As individuals we visit the school on a regular basis, but it isn’t often that we all go into school during a normal “working” day as a large group. I am extremely pleased to report that governors had a full day in school a couple of weeks ago and it was lovely to see a 90% attendance of governors (we are all volunteers).
9 out of 10 of our governors attended school on Wednesday 24th February 2016.
The purpose of the day was:
- for governors to come into school during a “normal” working day
- for governors that don’t get to come in as often to be able to see how more experienced governors interact with the school
- for governors to monitor the schools key development areas
- for governors to be able to challenge any concerns or queries with the Senior Leadership Team (SLT)
- for governors to get to know our school even more.
The day started at 8.30 with a briefing from the Chair of Governors (Jonny Ross), Headteacher (Steve Clark) and our School improvement advisor (Tim Richards)
Governors were split into 3 groups, each group spent 1 hour with a group of staff related to the SDP and during the rest of the time each group of governors visited a different area of the school going into classes, speaking with children and staff.
Governors were split by Key Stage 1 (KS1), Lower Key Stage 2 (LKS2) & Upper Key Stage 2 (UKS2), and also linked in to either Behaviour, Comms or Teaching & Learning (T&L) (our 3 objectives in our School Development Plan)
The T&L group met up with phase leaders and discussed data, methods being used and got an understanding of strategies implemented.
The comms group met separately with a group of Teaching Assistants (TA’s) and a group of teachers to hear all about internal and external comms in the school, with a big focus on parent engagement and TA/Teacher comms.
The behaviour group met with our school inclusion manager and learning mentors to discuss behaviour in the school, processes, strategies and impact.
The governors debriefed and the groups of governors shared findings with each other, giving the governors a chance to reflect on the mornings activity and decide on the key questions that needed to be asked to the SLT team.
Following this session, the governors met with the SLT team and our SIA to share the findings and ask the key questions.
Summary of findings
All in all, the overriding feeling between governors was that our school felt like a very happy place for children and staff, lessons felt like there were being run really well, and children were extremely articulate about their learning, their objectives and strategies for when they got stuck.
There was consistency between classes rooms, especially with the bronze, silver & gold strategy being used, it looks like a really good system to be using.
In one class governors saw an assessment period from beginning to end, children were totally focussed, engaged and the learning environment felt fantastic.
One of our governors, a secondary school teacher, said she was really happy as a teacher and as a parent at all the things she heard and saw. She was happy about consistency and that children knew about objectives and how to solve problems. It was clear to see that foundations where there.
We noticed the outside space in EY was clean, tidy and clear signage of responsibilities this was very good to see compared to a query we had had previously.
We found that the inclusion and learning mentor team were extremely knowledgeable and have clearly put a lot of strategies in place that also seem to be working.
We questioned how things are dealt with and who deals with them, does it take teachers out of class etc, we heard good strategies in place.
It felt like consistency had been implemented across the school.
Staff told us that parents engagement has increased and we listened to a lot of strategies that have been put into place. There are more opportunities for parents to interact and a very good example of this was staff welcoming children in the playground in the mornings and Friday parent’s assemblies, everyone GB has spoken to has really liked this.
We heard that the “Come dine with me night” over 130 people turned up!
Like a lot of schools, we heard that engagement in KS1 is better than engagement in KS2.
Staff suggested the school explore the use of email, text and other online communication more.
The governors think this is really positive and think the school have done really well with this so far.
Areas we had questions/feelings that came out of the day included:
We wondered about how the school decide on priorities for purchasing class room resources and whether inventories of equipment were carried out and by who.
We had questions around classes with teacher illnesses however it was clear the school was dealing with these situations well.
We wondered what happens with parents who don’t attend parent’s evenings and what if any follow up is made. It was confirmed that all parents are chased and within days or at worse weeks are seen by a teacher.
We asked about the framework for TA’s and how they fit into the the team?
Several other challenges were made to the senior leadership team, and all of the responses given were very good to hear.
Areas for GB development
It was clear to hear that the GB certainly has good visibility in school, with staff and pupils, however we need to develop parent engagement and more so a number of staff were still unsure what our role and value is, so there is work for us as a governing body to do here.
It was one of the first times that TA’s felt that governors were interested in them, we clearly have some development to do on this.
All in all it was an extremely useful and valuable day and really helped us get to know our school far more. We will continue to visit and challenge the school as we have been doing consistently for over 3 years now.