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Governor Blog - December 2020 - Andrew Vaughan - Parent Governor

Happy New Year!  Perhaps 2021 hasn’t started in the way that we all had imagined or wished for, but I hope everyone is keeping safe and as well as possible in these unsettling times. Once again we need to adjust our understanding of education to fit in a world of remote learning as we enter our third national lockdown.

As a new governor, approaching my first year in role, I wanted to use this blog post to reflect on a year of crisis, creativity and collaboration. I myself am a parent of a child in year 3 and have found this last year one of constant challenge. I, like many of you  have had to adjust to working from home or living at work! Balancing home schooling and the need to stay safe has often been overwhelming, but resilience, creativity and kindness have all been needed more than ever during this unprecedented time.

My role as parent governor started in February 2020, just before the first Covid 19 lockdown. After my initial induction and school tour, I attended my first Local Governing Board (LGB) meeting on March 11, when the severity and magnitude of the Covid crisis was only staring to surface. It is hard to imagine that this would be the only time that I would meet my new governor colleagues in person!

It was lovely to spend time in mid February to walk around the school with Mr Lenton and observe first hand the wonderful standard of teaching and learning in progress.How I took that tour for granted! Little did I know then that life was on the cusp of change and soon we all would inhabit a world of zoom, teams meetings, daily briefings and social distancing.

All subsequent Local Governing Board (LGB) meetings have been online via Microsoft teams calls. It has been a privilege for me to join these monthly meetings remotely, to learn the ropes of how to effectively challenge monitor and support the school’s strategy and vision. As governors we aim to offer high support and high challenge to ensure that the outstanding standard of teaching and learning at Boughton Heath Academy continues regardless of external circumstances.

Throughout my first year I have had the opportunity to undertake governor training to expand my knowledge and understanding of the school governance role. I have attended local training offered through the CAT trust and national modules through the National Governance Association (NGA). From September 2020 I have taken on link Governor responsibility for Pupil Premium & Looked After Children and I look forward to working with the school to support this important area over the next months and years. Part of the first year in role has been familiarising myself with the school vision, development plan and the overall ethos of the Cheshire Academies Trust. My personal background as an artist, creative facilitator and educationalist has enabled me to specialise in how everyday creativity can be used as a tool to inform learning across all aspects of life and curriculum areas.

Whilst reading policies, documents and mission statements it was extremely encouraging for me to see that the Cheshire Academies Trust champion creativity and collaboration as their core values.

“To grow our community of academies in order to deliver collaborative approaches to school improvement while providing rich creative experiences for children to enjoy and remember”

During the difficulties brought on by the lockdown restrictions of the Covid pandemic we have needed both creativity and collaboration in spades. Luckily, we have seen both being applied in abundance across our Boughton Heath community!

Everyday Creativity

The trust describes everyday creativity in its vision as:

“Learning requires ingenuity and deliberate innovative thinking. We work to provide the space and opportunity for leaders and teachers to express themselves and take risks.”

This has certainly been echoed in practice over the last few months. Creativity or finding creative solutions to problems has been called upon throughout.

Innovative leadership has enabled teachers, staff, pupils and parents to reimagine how learning is constructed and delivered. Keeping us safe and engaged has been paramount. Switching to home learning has felt seamless to me. The pre-thinking and structured plan put in place during the Autumn term by Mr Ellis, Mr Lenton and team has enabled this to be rolled out in an instant. Even though I have had to juggle spaces around the house to accommodate three people to work effectively, this lockdown was ready for learning!

The issue of access to digital technology and data was discussed by the governance team early on in the pandemic, aiming to overcome any potential barrier to effective remote learning. The procurement of computers for all key stage 2 pupils is a learning lifeline.  This support aims to ensure that all children have a level playing field and an opportunity to succeed and achieve their potential, reducing the disruption of learning in this third national lockdown.

Teachers have shown that they are the ultimate creatives, they have been asked to reimagine teaching!

Seesaw and Microsoft Teams have overnight become the go to educational toolkits of choice. Delivering remote live lessons (and class book trays by hand!) or by filming instructional tasks, staff at BHA have enabled our children to keep on learning whether at home or in school bubbles. For this, I thank all of the staff personally and on behalf of the Local Governing Board (LGB) team for their tireless efforts, hard work and creative can do mind set.

Creative solutions were found to ensure that children did not miss out on some of the annual highlights, like the Xmas concert. Filming outside whilst socially distancing the whole school is no mean feat. But what a wonderful result, and one that I am sure brought a tear to many a festive eye.

Collaboration

The school also places strong importance on collaborative practice. This period in history will be defined by how we all worked together to stay safe and collectively move through this unprecedented time. Wearing face coverings at drop off or pick up times, keeping a safe distance when waiting for our children outside the classroom or simply following the one way system around the school site are just some of the ways that we have all helped keep BHA Covid safe.

Pulling together as a school community to support each other is exactly what I feel has helped me through. Sometimes it has felt hard to balance learning, work, lockdowns and parenting. Lockdown has amplified feelings of being isolated, but knowing how the school is trying to support wellbeing has made me feel less alone and that we are all in this together. There are some wonderful resources on the school website to support wellbeing for both adults and children. Here is the link if you have not looked already;

https://www.boughtonheath.cheshire.sch.uk/cheshire/primary/boughtonheath/site/pages/coronovirus/wellbeing

Knowing that this support is there has made this latest lockdown feel different for me. It has been a joy to occasionally overhear lessons and watch structured learning return to my household! I know that things must be working as at the end of the last lockdown my daughter’s handwriting had succumbed to a spidery scrawl. With routine and daily structure, contact to her teacher and class friends (albeit remotely) her writing remains neat and legible (At least for now!) and her love of learning alive!

I will finish this blog by once again thanking everyone for their collaborative support through these unusual past few months. A huge thank you and hats off has to go to all of our wonderful teaching and support staff. They have gone above and beyond as usual and have demonstrated creativity and collaboration in reams. Massive thanks must also go to Mr Lenton, our new acting Head of School who has navigated these times with strong leadership and a smile, enabling Mr Ellis to further his work as CEO for the trust.

Thank you to all,

Stay safe :)

Andrew Vaughan, Parent Governor

Governor Blog – November 2020 Helen Patterson, Parent Governor

Well – what a year 2020 has been.  A pandemic, American election, home schooling, uncertainty and relentless change. As a parent, a NHS key worker and a governor I have had my fair share of challenges that have tested my resilience and patience. This has encouraged me, more than ever to reflect on my parenting, the current world my children are exposed to and what I can do to support and scaffold them emotionally and academically. At the same time giving myself permission not to be ok, to have a wobble and to practice self-care. What a steep learning curve!

This blog is written as a parent (Y5 child and Y3 child) and a governor; a parent governor, and my experience from ‘masked’ health club drop off,  playground pick up,  combined with what I have learnt about Boughton Heath Academy behind the scenes at a strategic level.  As you are all aware, you can access the minutes of the Local Governing Board (LGB) meetings on the Boughton Heath Academy (BHA) website if you would like more detail on what we discuss.   The board hasn’t been meeting face to face but we have been making full use of Microsoft teams and continue to challenge monitor and support the school’s strategy.

I am passionate about our children’s education and wellbeing both of which have been magnified during this pandemic. I am frequently floored by the effort, creativity, collaboration and motivation of the team in BHA.  I am sure that being human, they are, like me being challenged daily, yet they still give 100% for our children. I know this from governor meetings, from seeing the majority of children skip, chatter and smile at pick up, and from stories my own children are telling me about their teachers.

Ongoing creativity, collaboration and innovative thinking has put everything in place in school to support and continue to educate our children in BHA.  A learning environment where pupils and staff can be healthy and happy. There are outside sinks to ensure time isn’t wasted waiting for children to handwash.  Imagine if they all had to queue up to handwash in the toilets and the time this would take out of their day.  Our children know how to wash their hands properly now, as a parent of two reluctant hand washers this is a milestone! We have a fantastic resource in Teams so that children if off and isolating will not miss out.  Selfishly for me, this has the added benefit of enabling me to parent rather than teach my children – I simply do not have the patience, time and skills that our BHA teachers have.

I have seen evidence that our children have not been as disadvantaged as we all initially thought due to being locked down and stuck at home for so many months. Their overall reading and maths is going the right way. Writing is known to need more input and the teachers are on it!  I would like to make it clear that this is not just the BHA picture but the picture when benchmarked across the UK. BHA and our kids are not alone! For those of you who are interested have a look here https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/hmci-commentary-findings-from-visits-in-october

This year the LGB are meeting in December 20 so we continue to monitor, support and challenge senior leaders and BHA during this very challenging time.  My specific role in the LGB is safeguarding and wellbeing.  I am often around at school pick up if you have any questions for the LGB.  So as the nights draw in lets continue to support, celebrate, collaborate and creatively scaffold the future for our children.  In the words of high school musical ‘We’re all in this together!’

New Governor Blog- September 2020

Welcome to the New Academic Year 2020-2021 

As governors, we were absolutely delighted that Mr Ellis, Mr Lenton and the staff could welcome all the children back as a school community at the start of September. For many children it was over five months since they had been inside the school, as they received various amounts of home-schooling; for others it was the length of the usual summer holiday after a surreal half term before.  The Year 6 children were the pioneers of the virtual school for a few weeks when in Year 5, giving them the opportunity to receive face to face teaching, see their peers on screen, as well as being connected to their class. For the staff it was a period of uncertainty as they supported the vulnerable and key-worker children in school and worked from home preparing for the new school year. The return for everyone is school life in times of COVID 19. 
 
Throughout the lockdown period we as governors have continued our role in the background. It has, as everyone knows, been the strangest change and situation a school has ever had to deal with - I experienced many challenges in my Headship but none as testing and complicated as COVID. Mr Ellis had to read, digest and act upon countless government guidelines to ensure the safety of the children and their access to learning, as his paramount priority. I also joined online conferences and webinars as we discussed and dealt with the situation at hand. 
 
Lockdown is a period of our history we hope is never repeated in the same isolating manner. So many parents had to deal with full time working from home - a challenge in itself - with the added responsibility of home schooling: a daunting task at the best of times but with no warning or time to prepare it became a great juggling act. I know many parents worked late into the evenings as they shared teaching their children with their own work, to put in the hours needed - an exhausting challenge. 
 
As a school we followed the government guidelines, creating a bespoke website page for Coronavirus support with help and signposts to the current school curriculum and other websites, both information and interactive, to support children’s learning. Also, on the school website is the year group topic work. I, as a grandparent and retired Headteacher, was called upon to home-school my grandchildren aged 3 - 10! Each morning I logged on at 9.00 to start my morning’s teaching on screen in hour sessions to the different age groups - nursery, Years 1, 3 and 5. For the topic work for the Year 3 and 5, I used the planning from BHA. It was an excellent way to monitor the quality and depth of learning on offer. Although the situation meant we couldn’t manage all the activities, those we could do engaged, motivated and inspired my two, as they created some interesting models, tried various activities and researched with enthusiasm; I was impressed with the development of the topics from the school. 
 
In our virtual governors’ meetings, we have been keen to hear feedback from our BHA parents. We are aware there has been some mixed feeling regarding contact at the beginning of lockdown, nevertheless have resolved this through phone calls and other means. The parents’ questionnaire will help us to reflect and respond accordingly in the future. Already the ‘Meet the Teacher’ sessions have been adapted from requests of parents for particular information. 
 
One of our next objectives as governors is to review our vision in light of the current situation. We need to look ahead to include for example, facilities such as face to face virtual teaching, a mechanism which has been trialled and is in place ready for when and if it is needed. We are in uncertain times – local self-isolating could happen at any time, so it is imperative that as a school BHA can continue to keep to its core moral purpose of safeguarding its children and providing the highest quality education possible. 
 
As governors we will continue to support and challenge the school to ensure the high quality of education the BHA children have always received, continues regardless of the climate within which we are working. 

Kate Lee 

Chair of Governors

End of Year Blog: Janet Myers July 2019

End of Term – 18th July 2019 – Janet Myers

I can’t believe that it’s the end of another school year, and the end of my second year as chair of the local governing body at Boughton Heath.  It’s been a busy couple of years.  We have:

  • fundamentally changed the way that we work as a local governing body by moving away from a committee structure towards a flat structure so that all governors participate in discussion and decision making about every area of school life. 
  • welcomed five new governors to our board, including one parent and two members of staff. 
  • worked with the trust to ensure a successful transition to a new leadership model, including the recruitment of a new deputy headteacher.
  • worked with staff to begin to create a new vision and strategy for the school, taking into consideration the views of parents and pupils.
  • strengthened our focus on the progress of every pupil, and the systems used to evaluate this.
  • continued to ensure that the school provides a broad and balanced curriculum, and supported plans to enhance the curriculum in the unstructured parts of the day, e.g. lunchtime.
  • ensured that the school continues to provide a great education whilst operating within increasingly tight budgets. 
  • increased our understanding of our role as the committee of a trust board, enhanced our communication with the trust, and strengthened our collaboration with other local governing bodies in the trust.

A year ago, I became a trustee of Cheshire Academies Trust.  As a trust, we believe that governance roles should be separate, so that responsibilities are clear.  We therefore agreed that I would step down as a governor at Boughton Heath at the end of this academic year, ie 31st August 2019.  The local governing body began a process of succession planning, recruiting Kate Lee the board.  She is a very capable, recently retired headteacher who had expressed an interest in becoming a future chair.  With the full support of the local governing body, Kate undertook the National Governance Association’s nine-month Development for Chairs programme and decided that she would be willing to be considered as chair.  On Wednesday of this week, Kate was unanimously elected as chair and will take over from me on 1st September.  You can read more about Kate and the rest of our local governing team here https://www.boughtonheath.cheshire.sch.uk/cheshire/primary/boughtonheath/site/pages/governance/localgoverningbody

I have really enjoyed getting to know such a lovely school and working with your fantastic staff and governors, and am looking forward to continuing to work with Boughton Heath and the rest of the schools in the trust in the next academic year. 

Thank you for everything that you do to support the school.  I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer. 

 

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors (for a few more weeks!)

Governor Blog for May - Helen Patterson, Safeguarding Governor

I hope that everyone is enjoying the weather.  For me, the sun means washing on the line, kids running away from insects and suntan cream whilst repeatedly asking for ice-cream, BBQs and reading in the garden whilst avoiding the inevitable water pistol fight!

As part of my role as Safeguarding Governor, I have been reading and developing my understanding of safeguarding within the educational system. To do this, I have accessed courses and read/continue to read a number of government documents regarding safeguarding e.g. Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2018.  The school must be up to date and able to evidence sound safeguarding for our children.  Essentially, I have a role in ensuring that the responsibilities delegated by the Trust Board in relation to safeguarding and child protection are fulfilled by the Local Governing Body (LGB) and am the link between the LGB and Boughton Heath Academy for safeguarding matters. The day to day management of safeguarding issues is the responsibility of the senior leadership team (SLT) at the academy.

Safeguarding is discussed in all LGB meetings, the minutes of which can be found on the BHA website.  The school’s safeguarding policy can be found on the BHA website and is updated annually. Mr Lenton is now the school’s Designated Safeguarding lead and the go-to member of staff for any safeguarding issues.  Mr Ellis is the deputy safeguarding lead.

We recently had a review of the school’s safeguarding to ensure we are doing absolutely everything we should and can to keep children safe.  An Independent Children Safeguarding Consultant spent a day in the school reviewing policies and procedures, speaking to children, staff, and myself to get a full picture of how safeguarding works at Boughton Health.  Parents were included in this review as questionnaires were reviewed (It is so valuable to have parents’ feedback from the questionnaires sent out on ping). 

He stated that:

  • Both staff and pupils know who to talk to if there is a concern.
  • That there is relevant training for staff to ensure a common understanding of meeting children’s well-being.
  • There is evidence that concerns or issues are followed through.
  • There were no failings or significant concerns regarding the schools commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children.
  • He felt that there could be more displays around the school on keeping safe and well-being from the children’s perspective.
  • Pupils said that they feel they could talk to anyone, staff, teachers, friends and also the Head Teacher. They said that they were always being told/reminded about keeping safe.

We are pleased with the summary and recommendations of this survey and Boughton Health is always seeking out opportunities to improve what it does.  

It is an ongoing pleasure to be part of the team in Boughton Health Academy.  Seeing the enormity of work that goes on behind the scenes to benefit our children goes above and beyond government expectations.  Actually, spending time in the school has taught me how the school is run, how supportive and cohesive the staff are and most importantly as a parent Governor how much the team do for our children whilst keeping a smile on their faces.  I hope all the hard working children, parents and Boughton Health Staff have a happy half term. 

One year on – the perspective of a new governor

One year ago, I was elected to the local governing body of Boughton Heath Academy. I am local to Great Boughton. I adore our area, the history, richness and diversity of our community and all that it has to offer. I applied for a role in governance on the belief that I should pay it forward and contribute to keeping that community alive and the best it can be.

I was given responsibility for governor training a few months after my appointment to the board. The skill set offered by the governing body is one that we should be proud of. Our expertise spans many sectors: local and national heavyweight financial institutions; adult and child development; international marketing; mechanical engineering; retired and current education specialists to name a few. For my part I am a (secondary school) teacher, which is why I relish being able to hold a head teacher to account as a break from the norm. Incidentally, it keeps me in a perfect position to relay any changes on the educational horizon that we might need to train our governors about.

The changes in education are many at the moment. A new Ofsted framework means that the criteria by which we monitor and govern school are being overhauled. We are aiming for oversight on a number of new ideas that have come to the fore – including new angles on what quality of education for our children means. As governors, we do everything we can do to keep abreast of anything that might impact on BHA. To that end, as a minimum, we have

  • participated in online training;
  • participated in face-to-face training sessions;
  • liaised with other local governing bodies;
  • read and discussed numerous government strategy documents.

 

All this in order to put ourselves in the strongest position to let the extremely talented team at BHA do what they do best: provide opportunities, ensure continued safety and ongoing pedagogical excellence so that our children - our local community - can be the best it can be.

Thank you for your continued support of the work that all of the team do here.

Rob Herd

Training Governor

A message from the Chair of Governors - Kate Lee, September 2019

I am delighted to be writing the first blog for this academic year in my new role as chair of the local governing body for Boughton Heath Academy (BHA). It is a role I am excited to undertake, in fact have been preparing for over the past twelve months with the encouragement and support from Janet Myers, our retiring chair, plus the rest of the governing body! I thank you all for your support, especially to Janet Myers, who has been an excellent mentor. The National Governance Development for Chairs programme has been of great interest to me; being a chair of governors is a very different role from being a headteacher governor, which I once was. Instead of being the person generating the reports and information about the school, it is a case of analysing, questioning and subsequently supporting the content of the reports to create sufficient challenge to ensure Boughton Heath continues to be the excellent school it is today; a role I shall endeavour to carry out to the best of my ability.

As you will have read in our governor profiles, my whole career has been in primary teaching, from the classroom, to deputy, to acting head, to headteacher – a career I thoroughly enjoyed throughout. The challenges and responsibility were part of the absolute reward of the job. It is a joy and a privilege to be part of the professional network that helps ensure all children have the best possible education. It was when being an inspector for Ofsted that I realised how diverse schools are, nevertheless, they provide, or at least are held account to provide a first class education for each and every child’s future. The passion I have had for this did not disappear as I retired; I therefore sought to be a member of a governing body to continue my enthusiasm.

Over the past year I have become involved and feel very connected to BHA. We have a highly skilled governing body, an experienced leadership team, staff and delightful children. It is a unique school with its spacious open plan design, which is enhanced by the tidy, well resourced, uncluttered environment and displays, providing a stimulating learning environment. The grounds are a huge asset to the school, providing playground and field space for outside learning. As governors, it is our role to support and build on what is in place through the three main aspects to our role:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff;
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

Each of our meetings relate to different aspects of our three core functions, as you can read from the minutes posted on the website.

I am looking forward to becoming even more involved and taking opportunities to meet with members of our community –children, parents and staff – over the coming year. Being part of Cheshire Academies Trust, I am delighted I shall continue to work with Janet Myers in her new role; I am sure she will keep a watchful eye over me!

Kate Lee

Chair of Governors

End of Year Blog: Janet Myers July 2019

End of Term – 18th July 2019 – Janet Myers

I can’t believe that it’s the end of another school year, and the end of my second year as chair of the local governing body at Boughton Heath.  It’s been a busy couple of years.  We have:

  • fundamentally changed the way that we work as a local governing body by moving away from a committee structure towards a flat structure so that all governors participate in discussion and decision making about every area of school life. 
  • welcomed five new governors to our board, including one parent and two members of staff. 
  • worked with the trust to ensure a successful transition to a new leadership model, including the recruitment of a new deputy headteacher.
  • worked with staff to begin to create a new vision and strategy for the school, taking into consideration the views of parents and pupils.
  • strengthened our focus on the progress of every pupil, and the systems used to evaluate this.
  • continued to ensure that the school provides a broad and balanced curriculum, and supported plans to enhance the curriculum in the unstructured parts of the day, e.g. lunchtime.
  • ensured that the school continues to provide a great education whilst operating within increasingly tight budgets. 
  • increased our understanding of our role as the committee of a trust board, enhanced our communication with the trust, and strengthened our collaboration with other local governing bodies in the trust.

A year ago, I became a trustee of Cheshire Academies Trust.  As a trust, we believe that governance roles should be separate, so that responsibilities are clear.  We therefore agreed that I would step down as a governor at Boughton Heath at the end of this academic year, ie 31st August 2019.  The local governing body began a process of succession planning, recruiting Kate Lee the board.  She is a very capable, recently retired headteacher who had expressed an interest in becoming a future chair.  With the full support of the local governing body, Kate undertook the National Governance Association’s nine-month Development for Chairs programme and decided that she would be willing to be considered as chair.  On Wednesday of this week, Kate was unanimously elected as chair and will take over from me on 1st September.  You can read more about Kate and the rest of our local governing team here https://www.boughtonheath.cheshire.sch.uk/cheshire/primary/boughtonheath/site/pages/governance/localgoverningbody

I have really enjoyed getting to know such a lovely school and working with your fantastic staff and governors, and am looking forward to continuing to work with Boughton Heath and the rest of the schools in the trust in the next academic year. 

Thank you for everything that you do to support the school.  I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer. 

 

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors (for a few more weeks!)

Governor Blog for May - Helen Patterson, Safeguarding Governor

I hope that everyone is enjoying the weather.  For me, the sun means washing on the line, kids running away from insects and suntan cream whilst repeatedly asking for ice-cream, BBQs and reading in the garden whilst avoiding the inevitable water pistol fight!

As part of my role as Safeguarding Governor, I have been reading and developing my understanding of safeguarding within the educational system. To do this, I have accessed courses and read/continue to read a number of government documents regarding safeguarding e.g. Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2018.  The school must be up to date and able to evidence sound safeguarding for our children.  Essentially, I have a role in ensuring that the responsibilities delegated by the Trust Board in relation to safeguarding and child protection are fulfilled by the Local Governing Body (LGB) and am the link between the LGB and Boughton Heath Academy for safeguarding matters. The day to day management of safeguarding issues is the responsibility of the senior leadership team (SLT) at the academy.

Safeguarding is discussed in all LGB meetings, the minutes of which can be found on the BHA website.  The school’s safeguarding policy can be found on the BHA website and is updated annually. Mr Lenton is now the school’s Designated Safeguarding lead and the go-to member of staff for any safeguarding issues.  Mr Ellis is the deputy safeguarding lead.

We recently had a review of the school’s safeguarding to ensure we are doing absolutely everything we should and can to keep children safe.  An Independent Children Safeguarding Consultant spent a day in the school reviewing policies and procedures, speaking to children, staff, and myself to get a full picture of how safeguarding works at Boughton Health.  Parents were included in this review as questionnaires were reviewed (It is so valuable to have parents’ feedback from the questionnaires sent out on ping). 

He stated that:

  • Both staff and pupils know who to talk to if there is a concern.
  • That there is relevant training for staff to ensure a common understanding of meeting children’s well-being.
  • There is evidence that concerns or issues are followed through.
  • There were no failings or significant concerns regarding the schools commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children.
  • He felt that there could be more displays around the school on keeping safe and well-being from the children’s perspective.
  • Pupils said that they feel they could talk to anyone, staff, teachers, friends and also the Head Teacher. They said that they were always being told/reminded about keeping safe.

We are pleased with the summary and recommendations of this survey and Boughton Health is always seeking out opportunities to improve what it does.  

It is an ongoing pleasure to be part of the team in Boughton Health Academy.  Seeing the enormity of work that goes on behind the scenes to benefit our children goes above and beyond government expectations.  Actually, spending time in the school has taught me how the school is run, how supportive and cohesive the staff are and most importantly as a parent Governor how much the team do for our children whilst keeping a smile on their faces.  I hope all the hard working children, parents and Boughton Health Staff have a happy half term. 

Governor Blog – November 2020 Helen Patterson, Parent Governor

Well – what a year 2020 has been.  A pandemic, American election, home schooling, uncertainty and relentless change. As a parent, a NHS key worker and a governor I have had my fair share of challenges that have tested my resilience and patience. This has encouraged me, more than ever to reflect on my parenting, the current world my children are exposed to and what I can do to support and scaffold them emotionally and academically. At the same time giving myself permission not to be ok, to have a wobble and to practice self-care. What a steep learning curve!

This blog is written as a parent (Y5 child and Y3 child) and a governor; a parent governor, and my experience from ‘masked’ health club drop off,  playground pick up,  combined with what I have learnt about Boughton Heath Academy behind the scenes at a strategic level.  As you are all aware, you can access the minutes of the Local Governing Board (LGB) meetings on the Boughton Heath Academy (BHA) website if you would like more detail on what we discuss.   The board hasn’t been meeting face to face but we have been making full use of Microsoft teams and continue to challenge monitor and support the school’s strategy.

I am passionate about our children’s education and wellbeing both of which have been magnified during this pandemic. I am frequently floored by the effort, creativity, collaboration and motivation of the team in BHA.  I am sure that being human, they are, like me being challenged daily, yet they still give 100% for our children. I know this from governor meetings, from seeing the majority of children skip, chatter and smile at pick up, and from stories my own children are telling me about their teachers.

Ongoing creativity, collaboration and innovative thinking has put everything in place in school to support and continue to educate our children in BHA.  A learning environment where pupils and staff can be healthy and happy. There are outside sinks to ensure time isn’t wasted waiting for children to handwash.  Imagine if they all had to queue up to handwash in the toilets and the time this would take out of their day.  Our children know how to wash their hands properly now, as a parent of two reluctant hand washers this is a milestone! We have a fantastic resource in Teams so that children if off and isolating will not miss out.  Selfishly for me, this has the added benefit of enabling me to parent rather than teach my children – I simply do not have the patience, time and skills that our BHA teachers have.

I have seen evidence that our children have not been as disadvantaged as we all initially thought due to being locked down and stuck at home for so many months. Their overall reading and maths is going the right way. Writing is known to need more input and the teachers are on it!  I would like to make it clear that this is not just the BHA picture but the picture when benchmarked across the UK. BHA and our kids are not alone! For those of you who are interested have a look here https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/hmci-commentary-findings-from-visits-in-october

This year the LGB are meeting in December 20 so we continue to monitor, support and challenge senior leaders and BHA during this very challenging time.  My specific role in the LGB is safeguarding and wellbeing.  I am often around at school pick up if you have any questions for the LGB.  So as the nights draw in lets continue to support, celebrate, collaborate and creatively scaffold the future for our children.  In the words of high school musical ‘We’re all in this together!’

New Governor Blog- September 2020

Welcome to the New Academic Year 2020-2021 

 

As governors, we were absolutely delighted that Mr Ellis, Mr Lenton and the staff could welcome all the children back as a school community at the start of September. For many children it was over five months since they had been inside the school, as they received various amounts of home-schooling; for others it was the length of the usual summer holiday after a surreal half term before.  The Year 6 children were the pioneers of the virtual school for a few weeks when in Year 5, giving them the opportunity to receive face to face teaching, see their peers on screen, as well as being connected to their class. For the staff it was a period of uncertainty as they supported the vulnerable and key-worker children in school and worked from home preparing for the new school year. The return for everyone is school life in times of COVID 19. 
 
Throughout the lockdown period we as governors have continued our role in the background. It has, as everyone knows, been the strangest change and situation a school has ever had to deal with - I experienced many challenges in my Headship but none as testing and complicated as COVID. Mr Ellis had to read, digest and act upon countless government guidelines to ensure the safety of the children and their access to learning, as his paramount priority. I also joined online conferences and webinars as we discussed and dealt with the situation at hand. 
 
Lockdown is a period of our history we hope is never repeated in the same isolating manner. So many parents had to deal with full time working from home - a challenge in itself - with the added responsibility of home schooling: a daunting task at the best of times but with no warning or time to prepare it became a great juggling act. I know many parents worked late into the evenings as they shared teaching their children with their own work, to put in the hours needed - an exhausting challenge. 
 
As a school we followed the government guidelines, creating a bespoke website page for Coronavirus support with help and signposts to the current school curriculum and other websites, both information and interactive, to support children’s learning. Also, on the school website is the year group topic work. I, as a grandparent and retired Headteacher, was called upon to home-school my grandchildren aged 3 - 10! Each morning I logged on at 9.00 to start my morning’s teaching on screen in hour sessions to the different age groups - nursery, Years 1, 3 and 5. For the topic work for the Year 3 and 5, I used the planning from BHA. It was an excellent way to monitor the quality and depth of learning on offer. Although the situation meant we couldn’t manage all the activities, those we could do engaged, motivated and inspired my two, as they created some interesting models, tried various activities and researched with enthusiasm; I was impressed with the development of the topics from the school. 
 
In our virtual governors’ meetings, we have been keen to hear feedback from our BHA parents. We are aware there has been some mixed feeling regarding contact at the beginning of lockdown, nevertheless have resolved this through phone calls and other means. The parents’ questionnaire will help us to reflect and respond accordingly in the future. Already the ‘Meet the Teacher’ sessions have been adapted from requests of parents for particular information. 
 
One of our next objectives as governors is to review our vision in light of the current situation. We need to look ahead to include for example, facilities such as face to face virtual teaching, a mechanism which has been trialled and is in place ready for when and if it is needed. We are in uncertain times – local self-isolating could happen at any time, so it is imperative that as a school BHA can continue to keep to its core moral purpose of safeguarding its children and providing the highest quality education possible. 
 
As governors we will continue to support and challenge the school to ensure the high quality of education the BHA children have always received, continues regardless of the climate within which we are working. 

Kate Lee 

Chair of Governors

One year on – the perspective of a new governor

One year ago, I was elected to the local governing body of Boughton Heath Academy. I am local to Great Boughton. I adore our area, the history, richness and diversity of our community and all that it has to offer. I applied for a role in governance on the belief that I should pay it forward and contribute to keeping that community alive and the best it can be.

I was given responsibility for governor training a few months after my appointment to the board. The skill set offered by the governing body is one that we should be proud of. Our expertise spans many sectors: local and national heavyweight financial institutions; adult and child development; international marketing; mechanical engineering; retired and current education specialists to name a few. For my part I am a (secondary school) teacher, which is why I relish being able to hold a head teacher to account as a break from the norm. Incidentally, it keeps me in a perfect position to relay any changes on the educational horizon that we might need to train our governors about.

The changes in education are many at the moment. A new Ofsted framework means that the criteria by which we monitor and govern school are being overhauled. We are aiming for oversight on a number of new ideas that have come to the fore – including new angles on what quality of education for our children means. As governors, we do everything we can do to keep abreast of anything that might impact on BHA. To that end, as a minimum, we have

  • participated in online training;
  • participated in face-to-face training sessions;
  • liaised with other local governing bodies;
  • read and discussed numerous government strategy documents.

 

All this in order to put ourselves in the strongest position to let the extremely talented team at BHA do what they do best: provide opportunities, ensure continued safety and ongoing pedagogical excellence so that our children - our local community - can be the best it can be.

Thank you for your continued support of the work that all of the team do here.

Rob Herd

Training Governor

A message from the Chair of Governors - Kate Lee, September 2019

I am delighted to be writing the first blog for this academic year in my new role as chair of the local governing body for Boughton Heath Academy (BHA). It is a role I am excited to undertake, in fact have been preparing for over the past twelve months with the encouragement and support from Janet Myers, our retiring chair, plus the rest of the governing body! I thank you all for your support, especially to Janet Myers, who has been an excellent mentor. The National Governance Development for Chairs programme has been of great interest to me; being a chair of governors is a very different role from being a headteacher governor, which I once was. Instead of being the person generating the reports and information about the school, it is a case of analysing, questioning and subsequently supporting the content of the reports to create sufficient challenge to ensure Boughton Heath continues to be the excellent school it is today; a role I shall endeavour to carry out to the best of my ability.

As you will have read in our governor profiles, my whole career has been in primary teaching, from the classroom, to deputy, to acting head, to headteacher – a career I thoroughly enjoyed throughout. The challenges and responsibility were part of the absolute reward of the job. It is a joy and a privilege to be part of the professional network that helps ensure all children have the best possible education. It was when being an inspector for Ofsted that I realised how diverse schools are, nevertheless, they provide, or at least are held account to provide a first class education for each and every child’s future. The passion I have had for this did not disappear as I retired; I therefore sought to be a member of a governing body to continue my enthusiasm.

Over the past year I have become involved and feel very connected to BHA. We have a highly skilled governing body, an experienced leadership team, staff and delightful children. It is a unique school with its spacious open plan design, which is enhanced by the tidy, well resourced, uncluttered environment and displays, providing a stimulating learning environment. The grounds are a huge asset to the school, providing playground and field space for outside learning. As governors, it is our role to support and build on what is in place through the three main aspects to our role:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff;
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

Each of our meetings relate to different aspects of our three core functions, as you can read from the minutes posted on the website.

I am looking forward to becoming even more involved and taking opportunities to meet with members of our community –children, parents and staff – over the coming year. Being part of Cheshire Academies Trust, I am delighted I shall continue to work with Janet Myers in her new role; I am sure she will keep a watchful eye over me!

Kate Lee

Chair of Governors

End of Year Blog: Janet Myers July 2019

End of Term – 18th July 2019 – Janet Myers

I can’t believe that it’s the end of another school year, and the end of my second year as chair of the local governing body at Boughton Heath.  It’s been a busy couple of years.  We have:

  • fundamentally changed the way that we work as a local governing body by moving away from a committee structure towards a flat structure so that all governors participate in discussion and decision making about every area of school life. 
  • welcomed five new governors to our board, including one parent and two members of staff. 
  • worked with the trust to ensure a successful transition to a new leadership model, including the recruitment of a new deputy headteacher.
  • worked with staff to begin to create a new vision and strategy for the school, taking into consideration the views of parents and pupils.
  • strengthened our focus on the progress of every pupil, and the systems used to evaluate this.
  • continued to ensure that the school provides a broad and balanced curriculum, and supported plans to enhance the curriculum in the unstructured parts of the day, e.g. lunchtime.
  • ensured that the school continues to provide a great education whilst operating within increasingly tight budgets. 
  • increased our understanding of our role as the committee of a trust board, enhanced our communication with the trust, and strengthened our collaboration with other local governing bodies in the trust.

A year ago, I became a trustee of Cheshire Academies Trust.  As a trust, we believe that governance roles should be separate, so that responsibilities are clear.  We therefore agreed that I would step down as a governor at Boughton Heath at the end of this academic year, ie 31st August 2019.  The local governing body began a process of succession planning, recruiting Kate Lee the board.  She is a very capable, recently retired headteacher who had expressed an interest in becoming a future chair.  With the full support of the local governing body, Kate undertook the National Governance Association’s nine-month Development for Chairs programme and decided that she would be willing to be considered as chair.  On Wednesday of this week, Kate was unanimously elected as chair and will take over from me on 1st September.  You can read more about Kate and the rest of our local governing team here https://www.boughtonheath.cheshire.sch.uk/cheshire/primary/boughtonheath/site/pages/governance/localgoverningbody

I have really enjoyed getting to know such a lovely school and working with your fantastic staff and governors, and am looking forward to continuing to work with Boughton Heath and the rest of the schools in the trust in the next academic year. 

Thank you for everything that you do to support the school.  I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer. 

 

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors (for a few more weeks!)

Governor Blog for May - Helen Patterson, Safeguarding Governor

I hope that everyone is enjoying the weather.  For me, the sun means washing on the line, kids running away from insects and suntan cream whilst repeatedly asking for ice-cream, BBQs and reading in the garden whilst avoiding the inevitable water pistol fight!

As part of my role as Safeguarding Governor, I have been reading and developing my understanding of safeguarding within the educational system. To do this, I have accessed courses and read/continue to read a number of government documents regarding safeguarding e.g. Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2018.  The school must be up to date and able to evidence sound safeguarding for our children.  Essentially, I have a role in ensuring that the responsibilities delegated by the Trust Board in relation to safeguarding and child protection are fulfilled by the Local Governing Body (LGB) and am the link between the LGB and Boughton Heath Academy for safeguarding matters. The day to day management of safeguarding issues is the responsibility of the senior leadership team (SLT) at the academy.

Safeguarding is discussed in all LGB meetings, the minutes of which can be found on the BHA website.  The school’s safeguarding policy can be found on the BHA website and is updated annually. Mr Lenton is now the school’s Designated Safeguarding lead and the go-to member of staff for any safeguarding issues.  Mr Ellis is the deputy safeguarding lead.

We recently had a review of the school’s safeguarding to ensure we are doing absolutely everything we should and can to keep children safe.  An Independent Children Safeguarding Consultant spent a day in the school reviewing policies and procedures, speaking to children, staff, and myself to get a full picture of how safeguarding works at Boughton Health.  Parents were included in this review as questionnaires were reviewed (It is so valuable to have parents’ feedback from the questionnaires sent out on ping). 

He stated that:

  • Both staff and pupils know who to talk to if there is a concern.
  • That there is relevant training for staff to ensure a common understanding of meeting children’s well-being.
  • There is evidence that concerns or issues are followed through.
  • There were no failings or significant concerns regarding the schools commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children.
  • He felt that there could be more displays around the school on keeping safe and well-being from the children’s perspective.
  • Pupils said that they feel they could talk to anyone, staff, teachers, friends and also the Head Teacher. They said that they were always being told/reminded about keeping safe.

We are pleased with the summary and recommendations of this survey and Boughton Health is always seeking out opportunities to improve what it does.  

It is an ongoing pleasure to be part of the team in Boughton Health Academy.  Seeing the enormity of work that goes on behind the scenes to benefit our children goes above and beyond government expectations.  Actually, spending time in the school has taught me how the school is run, how supportive and cohesive the staff are and most importantly as a parent Governor how much the team do for our children whilst keeping a smile on their faces.  I hope all the hard working children, parents and Boughton Health Staff have a happy half term. 

Governor Blog – November 2020 Helen Patterson, Parent Governor

Well – what a year 2020 has been.  A pandemic, American election, home schooling, uncertainty and relentless change. As a parent, a NHS key worker and a governor I have had my fair share of challenges that have tested my resilience and patience. This has encouraged me, more than ever to reflect on my parenting, the current world my children are exposed to and what I can do to support and scaffold them emotionally and academically. At the same time giving myself permission not to be ok, to have a wobble and to practice self-care. What a steep learning curve!

This blog is written as a parent (Y5 child and Y3 child) and a governor; a parent governor, and my experience from ‘masked’ health club drop off,  playground pick up,  combined with what I have learnt about Boughton Heath Academy behind the scenes at a strategic level.  As you are all aware, you can access the minutes of the Local Governing Board (LGB) meetings on the Boughton Heath Academy (BHA) website if you would like more detail on what we discuss.   The board hasn’t been meeting face to face but we have been making full use of Microsoft teams and continue to challenge monitor and support the school’s strategy.

I am passionate about our children’s education and wellbeing both of which have been magnified during this pandemic. I am frequently floored by the effort, creativity, collaboration and motivation of the team in BHA.  I am sure that being human, they are, like me being challenged daily, yet they still give 100% for our children. I know this from governor meetings, from seeing the majority of children skip, chatter and smile at pick up, and from stories my own children are telling me about their teachers.

Ongoing creativity, collaboration and innovative thinking has put everything in place in school to support and continue to educate our children in BHA.  A learning environment where pupils and staff can be healthy and happy. There are outside sinks to ensure time isn’t wasted waiting for children to handwash.  Imagine if they all had to queue up to handwash in the toilets and the time this would take out of their day.  Our children know how to wash their hands properly now, as a parent of two reluctant hand washers this is a milestone! We have a fantastic resource in Teams so that children if off and isolating will not miss out.  Selfishly for me, this has the added benefit of enabling me to parent rather than teach my children – I simply do not have the patience, time and skills that our BHA teachers have.

I have seen evidence that our children have not been as disadvantaged as we all initially thought due to being locked down and stuck at home for so many months. Their overall reading and maths is going the right way. Writing is known to need more input and the teachers are on it!  I would like to make it clear that this is not just the BHA picture but the picture when benchmarked across the UK. BHA and our kids are not alone! For those of you who are interested have a look here https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/hmci-commentary-findings-from-visits-in-october

This year the LGB are meeting in December 20 so we continue to monitor, support and challenge senior leaders and BHA during this very challenging time.  My specific role in the LGB is safeguarding and wellbeing.  I am often around at school pick up if you have any questions for the LGB.  So as the nights draw in lets continue to support, celebrate, collaborate and creatively scaffold the future for our children.  In the words of high school musical ‘We’re all in this together!’

New Governor Blog- September 2020

Welcome to the New Academic Year 2020-2021 

 

As governors, we were absolutely delighted that Mr Ellis, Mr Lenton and the staff could welcome all the children back as a school community at the start of September. For many children it was over five months since they had been inside the school, as they received various amounts of home-schooling; for others it was the length of the usual summer holiday after a surreal half term before.  The Year 6 children were the pioneers of the virtual school for a few weeks when in Year 5, giving them the opportunity to receive face to face teaching, see their peers on screen, as well as being connected to their class. For the staff it was a period of uncertainty as they supported the vulnerable and key-worker children in school and worked from home preparing for the new school year. The return for everyone is school life in times of COVID 19. 
 
Throughout the lockdown period we as governors have continued our role in the background. It has, as everyone knows, been the strangest change and situation a school has ever had to deal with - I experienced many challenges in my Headship but none as testing and complicated as COVID. Mr Ellis had to read, digest and act upon countless government guidelines to ensure the safety of the children and their access to learning, as his paramount priority. I also joined online conferences and webinars as we discussed and dealt with the situation at hand. 
 
Lockdown is a period of our history we hope is never repeated in the same isolating manner. So many parents had to deal with full time working from home - a challenge in itself - with the added responsibility of home schooling: a daunting task at the best of times but with no warning or time to prepare it became a great juggling act. I know many parents worked late into the evenings as they shared teaching their children with their own work, to put in the hours needed - an exhausting challenge. 
 
As a school we followed the government guidelines, creating a bespoke website page for Coronavirus support with help and signposts to the current school curriculum and other websites, both information and interactive, to support children’s learning. Also, on the school website is the year group topic work. I, as a grandparent and retired Headteacher, was called upon to home-school my grandchildren aged 3 - 10! Each morning I logged on at 9.00 to start my morning’s teaching on screen in hour sessions to the different age groups - nursery, Years 1, 3 and 5. For the topic work for the Year 3 and 5, I used the planning from BHA. It was an excellent way to monitor the quality and depth of learning on offer. Although the situation meant we couldn’t manage all the activities, those we could do engaged, motivated and inspired my two, as they created some interesting models, tried various activities and researched with enthusiasm; I was impressed with the development of the topics from the school. 
 
In our virtual governors’ meetings, we have been keen to hear feedback from our BHA parents. We are aware there has been some mixed feeling regarding contact at the beginning of lockdown, nevertheless have resolved this through phone calls and other means. The parents’ questionnaire will help us to reflect and respond accordingly in the future. Already the ‘Meet the Teacher’ sessions have been adapted from requests of parents for particular information. 
 
One of our next objectives as governors is to review our vision in light of the current situation. We need to look ahead to include for example, facilities such as face to face virtual teaching, a mechanism which has been trialled and is in place ready for when and if it is needed. We are in uncertain times – local self-isolating could happen at any time, so it is imperative that as a school BHA can continue to keep to its core moral purpose of safeguarding its children and providing the highest quality education possible. 
 
As governors we will continue to support and challenge the school to ensure the high quality of education the BHA children have always received, continues regardless of the climate within which we are working. 

Kate Lee 

Chair of Governors

One year on – the perspective of a new governor

One year ago, I was elected to the local governing body of Boughton Heath Academy. I am local to Great Boughton. I adore our area, the history, richness and diversity of our community and all that it has to offer. I applied for a role in governance on the belief that I should pay it forward and contribute to keeping that community alive and the best it can be.

I was given responsibility for governor training a few months after my appointment to the board. The skill set offered by the governing body is one that we should be proud of. Our expertise spans many sectors: local and national heavyweight financial institutions; adult and child development; international marketing; mechanical engineering; retired and current education specialists to name a few. For my part I am a (secondary school) teacher, which is why I relish being able to hold a head teacher to account as a break from the norm. Incidentally, it keeps me in a perfect position to relay any changes on the educational horizon that we might need to train our governors about.

The changes in education are many at the moment. A new Ofsted framework means that the criteria by which we monitor and govern school are being overhauled. We are aiming for oversight on a number of new ideas that have come to the fore – including new angles on what quality of education for our children means. As governors, we do everything we can do to keep abreast of anything that might impact on BHA. To that end, as a minimum, we have

  • participated in online training;
  • participated in face-to-face training sessions;
  • liaised with other local governing bodies;
  • read and discussed numerous government strategy documents.

 

All this in order to put ourselves in the strongest position to let the extremely talented team at BHA do what they do best: provide opportunities, ensure continued safety and ongoing pedagogical excellence so that our children - our local community - can be the best it can be.

Thank you for your continued support of the work that all of the team do here.

Rob Herd

Training Governor

A message from the Chair of Governors - Kate Lee, September 2019

I am delighted to be writing the first blog for this academic year in my new role as chair of the local governing body for Boughton Heath Academy (BHA). It is a role I am excited to undertake, in fact have been preparing for over the past twelve months with the encouragement and support from Janet Myers, our retiring chair, plus the rest of the governing body! I thank you all for your support, especially to Janet Myers, who has been an excellent mentor. The National Governance Development for Chairs programme has been of great interest to me; being a chair of governors is a very different role from being a headteacher governor, which I once was. Instead of being the person generating the reports and information about the school, it is a case of analysing, questioning and subsequently supporting the content of the reports to create sufficient challenge to ensure Boughton Heath continues to be the excellent school it is today; a role I shall endeavour to carry out to the best of my ability.

As you will have read in our governor profiles, my whole career has been in primary teaching, from the classroom, to deputy, to acting head, to headteacher – a career I thoroughly enjoyed throughout. The challenges and responsibility were part of the absolute reward of the job. It is a joy and a privilege to be part of the professional network that helps ensure all children have the best possible education. It was when being an inspector for Ofsted that I realised how diverse schools are, nevertheless, they provide, or at least are held account to provide a first class education for each and every child’s future. The passion I have had for this did not disappear as I retired; I therefore sought to be a member of a governing body to continue my enthusiasm.

Over the past year I have become involved and feel very connected to BHA. We have a highly skilled governing body, an experienced leadership team, staff and delightful children. It is a unique school with its spacious open plan design, which is enhanced by the tidy, well resourced, uncluttered environment and displays, providing a stimulating learning environment. The grounds are a huge asset to the school, providing playground and field space for outside learning. As governors, it is our role to support and build on what is in place through the three main aspects to our role:

  • Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effective and efficient performance management of staff;
  • Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.

Each of our meetings relate to different aspects of our three core functions, as you can read from the minutes posted on the website.

I am looking forward to becoming even more involved and taking opportunities to meet with members of our community –children, parents and staff – over the coming year. Being part of Cheshire Academies Trust, I am delighted I shall continue to work with Janet Myers in her new role; I am sure she will keep a watchful eye over me!

Kate Lee

Chair of Governors

End of Year Blog: Janet Myers July 2019

End of Term – 18th July 2019 – Janet Myers

I can’t believe that it’s the end of another school year, and the end of my second year as chair of the local governing body at Boughton Heath.  It’s been a busy couple of years.  We have:

  • fundamentally changed the way that we work as a local governing body by moving away from a committee structure towards a flat structure so that all governors participate in discussion and decision making about every area of school life. 
  • welcomed five new governors to our board, including one parent and two members of staff. 
  • worked with the trust to ensure a successful transition to a new leadership model, including the recruitment of a new deputy headteacher.
  • worked with staff to begin to create a new vision and strategy for the school, taking into consideration the views of parents and pupils.
  • strengthened our focus on the progress of every pupil, and the systems used to evaluate this.
  • continued to ensure that the school provides a broad and balanced curriculum, and supported plans to enhance the curriculum in the unstructured parts of the day, e.g. lunchtime.
  • ensured that the school continues to provide a great education whilst operating within increasingly tight budgets. 
  • increased our understanding of our role as the committee of a trust board, enhanced our communication with the trust, and strengthened our collaboration with other local governing bodies in the trust.

A year ago, I became a trustee of Cheshire Academies Trust.  As a trust, we believe that governance roles should be separate, so that responsibilities are clear.  We therefore agreed that I would step down as a governor at Boughton Heath at the end of this academic year, ie 31st August 2019.  The local governing body began a process of succession planning, recruiting Kate Lee the board.  She is a very capable, recently retired headteacher who had expressed an interest in becoming a future chair.  With the full support of the local governing body, Kate undertook the National Governance Association’s nine-month Development for Chairs programme and decided that she would be willing to be considered as chair.  On Wednesday of this week, Kate was unanimously elected as chair and will take over from me on 1st September.  You can read more about Kate and the rest of our local governing team here https://www.boughtonheath.cheshire.sch.uk/cheshire/primary/boughtonheath/site/pages/governance/localgoverningbody

I have really enjoyed getting to know such a lovely school and working with your fantastic staff and governors, and am looking forward to continuing to work with Boughton Heath and the rest of the schools in the trust in the next academic year. 

Thank you for everything that you do to support the school.  I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer. 

 

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors (for a few more weeks!)

Governor Blog for May - Helen Patterson, Safeguarding Governor

I hope that everyone is enjoying the weather.  For me, the sun means washing on the line, kids running away from insects and suntan cream whilst repeatedly asking for ice-cream, BBQs and reading in the garden whilst avoiding the inevitable water pistol fight!

As part of my role as Safeguarding Governor, I have been reading and developing my understanding of safeguarding within the educational system. To do this, I have accessed courses and read/continue to read a number of government documents regarding safeguarding e.g. Keeping Children Safe in Education, 2018.  The school must be up to date and able to evidence sound safeguarding for our children.  Essentially, I have a role in ensuring that the responsibilities delegated by the Trust Board in relation to safeguarding and child protection are fulfilled by the Local Governing Body (LGB) and am the link between the LGB and Boughton Heath Academy for safeguarding matters. The day to day management of safeguarding issues is the responsibility of the senior leadership team (SLT) at the academy.

Safeguarding is discussed in all LGB meetings, the minutes of which can be found on the BHA website.  The school’s safeguarding policy can be found on the BHA website and is updated annually. Mr Lenton is now the school’s Designated Safeguarding lead and the go-to member of staff for any safeguarding issues.  Mr Ellis is the deputy safeguarding lead.

We recently had a review of the school’s safeguarding to ensure we are doing absolutely everything we should and can to keep children safe.  An Independent Children Safeguarding Consultant spent a day in the school reviewing policies and procedures, speaking to children, staff, and myself to get a full picture of how safeguarding works at Boughton Health.  Parents were included in this review as questionnaires were reviewed (It is so valuable to have parents’ feedback from the questionnaires sent out on ping). 

He stated that:

  • Both staff and pupils know who to talk to if there is a concern.
  • That there is relevant training for staff to ensure a common understanding of meeting children’s well-being.
  • There is evidence that concerns or issues are followed through.
  • There were no failings or significant concerns regarding the schools commitment to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children.
  • He felt that there could be more displays around the school on keeping safe and well-being from the children’s perspective.
  • Pupils said that they feel they could talk to anyone, staff, teachers, friends and also the Head Teacher. They said that they were always being told/reminded about keeping safe.

We are pleased with the summary and recommendations of this survey and Boughton Health is always seeking out opportunities to improve what it does.  

It is an ongoing pleasure to be part of the team in Boughton Health Academy.  Seeing the enormity of work that goes on behind the scenes to benefit our children goes above and beyond government expectations.  Actually, spending time in the school has taught me how the school is run, how supportive and cohesive the staff are and most importantly as a parent Governor how much the team do for our children whilst keeping a smile on their faces.  I hope all the hard working children, parents and Boughton Health Staff have a happy half term. 

Getting to know the new Vice Principal 

Muriel Breugelmans - 5th February 2019

In January we welcomed a new Vice Principal, Jon Lenton, to our school. Over the last few weeks, the governors have enjoyed getting to know Mr Lenton better. We thought you might enjoy finding  out more about the new member of the leadership team and so we decided to interview him. We hope you enjoy the read. 

Mr Lenton, welcome to Boughton Heath Academy. We are very pleased to have you on board. Tell us about yourself and what is your background.

Thank you, it’s great to be here! I grew up in Lincolnshire but moved to the North West many years ago to go to university where I gained my BSc(Hons) in Police and Criminal Investigation. I chose to specialise within child protection in my final year and decided against a career in the police, choosing teaching instead. After completing the Graduate Teacher Programme I began teaching in Wirral, going on to work across numerous schools whilst seconded to the Local Education Authority as an advisory teacher and then acting as a member of my school’s Senior Leadership Team as head of Key Stage 1. Now I am embarking on the next chapter of my career, here at Boughton Heath Academy.

What brought you to the school?

I’d felt for some time it was time for me to take the next step in my career but none of the schools I’d looked at had felt quite right to me until I visited Boughton Heath. I really liked the feel of the school when I arrived and loved the open plan layout with all the wonderful artwork on display. I felt right at home from my first visit and was fortunate enough to be taken through to interview and ultimately be offered the post.

What are your main responsibilities in the school?

My main responsibilities are to keep the school running efficiently day to day, supporting the leadership team and staff to deliver outstanding teaching and learning within Boughton Heath Academy, as well as ensuring when Mr Ellis is acting in his CEO role I am ensuring the same high standards of education are maintained. This could be through policy work and management or through direct teaching contact and parental engagement. I’m also responsible for ensuring our children are safe in and out of school which is such a vital part of any job working with young people.

What is a normal day as Vice Principal at Boughton Heath Academy?

Ha – there is no ‘normal’ day as Vice Principal, that’s what is so great about the job! The day will usually start with me working with a small group of children in the morning and carrying out some focused work with them but after that I start to work through my diary and to do list until something happens which needs dealing with. I carry out assembly and break duties like all other members of staff and also cover release time for teachers which is really beneficial as I get to the know the children. I love the variety and challenge the role brings, and the fact it lets me work with so many interesting and varied people.

Have there been any highlights since January? Did anything surprise you?

Ohh, that’s a tough one as I have enjoyed so much since starting in January. I have really liked working with the team at Boughton Heath, they have been so great in helping me settle in and I feel like I have been here a lot longer than a half term already! I’ve also loved getting to know the children. It’s surprised me just how confident, well-mannered and well behaved they are which is so refreshing. Young people and children today can get such a negative press which really isn’t justified and it’s an honour to work with such lovely individuals.

Outside of school, what do you enjoy doing, what are your hobbies and interests?

Well I am a HUGE Leicester City fan (probably the only one in the North West!) and love football and cricket. My main hobby is walking my dog Bella, she is a cockapoo and is absolutely bonkers so I can often be found at the weekends chasing her along a beach or up a mountain somewhere! Other than that I enjoy reading, cooking and socialising with friends and family and just generally relaxing and unwinding.

 

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to the parents of our community. We wish you all the very best in your new role.

 

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities at BHA

Kate Lee  -  23rd January 2019

My passion for making a positive difference to children’s life chances never dwindled throughout my career in education from teacher to headteacher. It was when working as an inspector for Ofsted that I experienced first hand, the importance of every child in every school having the best possible education for their own futures and the future of our country. Since July, when I became a governor at BHA, I am certain this is the case for Boughton Heath children. When I retired from headship in December 2017, I knew I wanted to give something back to the school community in thanks of the wonderful career education has given to me, so was delighted when I was contacted to ask if I would join BHA governing body, to take up the role as Special Educational Need and Disabilities governor (SEND). In addition to this I enrolled on a National Governance Association course called ‘Development for Chairs’ as a preparation to possibly furthering my role in the future, as every governing body needs to be aware of succession preparation and planning; I am thoroughly enjoying my role as governor and the course.

Interestingly, I am able to amalgamate the role as SEND governor with the projects I need to cover on the course. Although there are very low numbers of SEND at BHA, each child is very well supported. I met with Mrs Gell, the school’s Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) to gain an understanding of how SEND is managed at BHA, the systems and processes in place, which included an anonymous child’s profile. Mrs Gell was very clear and showed her experienced in her replies to my questions.

The Department for Education’s has a Code of Practice, which is statutory guidance all schools must follow. It is the role of the governing body to ensure this is the case, as it is at BHA. This is also reiterated in the Cheshire Academies Trust SEND policy.

Staff at BHA receive regular training to help identify a child with SEN, when insufficient progress is made from first quality teaching, so are clear on the process they initially need to instigate.

I am reassured that all aspects in connection with the SEND provision at BHA are in place and being executed effectively. My role is to champion the SEND requirements at governing body meetings and to support the SENCo during an Ofsted inspection.

Kate Lee

Co-opted Governor

 

Making the sums add up- Stephen Ogilby - 24 November 2018

The financial outlook for many schools, including Boughton Heath Academy, is tough, and the problem doesn’t seem to be going away for the foreseeable future.  According to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies, the impact of inflation and increasing pupil numbers, means that there will have been a real-terms cut of nearly five per cent between 2015 and 2019.    The annual Academies Benchmark Report from Kreston International, a network of UK and global accountancy firms published in 1st February 18, stated “An increasing number of academy school trusts are operating with large deficits and decreasing reserves. If the current trend continues, many academy trusts may be in financial distress within two years.”  This is something we as governors are fully aware of, and it’s more important now than ever before, to ensure provisions are put in place to safeguard the future of Boughton Heath Academy.  The Academies Benchmark Report, now in its seventh year, surveyed 750 academy schools in 360 trusts and multi-academy trusts educating over 300,000 children.  The survey found that the 360 trusts have a combined deficit of over £100 million. The number of trusts operating with a deficit has increased from 21% in 2015, 42% in 2016 and 55% in the 2016/17 survey.

Having attended November’s Governors Board Meeting in which the Financial Report for period 2017/2108 was presented, Boughton Heath Academy financial position looks healthier in respect to many of its other peers facing these similar financial challenges. 

We as a multi-academy trust (MAT) operate on a three-year forecasting basis, despite monies only being ringfenced from the Department of Education currently on a yearly basis. Boughton Heath ended the 2017/18 financial year with a small carry forward surplus of £27,652 and governors have made plans to maintain and, if possible, build on this surplus gradually over the next three years.  Boughton Heath had a deficit of £16,000 when it converted to Cheshire Academies Trust.  This deficit has been paid back to the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), and the school currently has a reserve balance of £15,000.  The school will continue to make payments to the reserve from the annual budget until the level that is set within the CAT reserves policy is reached, which is one month’s salary cost or approximately £33,000.     

This is encouraging considering 55% of trusts in the 2016/17 survey, as mentioned above, are operating with a deficit, and something we as an academy should be proud of, but not take for granted!

More information about the trust’s financial position will be available once the annual report and audited accounts are published on the trust’s website at the end of January 2019. 

Steve Ogilby

Co-opted Governor

Vision and Values- Janet Myers

The next three years – 21 September 2018 – Janet Myers

Welcome back to a new school year! I hope that your children have settled in well to their new classes. It has been lovely to see the pictures of the full reception class on Twitter. Last week I had the chance to tour the school during the school day and enjoyed seeing our newest pupils learning outside and the rest of the school displaying fantastic diligence and concentration in their lessons.

You may remember that last term we asked you to complete a survey to find out more about what you think are the school’s strengths and the reasons that you chose it for your children. We also asked the children, staff and governors similar questions. A group of staff and governors met at the end of last term to identify the key messages that emerged from the responses. They were themes such as academic progress, hands-on learning, deeper learning, and the importance of the moral compass. You told us how important it is that your children are safe and happy and how much you value mutual trust and respect.

On Wednesday evening, teachers and governors met to think about these themes and consider the future of the school and where we would like to be in three years’ time. We explored the school’s mission statement, “One Goal: For Children to achieve theirs” and discussed the importance of “One Space and One Team” and considered what we would like to stop, start and continue with regards to the three key strategic areas of Performance, Conduct and Community. We had some really meaningful discussions and generated lots of ideas. To follow on from the evening, a working group of three governors and three teachers will work together to synthesise the concepts that were discussed into a revised mission statement and three-year vision for the school. We hope to have something written by half term and will consult with staff and children before agreeing on the final wording.

It was so useful as a governor to spend an evening with the teachers talking about the future of the school, and I would like to thank teachers and governors for giving up their evening to contribute to the discussions. The evening gave us a very clear steer about the future of the school, and I look forward to sharing the final wording with you and focussing the whole school community around a common vision.

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

Governor Blog - 16 May 2018 - Janet Myers

I am now into my second term as chair of the local governing body and have enjoyed several opportunities to meet children, staff and parents, including visits to school, attending an assembly, attending a parents’ information evening, presentations by staff at governors’ meetings, and attending training with members of staff. 

I have been so impressed with every member of staff that I have talked to, and particularly their drive for constant improvement and innovation.  In the first governors’ blog (https://www.boughtonheath.cheshire.sch.uk/cheshire/primary/boughtonheath/site/pages/governance/localgoverningbody/blogs), I quote from our school improvement partner’s report, which states that Boughton Heath is manifesting key learning principles to a greater extent than any other school that he knows.  The latest example of this is the new feedback policy. 

The one single thing that has the most impact on the progress that a child makes in school is being taught by a good teacher and, as a local governing body, it is our priority to maximise the time that teachers are able to spend with children and minimise other calls on their time.  The school’s new feedback policy helps us to achieve that.  Teachers read every page of every child’s book but, instead of writing in comments, which children admit that they don’t read, they collate comments on a whole class feedback sheet.  By noticing where children have applied the principles that they have been taught as well as looking for misconceptions and basic errors, teachers are able to tailor their next lesson to the exact needs of the children.  The feedback is shared with the children at the start of the next lesson and they get recognition for their work as well as a chance to work on the areas that need more practice. 

Parent governor, Helen Patterson, and I were able to attend the parents’ information evening about the new feedback policy.  It was led by Mrs Gell and Mrs Williams, and they talked very eloquently about the benefits that they are already seeing in the classroom.  This was reinforced when governors had a chance to ask Mrs Sumnall and Miss Bladen about the new policy when they presented to the local governing body meeting last week.  They both felt that the new policy was much more efficient and provided children with more effective feedback.  Miss Bladen mentioned that it took her back to why she wanted to teach, and that she understood much better what she needed to do to make a difference to groups of pupils.  I was delighted to hear that the new policy resulted in a 75% time saving, allowing the teachers to spend more time teaching and preparing resources to support lessons.

Teachers will be very happy to answer any questions that you have about the feedback policy and the very useful parents’ information evening will be repeated next term.

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

 

New Governor Blog - 19 March 2018 - Janet Myers

Welcome to our new governor blog!  As a local governing body, we are committed to openness and are going to use this blog to give parents and the local community an insight into the work that we carry out.  We will blog once a month, roughly in line with our meetings and will tell you more about what we do in those meetings and what we learn on our visits to school as we monitor elements of the school development plan and areas of school life such as safeguarding and special educational needs.  We will also be providing you with more information about us as governors as we update the local governing body area of the school website.  The trust’s new governance manager will be working on this over the next few weeks. 

I have loved getting to know Boughton Heath Academy over the last few months.  My expectations of the school as a member of the local community were based on the academic excellence that I saw displayed in the Department of Education Performance Tables and the wonderful range and depth of work that I had read about on the Twitter feed.  I have certainly not been disappointed! 

The first thing that struck me was the children’s calm, friendly and polite behaviour in the classroom and around school.  I have been fascinated to learn about conscious discipline, the wealth of research behind adopting it as an approach, the positive impact that staff have seen when adopting it in the classroom, and the work that staff have done to help parents and children to understand and adopt it. 

It has been great to meet staff when I have been in school.  We have been very fortunate to have Mrs Woods and Mr Lucas as staff governors.  Mrs Woods has reached the end of her term as a governor and we are hoping that another member of staff will volunteer to join us.  The perspective that staff governors provide is really valuable when making decisions, and it is an opportunity for them to be involved in the strategic direction of the school.  Beyond meetings, I have been informally introduced to most people now, but I have had a chance to talk in detail to Mrs Gell in her role as the special educational needs co-ordinator and Mrs McCarthy in her role as learning mentor.  Both members of staff have also attended local governing body meetings to update us on special educational needs and the impact of pupil premium spending.  Mrs Walley has updated us on finance, and Ms Jones from the trust has provided us with the wider trust perspective.  Mrs Sumnall and Miss Bladen will be attending our local governing body meeting on Wednesday to provide us with information about maths and reading. 

I was also able to attend the parents’ information evening about the new marking policy.  This had been fully discussed at a local governing body meeting as well as being the subject of a comprehensive report by the link governor, Muriel Breugelmans, so I was aware of the planning and research that supported the change, however I was so impressed with the compelling reasons given by Mrs Williams and Mrs Gell and the evidence of the impact that teachers are already seeing in terms of children’s learning.  This direct information is vital to governors as we have a responsibility to triangulate the information that we receive from the senior leadership team with information from other sources such as other members of staff and data about children’s attainment and progress. 

Information from outside experts is another important part of triangulation and the governing body commissioned an external advisor to provide us with independent confirmation of the quality of teaching and learning.  The local governing body will discuss his report on Wednesday but I thought I would share some excerpts with you before that meeting:

 “The children were entering the school ready to start their day as the School Improvement Partner (SIP) moved around the school. He commented to the principal that the way in which they did so was the very best he had ever seen; children came into their class area and without having to be told, immediately sat down quietly, took out a book and began reading. But this was not, as is sometimes the case, an exercise in lip-service to the task. The pupils were ALL fully engaged, even engrossed in their reading activity, resulting in a most disciplined and calm entrance and start to the school day. Well done!

“As part of a fairly wide-ranging discussion both at the beginning, as well as throughout the day, various topics were discussed… It seems that the SIP shares a common view of the nature of learning with the Principal, but Boughton Heath is manifesting such key learning principles to a greater extent than any other school the SIP knows.

“The school is a delight to visit and has a continuing belief in its own ability for further improvement. The high expectations of pupils come from the extremely high expectations of the principal and his team.”

I hope that you have found our first blog informative.  If you would like to reply to the blog or have any ideas for topics that you would like us to blog about in future, you can contact me at chair@boughtonheath.cheshire.sch.uk

Janet Myers

Chair of Governors

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