NEWS: See below content of our Governing Board Annual Newsletter
The Governing Board or Body of our school helps to ensure the quality of education provision and to act as the accountable body for the school. We do this by setting the strategic vision and the ethos of the school, together with monitoring and challenging the school’s performance, and recruiting and holding to account the Head Teacher.
The Governing Board is made up of 15 people. Some members are elected and some are co-opted and include members of staff, parents, an appointee of the Local Authority and other local people; all of whom have the sole aim of seeing the wonderful children at the school receive the very best education possible.
If you wish to contact a member of the Governing Body, please speak to Robin or a member of the Office Team.
Governing Body Committees
Curriculum & Pupil Welfare Committee
Chaired by Ophelia Field
Staffing, Leadership & Performance Committee
Chaired by Hilary Aylesworth
Finance & Premises Committee
Chaired by Gavin Davies
Governing Board Members
Governing Board Annual Newsletter – July 2018
I am writing to you because several parents have said they’re keen to know a bit more about the Governing Board at the school. Hopefully this letter will become an annual tradition so you can better understand how the school is run and what the Governors have done each year. It’s also a pleasure to be able to congratulate all the staff and the pupils on a wonderful year of learning, lots of hard work and very impressive results.
It has been an incredible year at Primrose Hill. The recently opened nursery provision for 2-year-olds has been a great success. Not only is it providing an excellent standard of care and education to the youngest in the school, but through some tough negotiations we have been able to fund the re-development of most of the early years space. If you’ve been around the school for a couple of years or more, you’ll remember the previous “arches” space as unattractive and under-utilised. It’s now a state-of-the-art double-sized classroom, ready for welcoming our new intake of children in September.
Looking at this year’s results, in Reception, “Good Level of Development” and Phonics results are on an upward trajectory once again. Both Years 2 and 6 achieved fantastic SATs scores.
Staff turn-over has been very low this year, and both pupil and staff attendance has been on the increase after hard work by the Senior Leadership. The Senior Leadership Team has worked efficiently and effectively to manage the day-to-day running of the school, to liaise with a wide range of other schools and expert bodies across the UK, and to make Robin’s future vision for the school — including the barge classroom — a reality.
The Governing Board would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff for their hard work and unending dedication to our children. We are very proud of all you have achieved.
Looking forward, 2018/19 is set to be another fantastic year. There are many exciting events taking place, challenges to be met and of course we’ll be aiming even higher in all that we do.
The Governing Board
So what is the Governing Board all about? The Governors work as a team and they’re responsible for making sure the school provides a good quality education for all its pupils. We aim to continuously raise standards, plan the school’s future direction and help Robin and the Senior Leadership Team to do the very best job they can. We also oversee the school’s budget to make sure we’re getting the best possible value for money – an important task in these days of shrinking funding, rising costs and increased expectations. The school is also regularly helped by our Professional Partner, a very experienced ex-headteacher and ex-Ofsted inspector who brings a valuable external perspective.
Some governors are chosen (by parents, by staff or by Camden, the Local Authority) and others are selected by other governors. This helps us to make sure we have an appropriate mix of skills – some people with expertise in education, some in management, some in finance, and so on. If you’re interested in becoming a governor or in finding out more about what we do, please have a word with Robin who will be able to point you in the right direction.
Whilst the Governing Board meets several times a year, at least once each term, we also have several committees. These each have a focus and they too meet at least once a term.
Curriculum and Pupil Welfare
The Curriculum and Pupil Welfare Committee is all about the learning that goes on in our school and the welfare of all our children. It’s been a really busy year for this committee. We have looked in detail at the previous results, broken down by different categories, such as ethnicity, gender, summer born, disadvantaged, etc. to make sure the school is doing a good job for all pupils. We have a number of Link Governors who have a focus on particular things, such as Maths or English, or particular topics like Special Education Needs and Disability, Mental Health or Safeguarding. Each of these Governors make special visits to the school regularly and report back to the committee.
Throughout the year we review progress to make sure the expected targets are being met. We also receive presentations from members of staff about the work they’re doing in the school. The school is always evaluating itself, both internally through regular “Learning Walks”, “Book Looks” and “Pupil Progress Meetings” and externally through things like the Challenge Partner’s Programme and as part of the work we do with a cluster of local schools in a Collaborative Review. This committee receives reports on all these activities and discusses them in detail with the Senior Leadership Team, as well as scrutinizing anonymous case studies to understand how the school is supporting pupils with particular needs or difficulties.
This committee also deals with a large number of policies – it revised and approved no fewer than 15 policies this year, ensuring that they comply with the law and best practice. Most of them are on the school website if you’re interested to read further.
Finance and Premises
The Finance and Premises Committee keep a watchful eye on the school’s finances and the buildings. Robin does an incredible job of getting great value for the school and, with the help of the School Business Manager and other staff, he proposes an annual budget which is looked at carefully by the Committee. If, during the year, he needs to deviate from the budget he can do so, but if it’s a large amount he will seek approval from the Governors. The school manages all of its own finances, but it isn’t allowed to go overdrawn and sometimes we have to deal with unforeseen expenses, just like a household might. For this reason, we start the year with a modest contingency sum and if it’s not needed Robin will spend it in all kinds of creative ways to make the school a better place. With the school being such an old building and with all the building work going on, there is always a lot to discuss in this committee. One example is the replacement of the heating, water pipes and electricals as well as the refurbishment of all the windows, for which Governors met with the local Planners as well as the Primrose Hill Conservation Society to negotiate these essential works.
Staffing, Leadership and Performance
The Staffing, Leadership and Performance committee deals with overseeing all the staff at the school and the performance of the school as a whole. With over 85 staff at the school, it’s a big task. Because the school evaluates its own performance in so many different ways there is lots of information to consider. We have been monitoring attendance closely and hope to see further improvements this year. The Senior Leadership Team manage the performance of all staff across the school and the Governors monitor this process. Even Robin has regular Performance Management and this is taken care of by a dedicated group of Governors with help from an external expert.
Did you know?
There is so much hard work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure the very best education for your child. Here a few facts you may be surprised to learn:
- The school has to find and buy all the services we use, from hiring a Headteacher to buying insurance, negotiating photocopier contracts to painting the walls, as well as the more obvious things like paying all the staff. It has been many years since the Local Authority did these things for schools. If we want advice from the Local Authority, we have to pay for it out of the school budget.
Every member of staff goes through a process of Continuing Professional Development – all the teachers and teaching assistants have targets, evaluations and training, on an ongoing basis.
Funding per pupil is falling 6.5% between 2015 and 2019. This is the biggest fall in the last 30 years.
- Whilst some schools in Camden are struggling to fill their available places, Primrose Hill is thriving – we receive no fewer than eight applicants for every one child offered a Reception place. We are also bucking the trend compared to other Camden schools with our high demand for places for two, three and four year olds.
- In many Camden primary schools, they struggle to find volunteers to be parent governors and so they rarely have elections; at Primrose Hill, we get lots of people standing. And the number of votes cast in the elections has increased 5 fold in recent years. We have great parental engagement at Primrose Hill.
- Governors are one of the largest unpaid volunteer groups in the UK.
To those families leaving us at the end of Year 6, the Governors wish you the very best of luck in your future education. For those families in other years, the Governors look forward to welcoming you back in September, refreshed and ready for another amazing year.
With best wishes for a peaceful, sunny summer and kind regards to all,
Chair of the Governing Board
If you want to find out more about the Governing Board at Primrose Hill Primary School or perhaps become more involved in its work, please write to the Chair of Governors – Gavin Davies – at the school.