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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

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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