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Headteacher and Governors
At St Mark’s the relationship between the governing body and the headteacher is a healthy one built on mutual respect and trust. Frequently, we hear of many schools where this is not the case. Such a relationship enables us to work in a way that is positive but that has also holds an expectation of challenge. The governing body has an important job which is to ask challenging questions about strategy and to act as ‘critical friends’. This is invaluable as it provides an external perspective and there can sometimes be points for us to consider as a staff.
The governors visit the school and focus on areas of our annual School Development Plan. These visits are action packed with an initial discussion with me, followed by classroom visits and discussions with a range of stakeholders, including children, depending on the area of focus. The governors produce for us a report that explains clearly what they have seen and heard as a result of the visit- a very useful document.
I produce a detailed report three times a year that gives the governors a great deal of information about St Mark’s, both strategic and managerial issues, and I report under the following headings: creating the future; leading, learning and teaching; developing self and working with others; managing the organisation; accountability; and strengthening community through collaboration. The report provides a good basis for discussion at each of our full governing body meetings.
Our working relationship as headteacher and governors is well-established and our vision the same- to give our St Mark’s children ‘Wings to Fly!’
“Oh no, not another committee!”
The word “committee” is not one to raise the spirits, but the St. Mark’s governor committees are where a lot of the interesting and important spadework of school governance gets done. A governing body doesn’t by law have to have any committees at all, and some years ago the governors at St. Mark’s decided to streamline the structure to just the Full Governing Body and a Finance Committee. But, over the years, the number of committees and panels had crept up again, and last year the governors decided it was time to take a fresh look at their working structure.
With the help of an experienced and wise governor trainer, we settled on just two committees – Curriculum, and Resources. The Curriculum Committee covers the word in its widest sense, including teaching and learning, pupil achievement, the spiritual, moral and social development of the children and their pastoral care, and staff performance, training and well-being. The Resources Committee combines the responsibilities of the previous Finance and Premises and Health and Safety Committees, and also matters of staff pay. Each committee has powers delegated to it from the Governing Body. For instance, the Curriculum Committee monitors and reviews a long list of policies that fall within its remit, and the Resources Committee approves the annual budget.
The Full Governing Body establishes the strategic framework for the school. Fine words, which in practice mean that it sets aims and objectives for the school, appoints the Headteacher, and approves the School Development Plan – all absolutely fundamental to success. Each “old” term (ie three times a year), Claire produces a Headteacher’s Report To Governors – a detailed account of the achievements, activities, events and issues of the preceding few months plus an update on progress of the annual School Development Plan. It reflects a lot of work for Claire, but it is an opportunity for both headteacher and governors to review, discuss and reflect on progress within the School
An innovation in the new structure is a Strategic Leadership Group, consisting of the chair and vice-chair of the Full Governing Body, the Headteacher, and the chairs of the Curriculum and the Resources Committees. This group doesn’t have any powers delegated to it, but its job is to make sure that the activities of the governing body are coordinated, efficient and productive. It’s also available at short notice to respond and offer support to the Headteacher on matters of particular urgency or difficulty. None have arisen yet, but staffing matters or pupil discipline are twopossible examples. Thirdly, the group keeps the Governing Body up to speed with national strategic trends and directives – the current one being the question of academy status.
A shake-up from time to time is usually a good thing, and the review has been an opportunity to reflect on the roles and responsibilities of governors. The structure of the Governing Body is dry stuff, perhaps: but an essential framework for us to function effectively.
(Foundation governor, appointed by the Parochial Church Council)
Becoming a Parent Governor
My son started at St Mark’s in September 2012 and by December I had agreed to become a parent governor. How did that happen?!
Having moved to Sussex 2 years ago from the Midlands, the school, area and people are still relatively new to our family. It is hard starting somewhere fresh all over again but previous experience has shown me that a good way to meet people is to get involved....however daunting that may feel.
I have never been a school governor before so it is a very new experience to me. Helen Bonnick, the Chair, has been great at setting out where my involvement will be and with each month I pick up new elements of the role. I attended a day’s induction course which gave a real taste of why we need school governors and what the expectations of us are. I also attended my first curriculum meeting just before Christmas and once again Mrs Rivers, Mrs Lucas and all the other governors were very supportive. I am used to some educational-speak, having worked for several years as a university lecturer, but there is a whole new language to learn with primary school education. I can imagine that it will take a long time to become familiar with all the different processes and requirements but, so far, there has been plenty of support so it does not feel an impossible task.
As a Physiotherapist, I have a keen interest in health and exercise. I have already completed a governor visit to SMILE meadow with Anne Yarrow this year and shortly will be observing PE sessions. It is good to be able to use already-held life skills in a new role whilst at the same time learning about all the planning and thought that goes into the education of our children. I can see that being a parent governor is a good way to be involved with the school and already I have gained a great deal from the experience. I hope that I am able to help in some small way to maintaining it as a fantastic environment for our children.
Lindsay George (Mum to Wilby in Caterpillars)
I would like to introduce myself to new parents who don’t know me. My name is Helen Bonnick and I am Chair of Governors at St. Marks, a role I have held for the past two years. We are fortunate at the school to have a dedicated and hardworking team of Governors, which I am proud to represent.
We have already held our first Governor meeting of the year, and we are on track for advancing the busy schedule of essential tasks; tasks which maintain the smooth running of the school, and which enable the improvements and enhancements we have seen recently, and which continue with each new term.
All Governors at St Marks are unpaid volunteers, our sole reward is the satisfaction of seeing the school, and its pupils and staff, flourish and maintain the outstanding status which it, and they, have worked so hard to achieve
This is a strange year for me as the last of my three children left St Mark’s last year for secondary school; so ending nine years of direct connection with the school. As a result, I will not be in the playground so much, but look forward to meeting you at different school events throughout the year.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank John Eliot and Mrs Rivers for all the work they put in to get the school hall ready for the start of the year. I would also like to thank Wendy Coleman who stood down as Vice Chair this year. Wendy has been a previous Chair of Governors and, like me, her children attended St Mark’s.
There is much that goes on behind the scenes at St Marks, and in a school of our size we are heavily dependent on input and contributions from parents.
These are not contributions of a financial nature, but rather of time; please do not be backward at coming forward there are so many ways to get involved in the school; by reading with the children, providing lifts to and from sporting fixtures, helping out at school events, or by joining the Friends or St Mark’s. Without your help and support the school would be greatly impoverished and much of what makes it so special would be lost.
I look forward to meeting you.
With our last Ethos meeting of this academic year imminent, I thought you might like to know something of the work of the Governing Body’s Ethos Committee, which meets three times a year.
The aims of the committee are:
1. To provide strategic direction for the maintenance and development of the “distinctive Church of England ethos and vision of the school”;
2. To develop the spiritual life of the school through: curriculum provision (through R.E. as a subject and cross-curricularly); a focus on Christian values; behaviour expectations and role-modeling; warm, caring and effective interpersonal relationships; and parish, community and global links;
3. To ensure that there is a dedicated area within the school for prayer and reflection;
4. To ensure that school displays and publications reflect the School’s distinctive Christian character;
5. To monitor and evaluate progress towards the achievement of these aims.
The phrase I highlighted above in parentheses derives from the 2001 Dearing Report’s section on ‘Church Schools in the New Millennium’ in the importance of church schools in engaging with both parish and global worshipping communities and was identified as being of crucial importance to young people and the nation as a whole. When OFSTED visits church schools, the Diocese sends its own inspection team within a few days to evaluate the School , not only on its R.E. teaching and learning standards, but on in its “distinctive Church of England Ethos and Vision” as it permeates all aspects of school life. This is known as a ‘Section 48 Inspection’ and at our last visit, as some of you may remember, ``St. Marks’s scored an ‘Outstanding’ in this area as well as in the OFSTED inspection itself.
St Marks genuinely embraces children and families of all faiths and expressions of spirituality and those of no religious faith or affiliation. It also recognizes that Church schools do not have the monoploy on loving and caring relationships nor on excellent teaching and learning.! We are aware, however, that we are fortunate as a church school, to have more autonomy than L.A. schools in ensuring that that our curriculum, and school life as a whole, is consistently underpinned by the Christian qualities and values that will nurture our all our children as the young people they are now and give them a solid foundation for the future adults they will become.
If you would like to find out more about the Ethos committee or have any thoughts or ideas in this area, please have a chat with any of the committee members; Claire Rivers, Helen Bonnick, Di Blackden, Mavis Farrar, Kirsty Coles and myself.
Chair of the Ethos Committee
Health & Safety and Premises
I am the school’s Foundation Governor with special oversight for Health & Safety and also the school premises. Legal responsibility for health & safety lies collectively with the full Governing Body, but it has delegated the detailed supervision of health & safety in the school to a sub-committee - the Premises, Health & Safety Committee, which I chair. Other governor members of this committee are Claire Rivers (Headteacher), Katie Sherwood (Staff Governor), Vicky Richards (Foundation Governor and Vice Chair of the Premises, Health & Safety Committee) and Amanda Martin (Parent Governor). We also have 2 associated members: Paul James and Steve Yates, both parents and with relevant skills which the Committee can draw upon. Claire, Vicky and I have all received formal health & safety training.
The Committee has its own terms of reference, meets at least 3 times a year and also carries out inspections of the buildings, grounds and health & safety and maintenance documentation. Amongst its important tasks is the review and updating of the school’s health and safety policy document and the oversight of the many risk assessments which cover virtually all aspects of the physical premises and the activities undertaken by staff and pupils. As Chairman of this Committee, I and Claire report to the full Governing Body at its regular meetings.
The Governors’ aim is to ensure that St Mark’s remains a safe and healthy place and includes safe systems of work, equipment, access to and egress and from the buildings and grounds and staff training. We believe that high health & safety standards are best achieved with the co-operation of all staff, pupils and visitors to the school. It is not our intention to “wrap pupils in cotton wool”, but rather to ensure they develop a responsible, common sense approach when dealing with hazards and assessing risk. Our approach has, I think, been endorsed by the score of 98% awarded to the school in the triennial health & safety audit, undertaken by East Sussex County Council, last year.
Another important strand of the Committee’s work is the oversight of the development and maintenance of the school buildings and grounds. There are 3-yearly plans covering both these aspects. The most recent activities here have been the building of the porch and new entrance arrangements and the work on the school hall. We have now just been notified of a grant from central government funds of £90,000. This is really exciting news for the school and we hope will allow us to complete the hall project (new floor, damp proofing, acoustic tiles and screen and projector) as well as upgrading the heating throughout the school – we would like to install heat pumps similar to those in the ICT Suite and Cocoons classroom.
Related activities include our policies and plans for safeguarding children (see earlier posting on the Governors’ Groove) and emergency management. This latter will be addressed in a later posting, but this one is quite long enough as it is!
Child Protection and Safeguarding
St Mark’s CEP School fully recognises its responsibilities for Child Protection and the Safeguarding of Children, and in our school ‘Every Child Matters’..
To create a safe, caring and stimulating environment
To develop self-worth
To be healthy and safe
To promote an understanding of right and wrong, good manners and tolerance
To respect and enjoy the people and places in our world
Statements taken from the St Mark’s Vision and Aims-2008
Our policy applies to all staff, governors and volunteers working in the school. There are five main elements to our policy:
· Ensuring we practice safe recruitment in checking the suitability of staff and volunteers to work with children.
· Raising awareness of child protection issues and equipping children with the skills needed to keep them safe.
· Developing and then implementing procedures for identifying and reporting cases, or suspected cases, of abuse.
· Supporting pupils who have been abused in accordance with his/her agreed child protection plan.
· Establishing a safe environment in which children can learn and develop.
We recognise that because of the day to day contact with children, school staff are well placed to observe the outward signs of abuse. The school will therefore:
· Establish and maintain an environment where children feel secure, are encouraged to talk, and are listened to.
· Ensure children know that there are adults in the school whom they can approach if they are worried.
· Include opportunities in the PSHE curriculum for children to develop the skills they need to recognise and stay safe from abuse.
We will follow the procedures set out by the Local Safeguarding Children Board and take account of guidance issued by the Department for Education and Skills to:
· Ensure we have a designated senior person for child protection who has received appropriate training and support for this role, At St Mark’s this is the Headteacher and in their absence the Assistant Heatdteacher, or the teacher ‘Acting up’.
· Ensure we have a nominated governor responsible for child protection.
· Ensure every member of staff (including temporary and supply staff and volunteers) and governing body knows the name of the designated senior person responsible for child protection and their role.
· Ensure all staff and volunteers understand their responsibilities in being alert to the signs of abuse and responsibility for referring any concerns to the designated senior person responsible for child protection.
· Ensure that parents have an understanding of the responsibility placed on the school and staff for child protection by setting out its obligations in the school prospectus.
· Notify social services if there is an unexplained absence of more than two days of a pupil who is on the child protection register.
· Develop effective links with relevant agencies and co-operate as required with their enquiries regarding child protection matters including attendance at case conferences.
· Keep written records of concerns about children, even where there is no need to refer the matter immediately.
· Ensure all records are kept securely, separate from the main pupil file, and in locked locations.
· Develop and then follow procedures where an allegation is made against a member of staff or volunteer.
· Ensure safe recruitment practices are always followed and that a single up-to-date record exists of CRB checks on all personnel that work regularly with our children whether staff, governors, parents, students and other members of the community.
We recognise that children who are abused or witness violence may find it difficult to develop a sense of self worth. They may feel helplessness, humiliation and some sense of blame. The school may be the only stable, secure and predictable element in the lives of children at risk. When at school their behaviour may be challenging and defiant or they may be withdrawn. The school will endeavour to support the pupil through:
· The content of the curriculum.
· The school ethos which promotes a positive, supportive and secure environment and gives pupils a sense of being valued.
· The school behaviour policy which is aimed at supporting vulnerable pupils in the school. The school will ensure that the pupil knows that some behaviour is unacceptable but they are valued and not to be blamed for any abuse which has occurred.
· Liaison with other agencies that support the pupil such as social services, Child and Adult Mental Health Service, education welfare service and educational psychology service.
· Ensuring that, where a pupil on the child protection register leaves, their information is transfered to the new school immediately and that the child's social worker is informed.
Appendix 1: Definitions, contacts and guidance
The concept of Significant Harm introduced by the Children Act 1989 is the threshold by which compulsory intervention by Social Services may take place:
- Harm means ill treatment or the impairment of health or development
- Development means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development
- Health means physical or mental health; and
- Ill treatment includes sexual abuse and forms of ill treatment which are not physical
The categories of abuse:
· Physical Abuse: non accidental injuries, bruising, wounding burns, fractures
· Neglect: the chronic inattention to basic needs
· Sexual abuse: the involvement of children or young people in sexual activity. This includes the abuse of a position of Trust
· Emotional Abuse or neglect: persistent emotional ill treatment such as the extreme denial of love, affection or approval
Local Agency contact numbers:
LEA Lead Officer:
Social Care 01323 747373
Out of office hours contact numbers
Working together to Safeguard Children ( DFES,2006)
The Children Act 1989
The Assessment Framework (DOH, DFES, HO 2000)
What to do if you are worried a child is being abused (DOH, DFES, HO 2006)
DfES Circular Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education (2006)
LSCB Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures- can be found on czone (2006)
The Headteacher and her ‘Critical Friends’
This month I am delighted to be contributing to the ‘Governor’s Groove’ and thought you might find it interesting to hear about the very special relationship that exists between the Headteaher and Governors of St Mark’s.
The role of Headteacher carries with it great responsibilities and thus, it is crucial that the Headteacher should be accountable. It is sad that in many schools the relationship that exists between the Headteacher and governors is not necessarily a healthy one, not so at St Mark’s. I very much view the governing body as my ‘critical friends’ and hope that they would feel able to offer suggestions and make comments on ways in which the school is run, if they felt that would be helpful. Therefore, I endeavour to ensure that all that happens at the school is openly described and discussed by the governors, whether at one of the committee meetings or the full governor body meetings. We often have a ‘View from the Classroom’ section in which a member of staff talks through their subject leadership role or role as class teacher or assistant.
A panel of the governors oversee, with a professional external partner, the performance management of the Headteacher, and therefore, it is vital they have a good inside knowledge of developments at the school.
The governing body is a key factor during Ofsted Inspections and their performance is included within the ‘Leadership and Management’ section of the report. It is impossible to get an ‘Outstanding’ in this section without a well-informed and competent governing body.
In preparation for the Full Governing Body meetings I provide a detailed Headteacher’s Report three times a year that is set out under the National Standards for Headship which are: creating the future; leading learning and teaching; developing self and working with others; managing the organisation; accountability; and strengthening community through collaboration. This enables the governors to prepare any questions they may have for me to be answered at the meeting. The modern trend for such reports is to be on 2 sides of A4, and although, in some cases, less is more, I don’t feel this regarding the reports, as for governors who do not have children at the school they may not be aware of all the current activities and developments that are taking place and very significant in the development of the school.
I work hand in hand with the governors developing with them, and other stakeholders, the School Development Plan (SDP) that guides us strategically through the school year. They receive regular updates on the progress of the SDP.
The governors, in pairs, take a dimension of the SDP and visit to see what is taking place in school. I provide for them an itinerary for the visit which will involve observing classes in action and talking to staff and children about the specific focus. The governors than prepare a report that is a helpful commentary on what they have seen and may lead them to ask more questions. These visits are not regarded as threatening experiences but helpful ways in which to help the school move forward.
We are lucky in having governors who enthusiastically visit the school on a regular basis and who provide support wherever they can. The governors have been excellent in ensuring the well being and care of all staff. At St Mark’s it is possible to work hand in hand with the governors and we have an excellent working relationship, very much valuing each other’s opinions.
When I first became a parent Governor at St. Marks, I was a little apprehensive as I wasn’t entirely sure what was involved or what would be expected of me. I already knew that St. Marks was a fantastic school and I knew that I wanted to ‘give something back’ to help the school continue on its outstanding journey. I was already actively involved with the ‘Friends of St. Marks’ and helping out with school trips and classroom events but being a Governor was to be a completely new venture. I was also very aware that I would have to organise myself as being a busy mum of four and working was already filling my days!
The existing Governors were all extremely welcoming and helpful which immediately helped me to relax and not feel like an outsider. I attended a full day of induction training which was very informative and gave me an opportunity to meet with other ‘new’ Governors from all over East Sussex. Very quickly I started to understand that being a Governor was to be a unique role and that although there would be a crossover of knowledge from my existing activities at the school, belonging to the Governing body would be very different but would hopefully be rewarding and challenging.
I was right! I have been a parent Governor for just over a year now and have really enjoyed all aspects of the role. In addition to full meetings, I have also attended smaller committee meetings and training courses, all of which have expanded my understanding of how the education system works. Seeing how changes at Government level have affected our school and how these changes impact on the plans and developments for the pupils has been fascinating (if rather frightening!) I have seen how our Governing body has had to make strategic decisions, sometimes in difficult circumstances, and when these decisions are made the absolute priority at St. Marks is the benefit to the pupils. I have found that all the questions I ask are answered fully with explanations as to how, why, when, where, who and are evidenced fully, which is very reassuring.
I am still learning and finding my way as a Governor but I am enjoying the journey very much and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead.
In my role as a parent Governor I have attended the school and talked to students across the classes about their experiences of school and without exception they were happy, polite and enthusiastic about St. Marks and the staff.
St. Marks is a fantastic school and I am proud to be a part of it and to be able to make a difference for the students now and for the future.
(Poppy & Hattie’s Mum)
It’s been a while since we last wrote on ‘the Governors’ space’ on the Learning Platform but I would like to reassure you that we are very much around and have been working hard behind the scenes!
July saw a group of staff and governors) gather to spend a whole day planning this academic year’s (2011/12) School Development Plan (S.D.P.). We gather information to inform planning in a variety of ways (e.g. assessment of curriculum needs based on SATs results and teachers’ assessments; evaluation of the previous year’s SDP ; national, local and diocesan directives and requirements; results of parents’ and children’s questionnaires; assessment of health ,safety and premises’ requirements ) and then, coupled with ‘blue-sky ’thinking and discussion around moving the School forward ,plus a keen eye on the School’s Budget, formulate it into a fairly hefty document that serves as our blueprint for the year. If you would like to see it, we have a copy at Reception.
We have recently had a bit of a change to membership of the Governing Body; we were sad to say goodbye to both Karin Green and Di Blackden, and recently held a farewell meal in their honour as Karin leaves to focus upon her work in Kent schools and Di relinquishes the ex officio governor’s role to our new rector, Evan France. We are delighted, however, to be welcoming Mandy Chapman back as a Foundation Governor which means she is appointed by the P.C.C. (not elected by parents). We are also thrilled that Steve Yates has agreed to become an Associate Member to the Health, Safety and Premises Committee of the Governing Body and look forward to being able to draw upon his expertise in this area.
When I last wrote for the Learning Platform, I was the outgoing Chair, handing over to Helen Bonnick. Helen has had an extraordinarily busy year as Chair and led our team incredibly well so a very big thank you to you, Helen,for your guidance ,hard work and that Scottish sense of humour!!!
That’s all for now. We governors promise to try and use our L.P. space much more regularly! If there is anything you would like to hear about, do let one of us know-there’s always a governor around somewhere!!-and we will endeavour to write about it
(Wendy Coleman, Vice-chair Governing Body of St Mark’s)
Hello from the Governors of St. Mark’s School!
At St Mark’s, membership of the Governing Body is drawn from different parts of our community-parents, staff, church, village and diocese- in accordance with our statutory Instrument of Governance, 2006. We have 12 full governors and 2 associate members.
Our governors are:
Wendy Coleman…….Vice-Chair and Chair of the Ethos Committee
Martyn Taplin………Chair of Finance Committee
John Eliot……………..Chair of Premises, Health and Safety Committee
The Revd. Evan France
Associate members of the Governing Body:
Associate member of the Premises, Health and Safety Committee:
There are generally several different categories of governors in schools in order to create teams with sufficient diversity of skills and experience to support the school in many different ways. At St Mark’s, a church school, we have:
4 Foundation governors - appointed by the P.C.C. (Parochial Church Council).One of whom must be a parent……..Helen, Anne, Mandy, Vicky
2 Foundation governors - appointed by the Diocese, via the P.C.C .One of whom must be a parent………John, Martyn
2 Parent governors – elected by parents,……..Kirsty, Amanda
1 Staff governor – elected by school staff,……..Katie
1 L.A.(Local Authority) governor- appointed by the L.A…….Wendy
Ex-officio governor…….The Revd. Evan France
3 Associate members- appointed by the governing body because of the skills and expertise they have. They are not full members.
Clerk to Governors……..Emma Welfare
A governor’s term of office is usually for four years and he/she may subsequently be re-appointed if all stakeholders are in agreement. The offices of Chair, Vice-chair, Chair of Finance, Chair of Premises, Health and Safety are elected/re-elected each September.
GOVERNORS’ GROOVE………..TERM 1, OCTOBER 2010
Hello to everyone again,
I write this now as Vice-Chair of the governing body of St Mark’s, having formally stepped down as Chair at the end of September. The six years I spent as chair were incredibly interesting and fulfilling (challenging too!) and, in many ways, I was sad to step down. However, national recommendations are, quite rightly, that the chairship should change approximately every five years or so and, with my youngest child ,Owen, having just moved up to secondary school, the time was right for me to do so. Helen Bonnick is our new chair, very competent and able and, with her youngest son Andrew in year 5 plus all the photographic time she gives to the school, she is a very approachable and a visible presence at the school. We also now have two new parent governors, Amanda Martin (mother of Poppy, Year 3 and Hattie, Year 1) and Kirsty Coles (mother of Josh,Year 2 and Thomas, Year 1) and so the team is complete. They may not know what they have let themselves in for as they attend induction trainings and meetings galore but we hope that Mavis’ goodies at the full governing body meetings will at least make them feel very welcome!
This first term is speeding by so quickly and a wealth of diverse and stimulating curricular and extra curricular activities for all year groups has been planned and in some instances has already taken place. There is an even greater than usual emphasis this coming academic year on individual achievement and effort as well as attainment and it is this approach to our children’s education that makes St Mark’s the outstanding school that it continues to be.
I will sign off now (after all, this ‘Governors’ groove‘ was originally intended to be ‘little and often’!!) and will looking forward to seeing many of you on my frequent visits to the school. My ‘excuse’ is that they are ‘governor visits’……….hmmm,or is it maybe that I just miss the family of St Mark’s too much!?!
With very best wishes
Governors’ Groove…………JUNE 2010
Greetings all potential parent governors!
You will have received yesterday in your child/children’s book bag information and a nomination form pertaining to the up and coming election for two new parent governors to join the Governing Body of St Mark’s in the Autumn. The vacancies have been created by the resignations of Fiona Thorpe, whose four year term of office ends soon and who has decided not to renew/ be reappointed due to personal commitments, and Mandy Chapman, who is off on a year’s overseas trip. They have both contributed a great deal to the work of the Gov.Body with their wisdom, know-how and input and we thank them very much indeed. Although neither were parent governors-Fiona was our Local Authority governor and Mandy, a Diocesan Foundation Governor- because of the ending of several governors’ current terms of office and subsequent reappointment(s) into different roles, we have been delighted to have been able to create these two parent governor vacancies and look forward to welcoming some fresh skills and talents into the team!
Please do give some serious consideration to putting yourself forward for nomination. It is a brilliant way to really understand what goes on to make ‘education’ happen for your children and to give something back to the school by contributing in a very concrete way. Life skills and business skills are equally valued as is the ability to contribute to discussions and to challenge in a constructive way. A sense of humour goes down well too! The makeup of the Governing Body is meant to broadly reflect the general demographics of the school and I know that two of our governors, John Eliot and Martyn Taplin, would be glad of some fellow gender support! It is probably very non ‘p-c’ to say that but it is notoriously quite difficult nationally to recruit fathers onto governing bodies so we are hoping to encourage nominations from a wide range of parents and then the rest is up to the ‘electorate’ as they say……..now where have I heard that recently??
There is much available in the way of the County’s Governor Services’ training (usually evening sessions, 7-9pm,Uckfield,Lewes or East bourne venues) and after a 3 week induction programme (one night a week for three weeks),governors should then aim to do at least one session per year, preferably more. Each new governor will also have a fellow governor mentor until he/she feels settled into the role. Doreen Newman, our clerk to governors, has put some ‘Being a Parent Governor’ leaflets in Reception so do take one please. May I also refer you to earlier entries in this Governor e-space where I tried to outline a little of what is involved in being a governor. However, perhaps the easiest thing is to grab one of us in the playground and have a chat that will honestly not commit you to anything! Helen Bonnick and Martyn Taplin are currently parent governors and are often around, as are myself, Karin Green, Vicky Richards and Katie Sherwood.
We look forward to receiving your nominations!
“GOVERNORS GROOVE”…………………’Community Cohesion’
Hello again, and I can’t believe that it is six months since I last wrote on this Learning Platform! Please accept my sincerest apologies and hopefully you will know that, despite not being a very obvious presence on the L.P. , governors are constantly at work in one way or another behind the scenes supporting, monitoring and providing strategic direction to the school.
One thing we talked about at a recent governors’ session was using the L.P. much more than we have been, as a means of sharing some of the many and diverse issues, projects and events with which we are involved. It was felt that a “little and often” rather than “occasional but lengthy” approach might work quite well; almost a “Thought for the Week” slot if you like. Someone also felt that a sparkier title might work……..and hence ‘Govs’ Groove’ came about! In that vein, and you will see that we were on a roll by now (!),we thought that given our close links with Rev Di and the Church we should also have a “Church Chatter” e-space…………over to you for that one, Di!
Anyway, what prompted me to write today, in particular, was the occasion of ‘Neil’s Meal2’ last Saturday evening,27th March. Neil’s Meal no.1 was held a year ago and was initially organised as a fundraiser for the recently completed building project. However, it was such a social success as well as an excellent fundraiser, that there was clamouring for another one this year to which Chef Neil and his catering partner-in-crime, Jules Michaelson –Yeates readily agreed.
So a truly lovely evening with a fantastic ambience, took place on Saturday with about 50 guests, mainly villagers and Variety Club members but there was also a staff table and a parents’ table. The food, starter and main course, was delicious and HOT (no mean feat given the size of the School’s Kitchen!) and a fabulous array of desserts was supplied by many village friends and our own Claire Rivers (is there no end to her talents??!).Waitering and bar duties were provided by a team of ex- St Mark’s pupils, dressed very smartly in white shirts and bowties, with additional help from the Head and two governors. Entertainment took the form of a most enjoyable quiz, organised by Bob Lake (you last saw him a Lord of the Manor in November’s village panto!) and some apparently very nice singing (although I couldn’t possibly comment!) by ex-St Mark’s pupils, Nia and Carys Coleman! What particularly struck me , with my governor’s hat on, was the community feel to the whole event and how embedded the school now is within the village community. It has been desirable nationally for some time now that schools should engage in what is known as ‘community cohesion’ ; indeed, it is one of the key requirements that Ofsted focus upon. St Mark’s (head, staff, children, parents, governors)has worked hard at this for several years now and our roots and community outlook have strengthened all the time- which contributed to our ‘Outstanding’ results last summer. This outlook extends, as you will know from Claire’s newsletters, beyond the ‘local’ to county, nationwide and globally and continue to do so. More on this another time, perhaps?!
Okay, this ‘Groove’ has ended up being longer than expected but next time, I will endeavour, I promise, to make it shorter-watch this space!
I would like to wish you all a very happy and peaceful Eastertide
Governors’ newsletter no.3,September 09
Welcome to the new school year and term!
In view of the pleasant early Autumn weather we’ve had recently,we thought last week how nice it would be to have an outdoor tea and coffee bar one morning in which to meet and mingle with each other. As I listened to the weather forecast this morning and heard the phrase ‘today’s weather is a rainy blip in an otherwise very nice week’, I thought…….. ‘typical’ !!
However, the hall was very welcoming instead…… as were the biscuits!
(Justask all those eager little faces who managed innocently to snaffle more than a few!). It was lovely to see several new parents and lots of old ones too ( I mean that in the best possible way!) and thank you so much for coming. I hope you were able to mingle and relax with each other and also to chat with some of the school governors plus some of the ‘Friends of St Marks’. New volunteers are always embraced wholeheartedly by the ‘Friends,’ whether offering help on a regular or one-off basis. Equally, vacancies arise from time to time on the governing body and should you ever wish to become involved in school life in that capacity ,we hope you will have found us a relatively ‘normal’(whatever that is!!) bunch this morning! (For further details of the role of a governor, please see earlier newsletters below).
Everyone at school is still ‘buzzing’ at the thrill of the ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted and Diocesan Inspection results last term and the school year is off to a great start with a huge variety of events, trips and workshops taking place between now and Christmas. The curriculum has been meticulously planned by Claire and her staff in an interesting and dynamic way, taking account of any Ofsted recommendations as well. You will no doubt already have had a chance to peruse your child’s learning journey for the term and may have thought, as I did, that school never seemed as interesting when I was young! I also do not recall teachers being as kind and as caring as they are at St Mark’s. There is a real affection for each individual child and class and this nurturing spirit really enables the children to flourish and progress. I think it also helps we parents to flourish too!
It is the time of year when governors everywhere are asked to draw parents’ attention to their School’s Profile. This is a detailed summary of the school’s previous year’s achievements plus priorities for the forthcoming one, published on a government website. This may be found online at:-
Should you prefer to read a hard copy, please ask Mrs Rivers who will be able to arrange for you to have one.
Wishing you a very happy term,
Chair of Govs.
Governor's Online Newsletter 2
Thank you so much to everyone who completed the School’s recent questionnaire to parents. It is really valuable to get feedback about your views and experiences of life at St Mark’s and it helps inform planning for the future .One of the key meetings we hold each summer, towards the end of the academic year, is to plan and produce the next academic year’s School Improvement Plan (S.I.P.); parental and pupils’ views are amongst those crucial to discussions and decision-making.
One thing we noticed from the recent questionnaire results was that quite a few of you felt you did not know whom many of the St. Mark’s governors are (perhaps we hide our light under bushels?-ha! ha! ). This is something we would like to work upon and plan therefore to do the following:-
a) Update our colour leaflet on ‘Who’s Who in the Governing Body’. We have not done this for quite some time and yes, it definitely needs doing! You should receive the new leaflet within a week or so and we hope you will enjoy seeing and reading the highly-flattering (!) thumbnail pictures and biographies therein!
b) Governors will aim to wear their identifying badges much more visibly when in School on governor business
c) Hang a photo board of all governors up in the School somewhere-no, not the undercroft!!
In the meantime, please do take a glance at the earlier article I wrote for the Learning Platform and you may be surprised to find that you do, in fact, know many of us……..but may not have realised that we were governors.
-You will all, of course, know Mrs Rivers and Mrs Sherwood as head and staff member at the School. Mrs Sherwood is also mother of Archie in Yr5;
- Rev. Di Blackden is the parish Deacon, often seen at our family assemblies, and who is now standing in for Rev. John Challis on the governing body during the Interregnum;
- Mavis Farrar has been associated with St Mark’s, forever it seems, and is like a wise and experienced Godmother to the School. She visits Red Admirals once a week to read with the children and she also makes cakes for many of our school events (and governor meetings!);
- Anne Yarrow, most of you will know as owner of Wilderness Wood, to which she and her husband kindly give the School free access in order to enrich many learning experiences, and she has a long association with St. Marks, both School and Church. Her grown up children both attended the school;
-John Eliot is the tall, slim gentleman of military bearing, often seen around the School and grounds, appraising our health and safety. John has been a key figure in the recent building project and has a brilliant eye for every nook, cranny and detail! He and his wife are also ‘big ’in Hadlow Down’s horticultural ventures!;
-Fiona Thorpe will be known to lots of you as the ever cheerful, busy, caring Practice Nurse at the Buxted Surgery. She has four grown up children, all of whom attended St Marks;
-Vicky Richards is one of our newest governors, a village stalwart and ex-member of the Parish Council. She is a leading light in Hadlow Down Variety Club ( catch her again on May 9th in ‘The Martini Murder Mystery’!) and has also been heavily involved in campaigning for the speed limit to be reduced in the village;
- Karin Green is the School’s very hard-working part-time SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) at the School and also mother of Thomas and Nathan in Yr6;
-the rest of the governors and associate members are all parents at St Mark’s-Helen Bonnick (Chris,Yr.6;Andrew,Yr.3); Martyn Taplin (Tom T.,Yr.5;Anna,Yr.1);Samantha Michaelson-Yeates (Ruth,Yr.4); Mandy Chapman (Alice,Yr.1); Paul James (Neil,Yr.2) and me, Wendy Coleman (Owen C.,Yr.5)
Hope this helps a little!
With very best wishes
Governor's Online Newsletter 1
So, what do governors do you may ask??
The governing body’s main aim is “to help raise standards of achievement and make sure that the school provides good quality education”(E.S.C.C. Website). It achieves this aim in four ways by:
1. Providing strategic direction
2. Acting as a ‘critical friend’ to the head and school
3. Monitoring the quality of the provision of teaching and learning
4. Ensuring accountability to pupils, parents, community, church, diocese and Local Authority for standards ,achievement and attainment.
Governors work as a team, sharing corporate responsibility for all decisions and actions ie individual governors have no power or responsibility. The day-day management of the school is the responsibility of the Senior Leadership Team and governors do not normally get involved in this
Full Governing Body meetings take place six times a year, ie one per term, in which we receive information from the head and other members of staff about the performance of the school; we reflect, discuss and plan; read and amend or adopt policies; share information about governor visits, training courses or meetings attended.
Every governor is a member of a key committee or panel eg- Finance Committee; Premises, Health and Safety Committee; Personnel and Pay Review Panel; Headteacher Performance Review; Admissions Panel; Disciplinary Panel et al. Committees meet once a term whilst Panels meet either annually or on an adhoc basis.
These meet as necessary and may be convened in order to work, for example, on the new prospectus annually; or to plan the way forward on a new government initiative eg Community Cohesion; Travel to School plan; or to discuss, plan and write a new School Improvement Plan(S.I.P.) annually.
Governors are duty bound to visit the school both formally and informally as part of their monitoring role. When visiting formally, the aim is to focus upon a particular area of the S.I.P. through discussion with head, staff and pupils; through observation of whole class or school activity; or by viewing and interpreting data. Informal visits on the other hand, occur very much more often and are an excellent way of getting to know the school eg family assembly, volunteering in class , going on trips or attending whole school events.
Being a supportive governor requires time, energy, enthusiasm and a sense of humour! Although there always seems to be some meeting or another to attend and yet another document or article to read and review, the work is almost always interesting and enjoyable and gives a fascinating insight into the workings of a school .Through observing how hard-working and committed the head and staff are at StMarks to providing a quality environment and experience for the children , governors feel glad that they are able to support that in whatever way they can.
I do hope this has given you a flavour of whom and what governors are and do!
Should you have any further questions or comments , please get in touch with any of us via the school and we will endeavour to answer coherently! After all , vacancies on the governing body do arise from time to time and next time, you might like to get involved!
With very best wishes
These are some School Policies that you may wish to access:
2. Anti- Bullying
3. Safeguarding of Children
4. Health and Safety
5. Community Cohesion
7. Collective Worship
15. Freedom of Information