reported to Governors by the Headteacher every term. Governors also look at the progress of the school over time and challenge the school to continually make progress.
- Governors agreed to joint fund additional building works with CCBC This includes resurfacing the pathways and roads on the school premises and replacing the fascia board around the school. The pathway condition has been raised by several parents through Parent Governors and all Governors acknowledge the concerns and are pleased works are planned to address the condition of pathways. This work will be undertaken when weather conditions improve and will be undertaken during half term periods owing to the amount of construction / machinery needed to complete the jobs. Parents will notice Mr Watson has also been busy improving the garden area near the main gates and also constructing a small fenced area outside the office. The area outside the office will be a shaded seating area for Years 3 and 4. A sail shade will be in place during the summer months on the 3 tall poles.
The Governors of Abercarn Primary School will continue to keep you updated throughout the year!