Governors Annual Review 2017-18
Welcome to our annual Review of Governance. We hope you will find this update of what we have been up to over the past year useful and informative.
We welcomed two new Parent Governors onto the team at the end of last year, and Bruce Gilliam and Hayley Woods started their first full year as Governors in September. Chris Martin joined us as Staff Governor, and we were delighted to welcome Ashley Meggitt to the Governing Body in March. Ashley is also our Local Authority Governor. Sadly, after 15 years of involvement with Fowlmere School, Sue Raven has retired from being a Governor. She made a valuable contribution to the team and we are grateful for all her hard work over the years. The Governors are also keeping up to date with our training; you can see details of this on the school website. The retirement of Sue Raven means that we will have a vacancy on our Governing Body; we will be conducting elections in September to fill this post and to give new parents a chance to be involved.
The school performed strongly in this year’s SATS (2016-17), with our results exceeding or in line with national averages. We are particularly proud of our Year 6 results, with around half the cohort achieving a higher level in Mathematics and Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling (44% and 56% respectively). Our progress scores are comfortably in line with those achieved by schools which Ofsted has rated Outstanding. We are extremely grateful to our staff and pupils, whose hard work made these excellent results possible.
It felt like Mr Atkin had only just moved into the Headteacher’s office when we got the phone call announcing that Ofsted would be arriving to inspect the school. Due to the enormous amount of hard work put in by the entire school community, we sailed through the inspection and are delighted with our “Good” judgement. The Governors were involved in several stages - from training evenings before the event to ensure we were ready, to the official meeting with the inspection team (for which many Governors had taken leave from their day jobs), and for the final results meeting. For many of our team it was their first experience of the inspection process but it was ultimately a rewarding and valuable learning process.
Many of you will be familiar with Multi Academy Trusts (MAT) through involvement in secondary education. Primary schools also have the option of joining a MAT, although only a minority of primary schools have chosen to do so (schools judged Inadequate by Ofsted are required to join a MAT). As you know, this year we established a new Vision for Fowlmere School; chief amongst our aims for the next 5 years is to provide your children and this community with outstanding education. Our strategic decision making focuses on how best to make this happen. The Governing Body has given serious consideration to academisation over the past 2 years, and have had meetings with the Regional Schools Commissioner, executive leaders from local MATs and headteachers of schools which have chosen to convert. We do not currently believe that any MAT will allow us to achieve our aims any sooner, or with greater efficiency, nor is there any financial benefit or incentive to convert, therefore we are not considering conversion to a MAT. There are considerable overheads to the conversion process and we feel that the time of our Senior Leaders is better spent on driving school improvement. There is considerable flux in the academy sector at the moment and we will be revisiting this decision on an annual basis to ensure it remains the correct one for the school. The Government has dropped its requirement for all schools to convert to academies by 2020.
Cambridgeshire County Council has taken the decision to introduce the new National Funding Formula in one go, rather than staggering it out over three years as many other local authorities are doing. The new funding formula is designed to reduce inequality in school funding that have historically existed between local authorities, with Cambridgeshire schools generally having received less money than comparable schools in other local authorities. However, as the new funding formula is heavily dependent on school roll numbers, small schools in particular are significantly worse off under the new formula. This year we have triggered the Minimum Funding Guarantee, which limits our decrease in funding to 1.5% per pupil for this year. This is the case for all small primary schools in Cambridgeshire. We are also being asked to do more and more with the money we do receive.
The After School Club (ASC) committee have been working tirelessly to secure funding for a separate building or extension to the School which will allow Fowlmere Playgroup to move up to the school site, and ASC to have its own space. This will allow the School Hall to be used for extra-curricular activities after the school day has finished. The Committee has worked with the Local Authority to ensure that Fowlmere School and Playgroup are the beneficiaries of any Section 106 monies which are the result of development within the village.
In April 2018, we invited parents and carers to share their opinion of Fowlmere School through our annual parent survey. We had responses from 48 individuals, an increase on last year’s response rate of 36. Overall the results are very positive; the overwhelming majority of you reported that your children feel safe in school, enjoy learning and are making good progress. We are also pleased to see that you feel school management is effective and that you find staff approachable. You can find the summary of responses on the school website and, combined with our Staff and Pupil questionnaires, we use them to help shape the direction our school will take over the next year.
We received a really positive response to the new School Values and Vision. For anyone unfamiliar with these, they are available on the School Website, and to ensure that parents and carers continue to be informed about the activities of the Governors, we will be producing termly updates from the Governing Body starting from next year. After a period of rapid change over the past two terms, the Governors are working with the School to ensure that our new Values are really embedded within the school. This will help cement the improvements in behaviour that you have seen over the past year. We have worked hard to ensure we have an excellent team of permanent staff who will continue to push up academic standards
Many of you wanted to see Fowlmere School offer a greater range of extra-curricular activities. As mentioned above, operating our own After School club means the space available to clubs outside of the core school day is unfortunately limited. We are working to ensure we can offer a greater range of activities, and key to this is securing additional space for after school provision.