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Governors' news

Mr Chris Eley

May I on behalf of the governing body extend my welcome to Devonshire Primary School.  My name is Chris Eley and I became a member of the governing body in 1999 while our two girls were at Devonshire.  I have been chair of the governing body since 2004 and feel fortunate to be able to work with such a supportive governing body, dedicated school staff and great pupils.

All of the work of the governing body is underpinned by the dedication and excellent work carried out by our Headteacher, Martin Kearsey and Deputy Headteacher, Fiona Oastler. Although our role as governors is to support them, they contribute equally to the work that we do. We support the school in pursuing its key objectives, ensuring the highest standards of teaching and learning are maintained. We also fully support the PSA (parent staff association) which carries out a vital fund-raising role through organising fabulous social events for the school community.

I, along with other governors come into school regularly and attend school social events. Please feel free to talk to us at these times or otherwise contact us via the school office.

Key issues faced and being addressed by the governing body during the year 2014-15.

Post-completion building work matters

Issue

The builders completed the new building work on time so that children and staff could have the benefit of the additional rooms and the entire playground space on the first day of term in September 2014. Chris Eley (chair of governors) continued his active participation in the project, liaising with the builders, architect, the local authority and school staff to ensure that all outstanding issues have been dealt with. Chris reported to the governing body on all issues.

Impact of the governing body

Chris Eley assisted the Headteacher, Bursar and Site manager by proactively dealing with a number of the outstanding issues.

School security for enlarged building

Issue

Chris Eley organised the photos for the security passes for all the school staff. The new security system ensures optimum security for children in the school, a record of visitors to the school and their clearance levels (ie whether they must be accompanied while on the premises) and easy access for staff.

Impact of the governing body

The new security passes show current photos of school staff and other authorised visitors, so enhancing the security of the school.

New arrangements for SEN 2014-5

Issue

The school's policy for special educational needs and disability (SEND) provision is currently being revised in accordance with Department of Health and Department of Education guidance. Charlotte Milner-Watts (parent governor) is meeting regularly with the SEN leader and reporting developments back to the governing body throughout this process.

Reconstitution of the governing body

Issue

The governing body is required to reconstitute by September 2015. Chris Eley (chair of governors) requested governors to complete a self-evaluation. Taking the completed self-evaluation information and his own assessment of governors skills into account, as well as advice from Thelma Kingston (clerk to the governing body) and the views of other governors, Chris has drawn up a proposal for reconstitution in accordance with Department for Education guidance. The changes include changing the number and categories of governors and ensuring that governors' skills are correctly matched to roles within the governing body so that the governing body will be more efficient and effective. Governors will vote on this proposal at their next meeting in March 2015.

Listening to parents and carers

Issue

Joanne Kibbey (LA governor), who has professional expertise in market research had given advice to Martin Kearsey as to how a higher return rate for the parent/carer survey may be obtained.

Key issues faced and addressed by the governing body.

SATs results for KS2 2013

Issue

These results did not show the improvement in results required by the Government for that year. Although the school narrowly missed the Government's targets, the governing body and the senior leadership of the school considered that it was not acceptable for the school to miss these targets. In response, governors significantly increased their oversight of pupil and teacher performance for this year. Chris Eley (chair of governors) and Felicity Alexander (vice-chair and chair of the curriculum committee) held regular meetings with Martin Kearsey and Fiona Oastler to request, discuss and challenge, as appropriate, data relating to pupil attainment and progress for maths, reading and writing and teacher performance that was linked to pupil progress. This data was also reviewed at special meetings of the curriculum committee to which all members of the governing body were invited. Chris and Felicity, together with other key governors (Gill Griffin, David Cooper and Don Brims), attended meetings with the Local Authority to report on progress. Felicity and Gill, with special responsibility for literacy and numeracy, held termly meetings with the relevant subject leaders, to challenge and support those leaders.

Impact of the governing body

The governing body's procedure for oversight of pupil attainment and progress and teacher performance has improved. Governors understand the detailed pupil data provided by Fiona Oastler and understand her analyses about the groups of children that are under-performing, the areas of weaknesses (writing) and the impact of interventions and new initiatives. All governors have a greater knowledge of pupil attainment and progress and teacher performance and are able to hold the Headteacher to account when there is under-performance. All governors are more aware of the importance of the self evaluation statement and the school development plan.

Both the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 SATs results for 2014 showed an improvement from 2013 and the Key Stage 2 results met the Government's higher targets for 2014. Martin Kearsey has received a letter for the Rt Hon David Laws MP (26 January 2015) congratulating him on the improvement since 2011 in the Key Stage 2 (Year 6) results of the school's disadvantaged pupils.

Governors have committed to maintaining their increased level of scrutiny for 2014-15.

Building work

Issue

The school has undergone significant building work over the last few years to replace some of the older classrooms and to accommodate additional classes (taking the school to three form entry in September 2011 and one year of four form entry in September 2012). This work was undertaken in three phases, the final phase being completed in time for the start of the new school year in September 2014. The governing body agreed to the Local Authority's request to expand the school to help with the shortage of school places in Sutton and to use the opportunity to participate in a transformation of the school site.

All the building work has been funded by the Sutton Local Authority, designed by the architect HOCA and built by construction contractors Durtnell. This has ensured a cohesive approach and excellent working relationships.

During this period, Chris Eley (chair of governors), on behalf of the governing body, attended meetings with the builders, architect, the local authority and school staff to ensure that the new building design would be the best design for staff and children and the optimum use of playground space.

Impact of the governing body

Chris Eley assisted the Headteacher, Bursar and Site manager by proactively dealing with a number of issues. His attention to detail meant few unresolved issues when the building work was completed. He kept the governing body informed of progress at all times.

Leadership structure for enlarged school

Issue

In the light of the additional pupils at the school, a new leadership structure introducing two Assistant Headteachers was devised by Martin Kearsey, discussed by members of the Personnel committee and approved by the governing body. The appointment panel (Martin Kearsey, Fiona Oastler and Felicity Alexander (vice-chair and chair of the Personnel committee)) interviewed a strong field of candidates for the post of the first Assistant Headteacher.

Impact of the governing body

The appointment panel unanimously agreed on the appointment of Bethan Scrivens as Assistant Headteacher, Head of Key Stage 2 and with special responsibility for literacy throughout the school. Bethan Scrivens took up her post at the beginning of the Autumn term 2014.

New performance management arrangements for teaching staff

Issue

The Government introduced performance related pay for all teaching staff at schools to commence for awards from September 2014. Felicity Alexander (vice-chair and chair of Personnel) drew up new policies for staff performance management and pay with input from Martin Kearsey and Sophia Barnes (Bursar). The policies were reviewed by members of the Personnel committee and their comments incorporated prior to approval by the governing body. Staff were given an opportunity to comment on the new polices, but no comments were received.

Impact of the governing body

The new performance arrangements were in place on time and the first awards of performance related pay were made by the pay committee (Chris Eley, Felicity Alexander and David Cooper) in November 2014.

Attendance and lateness

Issue

Governors and school leaders were concerned about children missing school through absence and late arrival and the adverse impact on children. The overall target of 95% had just been missed for the previous academic year despite a number of initiatives. The governor with particular responsibility for attendance, Gill Griffin, met termly with the SEN/Inclusion leader and liaised with the headteacher and senior administrator of the school to support new strategies and suggest improvements using her management expertise. Gill Griffin monitored (on an anonymous basis) the progress of children who are persistent absentees or regularly late. She also reported to the curriculum committee of the governing body each term. The governing body supported and approved tight and timely monitoring of poor attendance and late arrivals, close liaison with other agencies and the introduction of Fixed Penalty Notices for unauthorised absence.

Impact of the governing body

The support of the attendance governor has been appreciated by school staff. As a result of all the strategies attendance passed the 95% target for the first time in 2013-14.

Listening to parents and carers

Issue

David Cooper (community governor) collates the results of the schools on the annual parent/carer survey. This information is analysed by governors to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed. Because the numbers of responses for Summer 2013 were lower than previous years, three governors (Felicity Alexander, Gill Griffin and Charlotte Milner-Watts) spoke to many parents at the October parents evening to encourage them to complete the survey at Ofsted Parent View either at home or at the school with a specially arranged log in.

Impact of the governing body

A total of 27 responses for Parent View were obtained, which although disappointing, indicated very positive feed-back from parents.

New behaviour policy

Issue

Sarah Walker, the schools SEN/Inclusion leader, initiated a revised attendance policy. The curriculum committee reviewed this policy and suggested changes. The governing body approved the revised policy. Chris Eley (chair of governors) designed the behaviour ladder accompanying the policy.

Impact of the governing body

A clear behaviour policy is in place that links in with related school policies. All classrooms have a laminated copy of the colourful behaviour ladder and snake to reinforce good behaviour by children.

A-Z club finances

Issue

David Cooper (community governor) assists the A-Z club with their finances, drawing up their budget and accounts. He also assists with general compliance issues. David reports to the governing body on the financial position of the A-Z club.

Impact of the governing body

Without David freely giving his time, the A-Z school club would need to charge much higher fees to cover the cost of an accountant. The governing body relies on David for his termly reports on the financial position of the A-Z club.

School library move for September 2013

Issue

The junior school library was relocated from its own room in the Junior building to a space previously used as a cloakroom to free up space for use as a classroom. Felicity Alexander (vice-chair) and Neeta Gala (parent governor), who together run the library, spent many hours scanning all the books in the library and putting them in crates ready for their move. They then reorganised the books in their new location.

Impact of the governing body

The library re-opened in October 2013. The Junior library is a valuable resource for pupils, but its operation is dependent on volunteers. Without the hard work of Felicity and Neeta, the library would not be open.

From time to time there are vacancies on the governing body for governors. If you are interested in volunteering to become a governor please speak to any member of the governing body who will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Training for new governors is available free of charge.

Governors' pages

Ofsted Graded GOOD

Bronze Sainsbury's School Games Mark

Health schools London award - bronze 2016

Quality Mark Logo 2015

Sustainable travel: The Bronze Award is the first level of STARS accreditation. Achieving this demonstrates that a school encourages and promotes active and safe travel to the whole school community.

Silver award logo 2016

Bronze food for life mark

activemark

Heathy Schools Sutton logo