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A reflection of a year of the Governing Body in times of COVID-19

Being a Chair of Governors of a school is a great privilege as well as a huge responsibility, nevertheless, it is incredibly rewarding. Governors are volunteers. They are a group of people with a mixed skill set, so come from various professional backgrounds to ensure that all aspects of running a school from safeguarding (including wellbeing), academic achievement, business (including finance), plus many other facets, have experts in each field. A governors’ role is a strategic role, not an operational one, which is the role of the Headteacher and leadership team of the school. 

Working with the Headteacher, the Governing Body has two main roles – to support and challenge the school to ensure it is providing the very best education and outcomes for each and every child. Its core functions are: 

  • 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. 

It is also important that the GB listens to the opinions of its stakeholders – children, staff, parents and the wider community. 

Regardless of external factors a GB has to carry out the above functions, so when COVID-19 hit, we, at Boughton Heath Academy, had to re-think our working practices. The most important aspect was that, as governors, we needed to be focusing more on the support, than the challenge! 

Our last face to face governing body meeting was on 11th March 2020. At this meeting it was ‘business as usual’; COVID-19 was not even an agenda item! Then on 23rd March, schools were closed. Life changed so quickly in the first lockdown; schools had to respond to the unknown immediately; there was so much to do and no time to do it. Schools were told they were closed except for vulnerable children and those of Key Workers. The remit was to signpost children to schemes of work that the children already followed and to websites so learning could continue at home; risk assessments were re-written to cater for this mammoth change; staff had to be put on a rota to supervise the children in school, otherwise to work from home ensuring there was sufficient on-line sites for the children to access. 

Having not had an agenda item about COVID in our March meeting, I was in daily contact with the Headteacher to discuss everything and anything from which children were eligible to attend school, to paperwork sent from the Department for Education (DfE), which came in daily with constant amendments to deal with. I joined Webinars and Zoom conferences to help support the Headteacher navigate a way through everything – the pressure on Headteachers across the country was enormous! 

The school made a separate window on the website to store the learning resources, parental guidance on internet safety and wellbeing. These three aspects were of utmost importance, in no particular order. Children spending much more time on-line made internet safety crucial to safeguard the children; the parents needed to know the learning resources to be able to support the children and wellbeing became more and more important as children felt isolated from their teachers, friends and usual routines. 

As a governing body, all governors meet for nine months of the year (some governing bodies meet once a term, then have a committee structure for specific business). We consider everyone attending more regular meetings, helps make decisions more quickly. This was a great advantage in the unprecedented situation, however, in hindsight, we wished we had held a meeting in April (one of the months we do not meet due to the two-week Easter break) as so much had happened between our March and May meetings which we had not all had the opportunity to discuss. 

By May the shape of our meetings completely changed. Instead as the usual agenda, we focussed on aspects which only pertained to the impact of the pandemic. One of these was a minority of parents wanting greater support for home-learning. Although all the DfE guidance had been followed, it was evident some parents were struggling. Following much research from the school, it was decided to trial direct teaching on-line to a Year 5 class in the second half of the summer term when some year groups were returning. We agreed, as governors, to invest in purchasing a personal laptop for all the Junior children – this was amazing forward thinking, as at the time, we did not know there would be a second school lockdown. Our meetings were now virtual. This took some adapting to as many of us had not used virtual methods of communication on a large scale before. I had a nightmare chairing the May meeting, as I could not see any of the other governors – I was literally working in the dark! They could see me, so I had to ensure I gave everyone enough time to comment and ask questions, as I could not see anyone putting up their hand (even virtually) nor read anyone’s body language! 

Everyone was delighted to welcome the children back in September. Governing Body meetings returned to a full agenda to ensure we were covering all our statutory duties, nevertheless, we kept a firm focus on the impact of COVID in the school and still worked virtually. Much investment was made to install outside hot water sinks, so hands could be washed before entering the building and toilet areas would not become crowded. The building, which was open-plan, had to be divided with screens between classrooms; hand sanitiser, cleaning schedules, staff-room closures etc.etc. had to be continually monitored, plus the wellbeing of the staff and children at this very anxious time. Governors did not go near the school but virtual phone calls and meetings became the norm. 

The Autumn Term was a busy time with staff training to be able to deliver lessons virtually for any child or class that may have to isolate. We were very fortunate as not one class had to; however, the infrastructure and training was in place for when the second lockdown occurred. As a result, the school was able to offer face to face lessons for all Junior children every day, making them independent learners from their parents. The infant children logged on for morning register and an outline of the day’s learning, which was presented through videos of the teachers teaching, which could be accessed at convenient times for parents. They also met again on-line for an end of the day for a story. Each child had their own school workbooks delivered at the start of lockdown with the Junior children also receiving their own laptop to work from. The children dressed in their uniforms – they may not be in the school building but they were still at school. It set an expectation, which has resulted in the children continuing to make good progress, learning being seamless, with very little ‘catch up’ needed. 

Throughout the past year I have endeavoured to support the school, be available daily when necessary but certainly each week now. The children have had daily teaching by their teachers, giving them contact, security and sustaining expectation. The parents have overwhelmingly been highly delighted in the provision. 

It has been an incredibly tough journey for school leaders and staff alike. Nevertheless, they have worked unstintingly to ensure the continued best education for the children in the circumstances. As governors, we have ensured we have continued to deliver on all of our core functions and are extremely proud of all the school has and continues to achieve. 

Kate Lee 

Chair of Governors 

Governor Blog 6th February 2021 - Kate Lee, Chair of Governors

As the third lockdown continues, with the second time schools have been closed for all but the vulnerable and key-workers' children, it is with pride that I sit and write this blog as I reflect on the journey that Boughton Heath Academy (BHA) has been on since the outbreak of COVID19. I am wearing three hats as I make this reflection – that as a retired educationalist, a grandparent of primary school aged grandchildren and as Chair of Governors. 

My concern between the gap in learning across the country grows with each day the vast majority of children are not attending school, as the provision of learning varies so much from school to school. I have friends with grandchildren who send me screenshots from their grandchildren’s schools as their own children pull their hair out at the lack of learning available. One, as their grandchild logged on at 9.00am on a Monday morning, read ‘This page has no content.’ How demotivating for the child and parent who has got them up and ready for learning! Most have not been that bad. Nevertheless, I have a concern that even though the government has said it is not a specific requirement to offer face to face learning (probably due to the uncertainty of all children having a constant devise to access such learning), surely that is how children learn best?  A child who is set work to do is self-learning or requires constant parental support. How can this be challenging or able to take the child to the next stage of learning, as and when he/she is ready? 

By being expected to be up, logged on for registration, saying good morning on-line to your own teacher, sets an expectation, a sense of community that all the class is doing this together, whether in school or on-line. From the first lockdown BHA has worked unstintingly towards the provision it has been able to offer since January. Research into the best technological platforms for rolling out remote provision, has been carried out; a trial for Year 5s by Mr Lenton in July was done; its success built upon. Throughout the Autumn Term staff have undertaken relentless training to be up to speed, in readiness for the occurrence that happened on 8th January. New laptops were purchased for the staff to ensure they had quality resources from which to work, investment was made for all Key Stage 2 children to have their own laptop so they were not vying for a slot on the family computer; the curriculum was adapted to be accessible from school and home. 

I keep in regular contact with Mr Ellis and Mr Lenton. On Sunday 7th January, the updated risk assessment was sent to further improve safety measures in school. I spoke with Mr Ellis on the 8th in the afternoon and after the announcement...the action plan was ready to roll. The staff worked as the great team which they are, delivering, not only Key Stage 2 laptops but workbooks to all the children. Workbooks! Yet again another statement to say your work matters and is important to us. We do not want gaps in your recorded work; we want you to take the same pride in your presentation at home as you do at school. In addition, we may not all be in school but we are all at school, so log on wearing your school uniform as we know that sets a standard of expectation. All this and more has worked. It is with pride that I look at samples of work through Twitter! The home-learning at BHA is a bee’s wing (a Mr Ellis expression) from that of when in school.  

Parents views have been listened to and where possible, if appropriate, acted upon. This is a reflective, self-evaluation school, doing all it can to strive to continue to give each and every child the best education possible. How many schools have had a Zoom meeting where all parents could join to voice concerns and alleviate fears? Non other that I have heard of. Parent Forum continues on-line, as do other communication systems to ensure all parents have a channel from where they can express their views. 

As governors, we continue to meet each month to support and challenge what is being put in place. It is good that the balance is far more for support than to have to challenge – we almost just tweak through certain questions! I continue to speak with Mr Lenton each week and Mr Ellis on a very regular basis. We have set our own strategy plan this year where we are focusing on ways to be as visible as possible with the community of school, staff and parents; looking at the links between the CAT vision and BHA vision and to closely monitor the progress in writing across the school. In addition to this we take the wellbeing of the staff very seriously. Many parents have expressed their admiration of the quality and quantity of work the children cover in a day. That only comes through excellent preparation, which takes time. Support has been put in place to address some of the additional time this has taken for staff for on-line learning. Across the Trust questionnaires are sent to all staff to ascertain their wellbeing. A senior member of staff has a role to regularly check-in on staff wellbeing and a governor has been appointed this year to follow this through. Taking staff wellbeing is vital – they are our greatest asset and resource. To have continuity in teachers has a positive impact on the children’s wellbeing. I am pleased they are all coping so well and would like to sincerely thank them all, whatever their role in school for all their continued hard work. 

The outcome of this careful planning and preparation is that for the vast majority of the children achievement remains high and provision is in place for where it is not so high – the school is still monitoring progress and achievement. Children in Key Stage 2 should be able to work independently, hopefully enabling working parents to carry on with their work during the day. For the younger children this is not so easy. I admire all parents juggling their own work with home-schooling support. I appreciate how demanding and exhausting it is, not to mention finding time for household chores! Remember you are doing a great job! You are supporting your child’s education and your family’s wellbeing – well done! 

In the meantime, I shall continue to be the home-school support for my grandchildren teaching phonics each day and giving my younger grandchildren childcare through what has become known in our family as ‘Nanny Nursery!’ 

If you have any suggestions as to how we, as governors, can be more communicative and visible, then please let us know. 

Kate Lee, Chair of Governors

 

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. 

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