Orchard Lea Infant School
In the most recent Ofsted inspection, in October 2016, Orchard Lea Infant School was confirmed as a good school. There is every reason to be pleased with this judgement including, as it does, mention of “high standards, strong leadership and sharp focus on what could be even better.” This was at a time when the assessment processes had just changed significantly and results from the summer of 2016 were neither moderated nor officially confirmed in relation to other schools.
The Former Headteacher, Alison Pratt and current Acting Headteacher Janet Pidgeon and their staff have steered a steady yet progressive ship throughout the turbulence of 2015-16, relying on their experience and expertise at a time when national initiatives and directives have come and gone. The nature of the education system is that it is constantly changing and improving and these effect the school in all year groups. The whole school team works together to ensure the best outcomes for all pupils.
The funding a school receives is determined by numbers of pupils, social demographics and the decisions made by local and national government. The financial year runs April to March, the school year September to August, and funding can change significantly during the year. School finances are, year on year, a major challenge to all involved.
One of the governing body’s main duties is “ensuring financial solvency and probity with effective management of financial resources…” This covers day to day practice as well as wider management, ranging from belt-tightening in difficult times to deciding priorities when funds are available. This past year, the school faced the challenge of reduced funding, caused by the smaller cohort in Year R and changes to the ways in which funds are distributed. Unlike previous years the school was unable to prevent the need to restructure the school, which sadly meant we had to make a number of staff redundant.
Although governors do not play a daily role in financial matters, members of the Finance Committee carry out a number of checks throughout the year as part of the annual financial self assessment known as the Schools Financial Value Statement (SFVS). Finance Committee meet at least 5 times a year with the school finance officer who goes through the current financials with them, this is also then shared with the Full Governing Body. (FGB) at their half termly meetings.
The Pay and Personnel Committee participate in pay policy decisions and undertake a performance management audit annually.
The Headteacher gives regular reports to the full governing body about how Pupil Premium Funding and Sports Funding are being spent.
Although governors play a significant role in the strategic financial management, nothing would be possible without the meticulous care with which the headteacher and her staff approach all financial matters.
This summer the courtyard was resurfaced and tidied up making it an area for all pupils to enjoy. There are also plans to landscape the area next to the school kitchen which will benefit both the infant school but also the Junior School.
Impact of the Governing Body
When a school is performing as well as Orchard Lea Infant School, the governing body is not faced with overseeing drastic measures or remedial action. There is still much that a governing body can do to support the school in its pursuit of improvement.
Ofsted praised the governing body in many areas although included the statement
The school’s analysis of progress information is now easily accessible to leaders and managers, who use this information well. However, governors do not interrogate the information quite so sharply.
This was quite strange as governors have monitored closely progress and performance data throughout, even though official data has not been available. Nevertheless, whole governing body training in January 2017 was on school performance data and governors will continue their thorough approach. The benefit of this detailed monitoring is that governors are aware of progress and performance throughout the year and can ask what has led to improved performance or what is being done to address any underperformance.
In order to maximise governing body effectiveness, governors do far more throughout the year other than attend meetings. For example, they do the following
|Training||Governors attend training courses and briefings to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. The Governing Body does an annual self-assessment and an annual skills audit.|
|Monitoring school initiatives and attending events||
Governors come into school to see new teaching and learning initiatives in action. They also attend assemblies, performances, Stay and Create/Play sessions and parents’ evenings as well as acting as R Factor judges and helping at the Christmas dinner!
Individual governors have specific roles in monitoring areas of curriculum and school procedures. Terms of Reference for these roles are revisited each October.
|Educational Visits||One or more governors go on almost all school educational visits. This has a dual impact – governors can observe the benefits of the visits and also provide adult helpers who have clearance and safeguarding awareness.|
|Health and Safety||Our Buildings Committee work with the school’s Caretaker and Head Teacher to complete checks and audits each year in accordance with the Health and Safety Policy. There is a very proactive approach to Health and Safety in the school and a governor regularly assists the Caretaker with site inspections|
|Safeguarding||Safeguarding is a top priority to Orchard Lea governors. In the Spring of 2018, the whole governing body had a training evening on Safeguarding. The Safeguarding Governor helps the Headteacher to complete an annual audit of the child protection procedures throughout the school and safeguarding is discussed at every meeting of the governing body|
|Governor Recruitment||We are so grateful for the amount of time governors give to the role. We have been delighted to recruit two new governors in 2019 and we still have vacancies. We continue to promote our vacancies with Hampshire Governor Services and School Governors One-Stop Shop (SGOSS).|
The purpose of any governing body, no matter what type of school it may be is the following 3 core functions
- Ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction
- Holding executive leaders to account for the educational performance of the organisation and its pupils, and the effect and efficient performance management of staff; and
- Overseeing the financial performance of the organisation and making sure its money is well spent.
These are our main functions and we as a Governing body try to be effective in these areas to help ensure the best outcomes for all our pupils.
At Orchard Lea Infant School, we are blessed with a happy and positive family, from the children all the way down to the governors. This is not down to luck.
In an age when performance is expected to be intensively measured, the school is a high achiever. There is much more to this success than can be expressed in bare statistics. The staff and children receive constant praise from those hosting school visits about behaviour and enthusiasm. Visitors to the school, whether they are prospective parents or education professionals, remark on the warm, happy and friendly atmosphere.
When success is achieved, it should be celebrated and then built upon.
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