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St. James' CE Primary School

Our School Governors

A letter to Parents, posted at end of Spring Term 2017, follows here and is also listed as an attachment to download at the bottom of this page. Other details regarding the Governor committees follows this letter.

Dear Parents and Carers,


This letter is rather like an end of term report.  Sorry if it’s a bit longer than usual, but it’s been a very busy time for the governors.

We welcome the parent governor, Christine Oettinger who was elected in February.

As you probably know there are five main committees which do most of the detailed work and scrutiny.  These meet once a term and the full Governing Body also meets each term.

At the FGB meeting the major decisions are made: policies are approved; the multi-million pound budget is signed off; the attainment and progress of the children is carefully monitored; major building and renovation works are scheduled.

The Governing Body also plans for the future development of St.James’, reviewing curriculum, personnel and building plans.

Underpinning all that we do are the Christian values of this Church of England School.

As you can imagine the governing body has tremendous responsibilities. We are very fortunate in having a highly experienced board whose members come from a wide variety of backgrounds.  For example, they include an ex-MP, a retired school inspector, a financial expert from a major accountancy firm, the owner of a local building firm, a barrister, a former SEN teacher and a professor of education. They freely give their time and energy to promote the success and well-being of the school they love.

So what have the various committees been concerned with this term?

Finance and Personnel Committee
Simon Hughes, Jim Hutchinson, Peter Evans, Penny Molyneux, Rosie Rafferty, Mathew Gullick and Karen Willis.

The committee is well aware of the implications of an impending budget cut of around 3%. Consultation is underway and more details will be discussed at the June meeting.

It was noted that all the staff met their performance management targets.

Each year we are required to respond to a detailed DfE questionnaire to ensure that we comply with a wide range of financial and governance requirements. We are pleased to say that we have met all of these.  We also compare well on benchmarking with similar London schools.

Money has been earmarked for projected major building and repair works which we foresee will be required soon.

Curriculum Committee
Simon Hughes, Jim Hutchinson, Rosie Rafferty, Gary Jenkins, Penny Molyneux, Mathew Gullick,  Mandy Warren, Christine |Ottinger, Karen Willis.

This term the Curriculum Committee has been concerned with the following aspects:

(a) to scrutinise the children’s attainment and progress to see if we can help to close any gaps that may appear

(b) to ensure that the school is not letting any gaps occur between subjects, gender, ethnicity, Ever 6*, SEN etc.

(c) to support and encourage a wider curriculum

(d) to monitor the effects of the many initiatives the school has in place to improve standards.

(e) to monitor how the pupil premium money is spent.  (See school website for details).

At the last meeting we asked for data to explain the apparent discrepancy between StJ’s 2016 SATs and those of similar schools.

After intensive investigation it was revealed that when social deprivation factors are taken into account, our results are comparable with, and in many cases superior to, similar schools with a similar intake.

Bottom lines

(a) Excellent attainment/progress in Early Years

(b) Robust measures in place to raise attainment/progress in Reading and Writing at KS1

(c) Yr 2 Ever 6* significantly below national average in Reading and Writing

(d) Yr 6 Ever 6* on average, better than national figures.

(e) Predictions for KS2 are promising and mostly above national average

(f) Very beneficial effect of small classes in Yr6

(g) Curriculum enriched by French and Latin classes

(h) Resources devoted to Maths Medics, Breakfast Club, Sound Training, Brilliant Club and Outdoor Learning paying handsome dividends

*Ever 6 = children who have at any time been in receipt of Free School Meals

The Pupil Premium Working Group, on which several governors sit, is very active in trying out a wide range of initiatives to improve and enhance the progress and attainment of Pupil Premium children.

Keeping on top of the data

The amount of data which schools are obliged to keep in order to track and monitor the progress and attainment of children is gargantuan.

We are fortunate in having Assistant Headteacher, Helena Moore who is able to digest and present this to us in a more digestible form.  The governors are also to have a special training session to enable them to interpret and monitor these data.

Learning Environment
Simon Hughes, Jim Hutchinson, Pat O’Connor, Pete King, Gary Jenkins, Christine Oettinger, Karen Willis

There are two perennial problems: the roof and the hall floor at the Old Jamaica Road site.

After what seems like an age of tests, probing and exploratory excavations, the experts still haven’t definitively identified the source of the underground water beneath the Hall floor.  So the rather ugly plywood floor remains.  On a brighter note the heating problem was solved when a large section of corroded pipe was discovered embedded in the concrete floor under the kitchen.

The roof at the OJR site has now been fixed.  How long this will last is anybody’s guess.

Our efforts, coupled with those of St.James’ Church, to do something about the dangerous rat run via Thurland Road have borne fruit. A new traffic scheme will soon be implemented.

The new perimeter fencing, the improved playground facilities, the car parking and the access route to the OJR site are much appreciated.

Admissions Committee
Simon Hughes, Jim Hutchinson, Pat O’Connor, Karen Willis

This met to review the applications of 2017 and to make sure that the list we forward to the Local Authority complies with our admissions policy.

No changes to our policy were made and we confirmed to the LA that we shall have 60 reception places for 2018.

Governance Committee
The school has over fifty policies - covering everything from Admissions to Whole School Attendance.  The governors are responsible for these and this committee sees that they are regularly reviewed and updated.

The Governance Committee has begun a skills audit.  This will enable us to see if there are any gaps in the expertise of the GB and will also help us to formulate a more targeted training programme for governors.

The main GB agreed to reconstitute this committee as a Steering Committee consisting of Simon Hughes, Jim Hutchinson, Peter Evans and Karen Willis.

Its’ main purpose will be to think and plan strategically for the mid to long term. It will inform debate and decisions to be made by the full GB.

The governors acknowledge the support and encouragement from parents and carers and from the church community of St.James’. 

They would also like to express their thanks and gratitude to the staff for their hard work and enthusiasm.

Best wishes

Jim Hutchinson
(Vice Chair Board of Governors)

What do Governors Do?

That was one of the questions a girl asked the governors when they visited the school recently.

A good question!

Ultimately we are responsible for overseeing all aspects of the school and making sure that the children receive the very best education while they are with us.

Much of the work of the governors is carried out in specialist committees.   These, in no special order, are as follows:

The Finance and Personnel Committee scrutinizes the multi-million pound budget; approves the teachers’ performance management and targets; reviews and agrees pay policy, staffing levels, etc.

The Curriculum Committee is concerned with all aspects of teaching and learning and takes a keen interest in the attainment and progress of all the children.  The committee receives regular reports from the various subject leaders and keeps abreast of what goes on in the classroom.

The Learning Environment Committee deals with all sorts of questions from the really big decisions about extensions to the building, to deciding how many toilets we need or what to do about the Hall floor.  An important function of this committee is to make sure that all Health and Safety checks and procedures are being observed.

The Admissions Committee has one of the knottiest problems to deal with – setting a fair and transparent admissions policy which meets local needs and satisfies the Department for Education regulations.

Underpinning all we do is the importance of upholding the Christian ethos of the school. The Faith Committee meets regularly and reviews and advises on this.

We have recently set up two new groups.  One monitors all the policies and regulations we are required to keep and another has been set the task of improving communications at all levels.