The Corsham School Academy Group Committees

Finance, Personnel and Property Committee Newsletter Report Spring 2019

The Finance, Personnel and Property Committee’s key responsibilities are to oversee the financial governance of the Corsham School Academy Group (so for both the Corsham School and Corsham Regis) and employment and building related matters.

Finance

The committee has worked over the last few years to ensure the schools are always projecting forward the financial position of the schools for the next 3 years. School funding is very challenging nationally, due to increasing pension costs and limited funding increases and locally we have had a reduction in student numbers over the last few years which has meant the schools are receiving less income. In the last few years we have had to work with the leadership team of the schools to review where the schools can reduce costs while ensuring we have as little impact as possible on learning outcomes. Having a clear medium-term forecast has enabled us to do this in a managed way with minimal impact on the curriculum offer, its related staffing and avoiding the need for compulsory redundancies.

On an annual basis we propose a budget for the school to the Board of Directors, taking into account the expected income and the costs to run the curriculum as agreed.

Every month we monitor the actual financial position against the budget set and the cashflow for the school.

Employment

The committee reviews policies associated with pay and performance and on a monthly basis receives a staffing report. This report allows us to review by curriculum area to monitor if there are particular staffing pressures eg sickness, vacancies or maternity leave. This year we have seen a reduction in staff sickness and at our last meeting we heard about the newly formed staff wellbeing groups which are looking at measures to try and improve the working lives of staff at both The Corsham School and Corsham Regis.

Property

The Committee receives updates on health and safety visits that are carried out by one of the governors. We also keep an overview on the new build of the sixth form centre. This building is being funded by section 106 money, which is funding received by the council to fund public services infrastructure from the property developers that are building new houses around Corsham. This year we have also agreed to fund some refurbishment of common areas and a number of the toilet blocks in the school. Many of you might have heard from your son/daughter that they have noticed freshly painted corridors and new flooring going down. There is  also  a programme of replacing a wide range of chairs, tables and blinds.

Audit Committee Newsletter Report Spring 2019

The Audit Committee’s key responsibilities involve: appointing internal auditors to conduct audits of school funds; recommending external auditors for annual appointment; checking that the budget is properly spent; checking that contracts and services are delivered following reasonable procurement practice; approving audited accounts; and seeking to ensure that a sound system of risk management is in operation, in each case for the Corsham School Academy Group as a whole (so for both the Corsham School and Corsham Regis).

There is a fair amount of overlap with the work of the Finance Committee (and the membership of each committee is the same). 

A sub-committee of the Finance and Audit Committees worked closely with Corsham School regarding the contractor appointment process for the new sixth form centre.   An Academy needs to appoint contractors directly and hence it is crucial for work to be carried out within budget.  Any overspend would eat directly into school reserves, and those may be needed for unforeseen circumstances or to protect against some of the consequences of the current funding regime.

The appointment process for the sixth form centre involved working closely with the Corsham School, architects and building consultants to get an agreed specification to go out to tender, ensuring that a value engineering process was carried out to get the designs submitted as tender responses within budget, reviewing the contractual arrangements as well as the council funding; and appointing professionals to monitor progress against milestones.  So far, the project remains on track and within budget.

We have also encouraged the schools to put in place key performance indicators or "KPIs" to measure performance against other comparable schools.  This is always difficult as no two schools are identical and the public information available is limited and often not up to date, but we have made some good progress.

Another piece of work we commissioned towards the end of last year was a governance audit, to check how the Academy compared with best practice.  We felt it was important not to be complacent and want to be able to present a strong case when Ofsted next visit.  We were delighted that the results of the audit showed that we had relatively solid governance mechanisms in place: there was some fine-tuning to be done here and there, which is being addressed, but nothing substantial.  Similarly, the results of the financial audits we have had have not given rise to any areas of major concern: in the audit scene no news is generally regarded as a good thing.

CAL Committee Newsletter Report Spring 2019

The Curriculum and Learning (CAL) Committee’s key responsibilities are to scrutinise data & target-setting and monitor compliance with curriculum, inclusion and equality obligations.

Data

The committee always reviews and asks questions about:

  • The summer GCSE and A Level results: to establish what did and did not go well and why
  • The Mocks results: to see how this year’s GCSE and A Level year groups are progressing/raise queries about the support put in place where required

Following the disappointing Ofsted, the committee have (this year in particular) been more focused on maintenance of consistent high standards, including:

  • Understanding the challenges of specific groups of students – grasping the support strategies put in place for them and how their impact is assessed, and assistance tailored to help all students to maximise their potential
  • Reviewing progress towards targets across the year – to help identify and quickly deal with any areas of concern 
  • Reviewing data for all year groups – not just the exam year groups - again, predominantly to help early identification and intervention to rectify any issues

Pupil data is generally improving and where there are areas of further development, these and the plans for dealing with them are clear.

Curriculum

Key Stage 4 curriculum changes were required due the new style GCSEs as there was simply not enough time for all students to succeed as per the previous model. Leadership presented the proposed new options model and the committee discussed the need for all learners to be offered unrestricted opportunities (whilst ensuring appropriate support - especially for Special Educational Needs/less able students), taking specific account of statutory elements and ensuring that the right people deliver the right content. As a result of this, and a Parent consultation, GCSE options for Year 10 have changed this year, and those of you with Year 9 students will have seen the results of these discussions. Please see here: http://www.corsham.wilts.sch.uk/Options-2019

As many of the committee are parents, we raised the concerns many of you would, and leadership have satisfied us that plans are in place, taking elements of the practice of other schools delivering on a similarly limited timetable.

Inclusion and Equality

Whilst reviewing the progress and outcomes for all students, the committee particularly focuses on vulnerable groups and we satisfy ourselves that the school has robust procedures to identify and support them.

The committee is currently involved in the overhaul of the school’s equality policy – which is being revised to be an Equality & Diversity policy – designed to further encourage the school’s culture of an inclusive, tolerant and comprehensive educational environment.

CGSL Committee Newsletter Report Spring 2019

The Care, Guidance & Support for Learning (CGSL) Committee’s key responsibilities are to make sure the school has a culture and system of pastoral care that ensures we do our best to look after and support all students, staff, parents and carers during their time at the school.  We agree a behaviour principles statement (and ensure its appropriate publication) review admissions, help further inclusion and equalities, and support the school’s parent, pupils and community responsibilities.

Behaviour

As you will all be aware, the school’s behaviour strategy has recently been revised and leadership presented detailed information regarding these changes prior to and during implementation.   We regularly monitor the impact of these strategies through tracking data and consideration of anonymised case studies.  This ensures positive behaviours are sufficiently rewarded and become the norm/more common in school culture, and interventions are in place to reduce negative behaviours and limit their detrimental impact on student progress and learning.

Admissions

At each of our meetings leadership report on current numbers on roll, including joiners and leavers by year group since the previous meeting. Whilst all schools have a certain amount of fluctuation, we specifically monitor reasons for moves to ensure we are aware if there are any leavers motivated by dissatisfaction with provision at our school.

Inclusion and Equality

In conjunction with CAL, the committee is currently involved in the overhaul of the school’s equality & diversity provisions, as noted by CAL, this is focused on further encouraging the school’s culture of an inclusive, tolerant and comprehensive educational environment.  We hope to meet with student representatives as part of this review as their input is invaluable.

Community Responsibilities

CGSL monitors the school’s compliance with statutory guidance and best practice – particularly through review of policies and procedures (e.g. for Looked After Children and Complaints). We also closely monitor safeguarding procedures and practice.

A summary of formal complaints is delivered to CGSL and we help improve interaction with parents via review of Home/School Agreements, participation in various school events and discussing strategies for parental communications with leadership.

Highlights of presentations made to CGSL this year include:

THRIVE – which is a set of strategies and resources used to support and plan students’ emotional and social development relevant to their age. It also focuses on helping to understand a child’s challenging or troubling behaviour as communication. This is an exciting and flexible way of supporting our young people’s mental health and includes powerful links for direct referrals to CAMHS.

Attendance Strategies – which are focused on a strong and consistent message and response, working with families to support their children’s attendance at school.  It is clear that procedures are being streamlined and improvements being made, and pastoral leaders are very hopeful that with school and families working together challenges will be overcome and all our students will be able to maximise the educational opportunities available to them.

Corsham Regis Local Governing Body - Governance Update 2019

2019 has been a challenging year for the governance team at Corsham Regis. We have had some members reach the end of their 4-year term of office and embarked on a recruitment drive to find new members with the skills and passion to make a real difference in the school. I can confirm that we have replacements for both outgoing governors and they come with fresh eyes and energy to challenge and support our wonderful school.

The team has been working with the school to ensure they reach the goals as set out from the last Ofsted inspection, centred around improving the quality of teaching, helping the school leaders be as effective as possible and ultimately improving he outcomes for all children. We monitor all areas of the school and ensure policies are up to date and aligned with the Multi-Academy Trust. We ensure our ever-reducing funding is being spent as wisely as possible and that the Trust's resources are being used as efficiently as possible. We monitor the data associated to the children's outcomes and provide support where needed with our skills from our non-education based working lives.