Chair of Governors' Blog
I sit down to write this latest edition of my blog and Christmas is almost upon us. Another term has gone by and it has been a another very busy one for Governors. One thing I am learning is that there are always new issues to tackle.
The term started with the welcome return of Mrs Ahmed and it already feels like she was never away (in a good way, of course!). She has settled straight back in and has worked hard in a number of areas including on the introduction of the new curriculum. This has seen the introduction of ‘tasters’ and it is already evident that this approach is making learning more stimulating for pupils. Governors are seeing this at first hand through our visits to school.
As Governors we have been paying particular attention to finance this term. The funding of schools has been much in the news in recent months and, whatever the claims (or should that be ‘spin’) of Government, money for the Crescent – as with most schools - is very tight. We are in the fortunate position that additional money comes with the ongoing growth in pupil numbers. But, of course, there are equally additional costs that go with welcoming them to the school. We are determined to ensure that finances continue to be well managed and properly accounted for, to ensure the long-term future of the school.
Last term we identified the need to improve our communication with parents and carers. We re-ran our survey and our Governor team was out in force at the recent parents’ evenings. Thank you for the terrific response – both to the questionnaire and to behaving it thrust under your nose. We found it a really helpful opportunity to meet parents and carers and hear about your experiences first hand. No doubt we will wish to repeat it next year. The survey results are set out in our latest ‘Satellite’ newsletter, which can be accessed here.
The lead up to Christmas is a busy one for the social calendar at school – always the most fun part of being a Governor. Particular highlights for me and my family have been the Christmas Fayre (well done Friends of the Crescent for laying on such a great event and for raising so much money) and the carol concert – especially with the appearance of snow!
All that remains is for me to thank the Governor team for all their work and support throughout the year and to wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. On a similar theme, I thought I would close this blog with this fascinating seasonal infographic – I hope you find it as interesting as I did -
Hello and welcome again to my blog. This term seems to have gone in a flash and what a busy one it has been.
It has been a time of change at the Crescent, and time waits for no man (or woman). The start of term saw the arrival of our interim Head, Lisa Hodgkinson, and I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to her for the seamless way in which she has picked up the reins and, still, managed to keep a focus on improvement at the Crescent. It has been a pleasure to work with Miss Hodgkinson and we, as Governors, have been able to learn from her experience elsewhere. This is also the perfect opportunity for me to say, on behalf of all Governors, huge congratulations to Mrs Ahmed on the arrival of Harry.
Alongside Miss Hodgkinson there was also the arrival of a number of new members of staff and they all seem to have settled very well in joining our excellent team. A number of these arrivals are, of course, to support the ongoing expansion of the school and it comes as quite a shock to realise the we are almost three quarters of the way to our full pupil complement – five of the seven year groups are now ‘three form entry’. It is really noticeable when attending school events now how full we are getting! All the building work now seems a long way in the past.
Alongside the staff arrivals, we have also welcomed three new Governors this term (more detail in our newsletter ‘Satellite’). Our new arrivals have been busy getting up to speed and are already contributing well to the business of Governance.
We had a recent Governors’ visit to school where we are able to see many classes in action, as well as an opportunity to meet all staff. All Governors left the visit hugely impressed by the work being done in class. There is no substitute for being able to see the teaching first hand and it really brought to life the monitoring information that we receive.
The Autumn Term, and the run up to Christmas in particular, gives great opportunity to see the diversity of talent at the Crescent. I had the privilege of attending the final concert of the Hampshire County Council Chairman’s ‘Year of Music’ at Thornden Hall (details here). The Junior Choir performed ‘Crescent Moon’ as the finale - stirring stuff! No less enjoyable were the recent Carol Concerts I attended at Eastleigh Baptist Church.
The Governors have also been busy with our ‘day job’ (more realistically, ‘evening job’) of supporting and challenging the school – helping to ensure your children receive the best education possible. We set our Medium Term Vision for the school and that is set out in the latest newsletter (see link above). We are ambitious for and optimistic about the future of the Crescent and have tried to capture that in our vision. We will keep this under regular review, so please let us know if you have any views.
Having finished my previous blogs with inspirational quotes I see no reason to break with that tradition – plus it has been fun looking out for these while online. This term I have gone with a quote from the hugely inspirational Malala Yousafzai -
Welcome to this the second edition of my blog. It seems an absolute age since I wrote the Spring edition - which I think just goes to show how busy things have been over the last few months.
We have achieved a lot in that time and I will aim to flag some of the main headlines with you. However, I do not want to steal the thunder of the editor our new newsletter - Satellite. For those who have not yet found it, the newsletter is on the website (like this blog, accessed via the ‘Governors Star’) and is part of a wider drive to improve communication with you. The next edition is due out before the Summer holiday and will provide some of the detail behind these headlines.
Of course the introduction of the newsletter is one of the headlines in itself! I talked in my Spring blog about improving communication - we then conducted a parents’ survey and received great feedback on a whole variety of issues. The results are currently being analysed and will be published soon.
One of the achievements I am most pleased to report on is the replacement of the artificial turf on the school playing field. When the turf was originally laid it was to the wrong specification, which meant that the childrens’ use of the area had to be limited. Since Easter, when the contractor returned and laid the correct turf, the field has been put again to its proper use - childrens’ education and enjoyment. The recent sports days were the first real test and the turf passed with flying colours! It was a tale of persistence getting the contractor to accept liability but we got there in the end.
The arts has been one of the areas of the curriculum under particular focus this year. This has, for me, provided some of my particular recent personal highlights of Governance. Two particularly notable events that I had the pleasure to attend were the performances of the school choir at The Point and at the Turner Simms Concert Hall in Southampton. The children all performed fantastically throughout and were truly a credit to the school. Of course, we have the recent news that the Crescent School song is under production too. It is due for release to download on iTunes, with a live release at the end of this term. Thank you to parents Steve Petty and Tom Leyman for your great work on this - what a truly inspirational project!
Of course it hasn’t all been ‘play’ - there has been ‘work’ too. Governors have been hard at work carrying out monitoring visits and undertaking training. We have payed particular attention to monitoring Maths and English this term and have followed up previous visits on provision for disadvantaged children and on child safety. Training has included a session on monitoring and evaluation which was held jointly with three other schools. Seeing what other schools do is a great way of picking up better ways of doing things. It is also a living example of ‘working together’ alongside ‘learning for life’.
The other piece of ‘work’ has been the appointment of a temporary Headteacher for next year to cover Mrs Ahmed’s maternity leave. I am very pleased that we have secured the services of a temporary Head with a fantastic record and we all look forward to working with Miss Hodgkinson next year.
Before I wrap things up I should highlight that we have invited applications to fill a current vacancy for a parent Governor. The letter went to all parents on 26 June. Application forms (and more detail if needed) are available from the school office and completed forms need to be returned by 6 July.
I finished my previous blog with an inspirational quote and will do so again. This time, I have gone a bit old school and picked a quote from Confucius - this just seems so apt in the current politically uncertain times...
Hello and welcome to this, my first blog. I have the admit that this is the first time I have tried anything like this, so it will be a learning experience for me and potentially a steep learning curve. That feels entirely right though, given that we actively promote and value Lifelong Learning at the Crescent. Practicing what we preach!
I would like to use this blog as an opportunity to introduce members of the Governing Body to you over the course of time. I should, of course, start by introducing myself. My name is Dominic McGrath and I am Chair of Governors. I am 53 and have lived in Eastleigh for about eight years. My son attends the school and is in Year 3. In my 'day job' I work in the Environment Department at Hampshire County Council. Besides Governance my main interests are walking, playing board games and watching and playing a range of sports. One of my great passions is supporting my home town football club, Cambridge United (sorry Saints fans).
The academic year has been a very busy one for Governors so far. We came out of the Summer with two vacancies, following the retirement of two of our long standing members. That has meant that other Governors have been worked even harder than normal to make sure that all key roles were covered. I am immensely thankful and proud of the team for pulling together to keep things running. I am very pleased to say that we have now recruited two new Governors to fill our vacancies, David Kindon and Robert Wayman. We are pleased to welcome them both to the Governing Body. The skills they bring seem entirely complementary to those that we already have. We carried out a skills audit as part of the recruitment process.
This term marks the third anniversary of our last Ofsted inspection, which means that our next inspection becomes due at any time. We achieved a rating of 'Good' last time around and aspire to at least match that. We have been reviewing the process Ofsted will follow to make sure we can meet all of the requirements to retain our rating.
Two particular recent focuses have been on ensuring that children are safe in school (as it always should be) and on how the school utilises top-up funding for pupils with particular needs. Governors have been carrying out a series of visits to ensure that the school is meeting requirements in both these key areas. I had the pleasure of visiting the school both this term and last to look at the provision for pupils with special educational needs. There has been much work in this area and I am confident that this will lead to an improved system for supporting these pupils needs. There is an increasing emphasis on inclusion within classes and on 'differentiation', to focus on the needs of each and every child. I believe that this approach will benefit all pupils, not just those with special needs.
Recent headlines reinforce the importance of internet safety and fellow Governors have visited to ensure that appropriate advice is being given to children. I would encourage all parents to review the information available on the school's website.
The government is currently consulting on a new national formula for school funding. The Governing Body will be responding to the consultation. The consultation closes on 22nd March.
I would like to close this first blog with this fantastic quote from BB King -
Introduction and Welcome
Hello and welcome to my blog. I have been Chair of Governors for approximately three months and was a member of the school's Governing Body for about 18 months before that. I have been increasingly conscious of the need to improve our communication with parents and other local stakeholders and the introduction of this blog is a first step in doing so. We also have plans to introduce regular newsletters and an annual 'impact report' that will expand on some of the themes I introduce over the course of the year through this blog.
As a Governing Body we want to ensure that the wider school community is kept well informed and, also, to give the opportunity for you to let us know your thoughts and concerns. If at any point you do want to get in touch, please feel free to contact me via the school office.
With this blog I aim to -
Keep you up to date with the latest news and let you know what is coming up
Give some insight to the Governing Body and what it is we do
Highlight opportunities for you to get involved or have your say
I would also, from the outset, want to use it to thank my fellow Governors, our headteacher Mrs Ahmed and all staff and volunteers for the tremendous help and support in ensuring that the children at the Crescent receive the best possible education. It really is a team effort and that is ultimately what makes this role so rewarding. A huge heartfelt thank you to you all.
We, the Governors, are all signed up to the school's vision and values. The work of the Governors reflects these in that we are Working Together as a team, that we are continuing to improve ourselves and our knowledge, continuing our own journey Learning for Life, and through our high ambitions for the school are consistently Reaching for the Stars.
I hope you find this blog informative and useful.
Dominic McGrath, Chair of Governors