Governors' News

CHAIR’S REPORT – SPRING TERM 2017

This has been an unusually busy spring term, and the Governors have had a lot to do. In addition to our regular programme of Full Governing Body and committee meetings, there have been two Strategic Visits to the school, one in each half-term, focussing on Modern Foreign Languages and Personal, Social and Health Education in February and an entire session in March on the important topic of how the school engages with parents. These visits are vital in permitting Governors to see the school at work at first hand, to consider individual topics in depth, and to hear directly from groups of staff and students.

On the membership front, there were no changes on the Governing Body, but our two Associate Members, Ben Bennett and Professor Graham Orpwood, were elected full Governors at our end of term meeting. We were also delighted to welcome one new arrival – Bukky Maybank’s new baby, Gbemi, and even more delighted to welcome new mum and baby to our meetings.

I have attended a number of meetings and events as detailed below, but particular mention should be made of the Dance Show and the excellent Sixth Form production of Alice, which gave a new twist to an old tale.

The work of the Governing Body has progressed broadly under the headings in our Forward Work Programme:

 

1. Challenge and support for the Headteacher and the SLT in reviewing and delivering the objectives in the School Improvement Plan and in meeting the performance targets for the year agreed by the FGB.

We continue to support the Senior Leadership Team and their staff as they get to grips with the new Key Stage 4 performance measures of Attainment 8 and Progress 8 prescribed by the Department for Education (DfE). We continue to think these new measures lack the transparency of the grade-related targets used previously. These were easier for students and parents to understand. It is still unclear how the new targets will work out for RPHS and we will continue to monitor and challenge where necessary the interim data on progress produced by the school.

At Key Stage 5, we are heartened by current predictions that our A-level results this year are on track to set new records.  

 

2. Continuing to explore the case for academising RPHS and to bring forward proposals for the future status of the school when appropriate.

We have been encouraged by the London Borough of Merton’s continuing commitment to local authority-maintained schools, now that the Government no longer intend to proceed with enforced academisation. Instead, Merton is encouraging the formation of partnerships between its schools, secondary and primary, and Mrs Heard and I have attended a number of meetings of the School Improvement Steering Group to this end.

We are also concerned about the creation of a new Harris Academy in South Wimbledon and the possible effect this might have on existing schools, particularly in relation to the start-up arrangements which involve the use of the former Adult Education Centre in Whatley Avenue. We have recorded our concerns in responding to the consultation exercise about the opening of the new school.

 

3. Monitoring the agreed budget for 2016/17 to end the year to plan, and to produce draft budgets for the following two years with the aim of reflecting the resources available while maintaining so far as possible the scale and scope of the curriculum.

We continue to monitor closely the budget position, and are encouraged that prompt action by the school seems very likely to result in a much reduced deficit this year. We are aware that our Sixth Form funding has been reduced and this remains a concern for the next two-three years, given that the low Year 7 admission numbers of a few years ago have now fed through to current Sixth Form numbers. We will be considering closely with the Senior Leadership Team the action we need to take on this, and one encouraging initiative is detailed below (section 9).

We are also monitoring how the DfE New Funding Formula will impact on us. DfE figures suggest that the school will benefit and we are pleased that our needs have been recognised. But we are also conscious that schools now face additional financial burdens on teachers’ pension costs and the new Apprenticeship Levy, which will tend to offset the gains.

 

4. Continuing to raise aspiration at all levels and with all pupils across the school.

This remains a key topic for Governors. We welcomed the appointment of our Staff Governor, Mr Mba, to co-ordinate the programme of events for our Gifted and Able students, and we look forward to him driving this with his usual verve and energy. It should sit well beside the existing programme of ensuring our G & A students are especially challenged and supported in the classroom. The university offers that so many of our Key Stage 5 students received in January were very encouraging and a great motivator for them and for students in KS3 and KS4 aspiring to the same levels.

 

5. Continuing to close the gap for Pupil Premium students’ progress and attainment at the school.

This remains another key focus, and Governors were pleased to receive a presentation on the school’s plans for narrowing the gap between the attainment of PP and non-PP students. We will be looking closely at its implementation and monitoring as ever the way the school uses its Pupil Premium budget to enhance the life chances of disadvantaged students.

 

6. Improving literacy levels throughout the school.

Governors are pleased with the progress of this initiative. We took the opportunity of our Strategic Visit in February to see students’ reading time in action and were impressed with the variety of material being read and the quiet diligence with which it was being studied. Well done, Raynes Park High, and keep it up!

 

7. To monitor the effectiveness of the revised House system in maintaining the strong pastoral work of the school.

We are aware that Mrs Heard is to conduct a review of the current arrangements, and we look forward to hearing and considering her conclusions.

 

8. To monitor the development of provision for SEND students.

We are pleased at the changes made to SEND provision, and intend looking at these as part of a Strategic Visit next term.

 

9. Challenge and support for the development of a sports strategy for RPHS.

Governors are happy with the development of the strategy this term. Two initiatives are especially pleasing. First, the emergence of RPHS as the first state school in the country to become a BECS Link Centre. This exciting initiative with an educational charity will enhance the range of sporting opportunities available to our students, using the excellent faculties that we possess. Second, our planned link with Fulham Football Club, which will see a group of their Academy students joining our Sixth Form and raising the school’s profile and hopefully the standard of our football.

 

10. Increasing parental involvement.

We are pleased to see the renaissance of the Parent Teacher Association and the Parents Forum, to which several of our Parent Governors have contributed. We are very appreciative of the work of Assistant Headteacher Ms Lach, and we wish her well as she departs (temporarily!) on maternity leave. On the wider front, we devoted our entire Strategic Visit in March to the issue of parental engagement, which is so important in driving forward students’ prospects. We are very supportive of the school’s work here and are keen to develop this wherever possible.  

      

Michael Ross

March 2017

 

 

CHAIR’S REPORT – AUTUMN TERM 2016

The first term of the school year is invariably a busy one for Governors as we set the direction and tone of our work. At our first Steering Group meeting, we agreed a Forward Work Programme for the year, which as usual is a blueprint for where we intend to concentrate our efforts over the following twelve months.

Once again, I am very happy to record my thanks for the support of our hard-working Governors – in particular Rebecca Costain, our Vice-Chair, and our three committee chairs – Margaret Tulloch, Marina Szanto and Hamish Dowlen. I am equally happy to record our thanks and appreciation of our Headteacher, Kirsten Heard, our Deputy Headteacher, Tyrone Myton, and their Senior Leadership Team, all of whom have supported our work. We have also been equally pleased and impressed by all the other members of staff and by our students, who work so hard to secure success for themselves and for our school.

We were very pleased during the course of the term to welcome three new members to the Governing Body. Christian Mba joined as the Staff Governor in succession to Alex Pull, who left the school for a new appointment in Leeds at the end of last term. Professor Graham Orpwood and Ben Bennett joined us as Associate Members: Associate Members are appointed for the particular skills they can bring to the Governing Body, and in particular to the work of its committees.

During the course of the term, Governors were pleased to staff a stall at the school’s Open Evening, where prospective parents were able to talk to our Parent Governors about the transition of their sons and daughters from Year 6 to Year 7 – a unique perspective that we were able to offer them. Governors also attended the Remembrance Day event at the school on 11 November, as well as the House Plays on 1 December. I was also very pleased to attend the borough’s Celebrating Success evening in November, where our students were represented as Merton celebrated their achievements.

Our work has progressed broadly under the headings in the Forward Work Programme:

 

1. Challenge and support for the Headteacher and the SLT in reviewing and delivering the objectives in the School Improvement Plan and in meeting the performance targets for the year agreed by the FGB.

The Headteacher has been reviewing the three year SIP in the light of the very good progress made in the past year. She gave her conclusions to the September meeting of the Governing Body and presented a draft revised Plan to the December meeting. This inter alia reflected the comments made by Governors. We share the Headteacher’s concerns about the Government’s revised systems for assessing progress and attainment at secondary schools and the issues of transparency that these raise for Governors and parents. We have set new and challenging targets for the school along the lines prescribed and we do not under-estimate the work that will be necessary to meet them. We will continue our dialogue with the Headteacher and the Senior Leadership Team in this first difficult year of their operation.

2. Continuing to explore the case for academising RPHS and to bring forward proposals for the future status of the school when appropriate.

Governors welcomed the Government’s abandonment of forced academisation in their Education Bill. But they consider that this is an option the school needs to consider further, if only in case Government policy reverts to coercion at some point in the future. The Headteacher and I have attended borough-wide meetings with the local authority to explore options, and held a separate meeting with the Assistant Director of Education at which we re-stated our commitment to remaining a local authority maintained community school for the present and set out our wish to continue developing working partnerships with other schools in the borough.

 

3. Monitoring the agreed budget for 2016/17 to end the year to plan, and to produce draft budgets for the following two years with the aim of reflecting the resources available while maintaining so far as possible the scale and scope of the curriculum.

The school has done very well this term in keeping expenditure within budget and we have commended the work that has gone into this. Our Business Committee will continue to monitor the financial position closely, not least because pressures are likely to continue in the next couple of financial years, and the school needs to be prepared for this.

 

4. Continuing to raise aspiration at all levels and with all pupils across the school

Governors have received presentations on the work that is continuing both in the classroom and via new programmes aimed at raising aspiration across target groups. We have welcomed these initiatives and we have challenged the school to do more and to get their initiatives under way quickly. We also met groups of our more able students at a Strategic Visit and discussed with them how this work was of benefit to them personally. We were able to feed back their generally favourable conclusions to the Headteacher.

 

5. Continuing to close the gap for Pupil Premium students’ progress and attainment at the school

Governors were alarmed that the difference between PP and non-PP students had widened in the GCSE results in August. We were pleased to note the steps that the Headteacher has taken to strengthen the school’s work with PP pupils and we discussed and challenged these at a meeting of our Standards & Quality Committee. We will continue to monitor the effectiveness of the school’s programmes in this area.

 

6. Improving literacy levels throughout the school

We have been pleased to note the new drive on improving literacy and the way in which a new emphasis has been given to structured reading in the classroom. It is good that nitiatives are taking place across the full range of subjects, not just English, and that good spelling and grammar are recognised as key tools for pupil achievement.

 

7. To monitor the effectiveness of the revised House system in maintaining the strong pastoral work of the school.

Governors continue to support the very effective pastoral work in the school and the key role that the House system plays in this. We are continuing to monitor its effectiveness in supporting good personal and academic outcomes for our students.

 

8. To monitor the development of provision for SEND students

The necessary reorganisation of our SEND provision has taken place and we note the local authority is pleased with its early results. We are giving the new arrangements time to shake down, and will be looking at their effectiveness next term.

 

9. Challenge and support for the development of a sports strategy for RPHS.

 Governors have welcomed the appointment of the new Director of Sport and the inclusion of so many sporting opportunities in the new enrichment programme. We were disappointed that the continuing poor condition of the sports ground has made it necessary to curtail its use for commercial hire while repair work is carried out, but we are glad that the school is still able to make use of it. We have also been involved in the ongoing development of a football academy at the school in partnership with AFC Wimbledon: two trials have taken place and it is to be hoped that more will be held to get the academy under way. There is a further exciting initiative in prospect to widen sporting opportunities for our students and we hope to be able to make an announcement about this in the near future.

 

10. Increasing parental involvement.

We share the school’s belief in the importance of securing parental engagement in the education of our students. We shared their disappointment at the numbers of parents attending some of the information evenings at the beginning of term. But we were pleased to note the interest and informed questioning of prospective parents at our Open Evening and Open Mornings. We have also been very pleased to note the re-launch of the Parent Teacher Association, whose members have organised another Christmas Fair.

 

Michael Ross

December 2016

 


 

CHAIR’S REPORT – SUMMER TERM 2016

This has been another busy and productive term. As I write, we are approaching the school’s 80th birthday celebrations. I sometimes wonder how RPHS today would have struck our founding Headmaster, John Garrett, and that brilliant coterie of intellectual friends – W H Auden, Rex Warner, Claude Rogers, C Day Lewis, TS Eliot, and Benjamin Britten – that he brought here to speak and sometimes to work as teachers. I like to think they would approve our achievements and our continuing drive to bring out the best in all our students, whatever their talents.

The focus for the Governing Body this term has been on the restructuring programme that should permit us to continue delivering our outturn expenditure within the constraints of a reduced budget. We approved the programme that was brought forward. We have also kept an eye on its implementation and have been pleased to note the restructuring of the Senior Leadership Team, which took place at the beginning of term, and the way our new Assistant Headteachers have settled rapidly into post. Restructuring is never an easy or painless process but feedback from staff is that they understand the issues and appreciate the transparency of the SLT and their willingness to listen to the views of others.

This is of course also the major term for public exams and as recorded below, the Governing Body has been monitoring in particular the progress of Year 11 and Year 13 pupils as they approach their GCSE and A-level examinations. These are the acid test of the school’s progress.

Looking to the future, at the end of the spring term the Governing Body established an Academies Working Group to examine the issues around possible academisation in the light of the Government White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere. This group has begun its research. The Governing Body also hosted a meeting on academisation with a speaker from the Co-operative Schools Trust. This was also attended by members of the Senior Leadership Team and by representatives from the London Borough of Merton, Ricards Lodge and Rutlish Schools.   

On a personal note, I was pleased to attend meetings with our new neighbours, Next Home and Fashion, and our prospective new neighbours, the Bushey Retail Park. Both offer job and work experience opportunities for our students. Their local managers are keen to work with us in the school and to contribute to the learning and experience of our Business Studies students. I also attended the London Borough of Merton’s termly Chairs of Governors briefing, and met with the AFC Wimbledon Foundation to explore the possibility of their establishing an Education Football Programme at RPHS – a potentially exciting part of our strategy for extending sporting opportunities at the school.

On the membership front, we must say goodbye at the end of term to Alex Pull, who has been our Staff Governor for the past year. Sadly, Alex is leaving RPHS for a new job in Leeds. We thank him for his work and welcome Christian Mba, who will take up post as the Staff Governor in September.

The following relates the progress made under each of the headings in the Governors’ Forward Work Programme for the year.

 

  1. Challenge and support for the Headteacher and the SLT in bringing forward a School Improvement  Plan to take the school to Outstanding status.

We have been pleased to see that the implementation of the SIP, approved at the beginning of 2016, has begun. We will continue to monitor progress.

A particular focus this term has been the development of plans for extending sport at RPHS, using our excellent sports ground, the sports hall and the Astroturf. In April, we appointed RPHS’s firstDirector of Sport, who will take up post in September and who will develop sporting opportunities for all our students, whether they have particular sporting talents or not.

 

  1. Challenge and support for the Headteacher and the SLT in meeting the performance targets agreed by the FGB for the school.

The Governors have received regular performance information reports against the targets we set in the autumn. We have been pleased to note the progress towards these targets particularly at Key Stages 4 and 5. We have also been pleased to see the continued progress on non-academic targets such as attendance and behaviour. We have challenged the school to do better in those few areas where we believe our results at GCSE and A-level last year were disappointing.

Governors have continued to gain first-hand knowledge of the school by holding two Strategic Visits this term. The first of these concerned numeracy and literacy, and the way these vital topics are covered throughout the curriculum. The second focussed on assessing the planning and evaluation of school visits and on the all-important question of student attendance, where the school has made very considerable progress over the last four years. On each occasion, we were pleased to see the school in action in classrooms, and – ever a highlight – to talk to groups of students at first-hand.

 

  1. Moving the school towards the use of Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures in line with DfE policy, including the setting of appropriate targets for them.

Governors remain concerned that the new measures introduced by the Department for Education (DfE) will not be readily understood by parents. Nevertheless, we have to live with them and we have included them in our performance targets. We also devoted a section of our April Standards & Quality Committee meeting to Governor training on how the targets are constructed and what they mean.

 

4.  Continuing to close the gap for Pupil Premium students’ progress and attainment at the school

Governors have been pleased to note that the school is continuing to work to close the gap between PP and other students. We have given this particular attention in looking at performance information, and have also sought to ensure that in both planning and evaluating our expenditurePupil Premium funding is spent so as to provide PP students with maximum value for money.

 

5.   Continuing to raise aspiration at all levels and with all pupils across the school

Governors are concerned to maintain the impetus of the Highly Achieving, Highly Skilled programme that was established last year. We also agree strongly with the conclusion of the last Ofsted report that able students, both inside and outside the programme, should be challenged in every lesson. We have pressed the Headteacher and the Senior Leadership Team on this and have been pleased to note their actions and their plans. This is an area we will continue to monitor closely.

 

6.    Monitoring the agreed budget for 2015/16 to end the year to plan and to restructure the school to reflect the resources available in 2016/17 while minimising the effect on the curriculum.

The financial outturn for the year ended the year to plan, and the Business Committee agreed three-year budget plans for taking the school forward.

As outlined above, a major contributor to this was the restructuring exercise, overseen by our Restructuring Committee. We agreed the Headteacher’s proposals and have overseen their implementation. We again commend the work of the Headteacher and the Head of Finance and Resources in tackling the difficult issues and choices involved. We also commend the wider staff in RPHS for their patience and understanding in what is always a difficult exercise.

 

7. Retaining contact with Middle Leaders in order to monitor the impact of change at Departmental level

At both Strategic Visits made this term, Governors have met Middle Leaders. They are always in the front line in making change happen and it is important that Governors hear from them direct. We were pleased to receive from them much positive feedback about the way restructuring has been handled. But Governors are in no doubt about the challenges that staff face, particularly given the constant curriculum changes and other initiatives which the Department for Education is quick to impose but slow to resource. We are grateful to those Middle Leaders who have given up their time to meet us.

 

8. To raise the level of parental involvement in the school

We have been pleased to note the work of the Parent & Carers Forum and the Parents, Teachers & Students Association. Our Parent Governors attend all the meetings of both bodies, and we are discussing with the Headteacher means by which they can be better promoted. We hope further progress can be made on this in the autumn term.

                In ending this report, I must record the thanks and appreciation of all the Governors to Kirsten Heard for her excellent leadership throughout her first year in post. We should also record our similar appreciation to her Senior Leadership Team and to all the staff, teaching and non-teaching, at RPHS. They always go the extra mile for our school and its students. Finally, we must record our appreciation of the students themselves – always inspiring, always amazing, always surprising us in new ways with the talents they show.

 

 

 

Michael Ross

Chair of Governors

July 2016

 


 

 

CHAIR’S REPORT – AUTUMN TERM 2015

 

This has been an extraordinarily busy term, with both its highs and its lows. Even before the term began, our A-level and GCSE results, as noted below, gave us an excellent start , with the GCSE results in particular breaking the school’s records and putting us on a par with other local state secondaries. We were then pleased to welcome formally Kirsten Heard as our new Headteacher. She has made an immediate and favourable impact on the school and has won the respect and affection of staff, parents and pupils.

Almost Kirsten’s first major task was to steer the school through its Section 5 Ofsted inspection.  We emerged with a grading of Good, which, allowing for changes in Ofsted terminology, I think is the first “promotion” that the school has had. Kirsten’s leadership and her immaculate preparation were central to the school’s success, and Governors owe her, the Senior Leadership Team and our other staff a big vote of thanks. Nor must we forget our students, whose progress, attainment and behaviour impressed the Ofsted inspectors. Our school now takes its rightful place as one of the leading schools in Merton, and as detailed below our attention is now centred on making the next step up, to Outstanding status.

But the school is nothing if not a large family, and we were shocked and saddened to learn of the death of one of our Maths teachers, Aimee Dexter, in November, at a tragically young age. Aimee had been a bright and enthusiastic member of staff and her passing has affected the school deeply. We mourn her as one of our own. We were also sad to learn of the death of Kate Rechter, our former Head of Design and Technology.

On a personal level, Kirsten and I have welcomed to the school this term Stephen Hammond MP, Cllr David Chung (the Mayor of Merton), and Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader of the Council. I suspect the attraction was not me but the chance to meet the new Headteacher, and all of them came away paying tribute to the advances that the school has made in recent years and its contribution to borough life. I was also pleased to attend the Former Pupils Society Annual Dinner, the Remembrance Day Service at the school and the Celebrating Merton event at Ursuline school, where as ever our street dance crew were one of the main attractions.

Following the Ofsted outcome, the Governing Body agreed its Forward Work Programme for 2015/16, and progress during the term under each of its eight headings was as follows.

1. Challenge and support for the Headteacher and the Senior Leadership Team in bringing forward a School Improvement Plan to take the school to Outstanding status.

Governors worked with Kirsten and the SLT in preparing themselves for the Ofsted inspection in October. Following our re-grading to Good, we agreed that the School Development Plan and the Ofsted Action Plan needed to be replaced by a Self Evaluation Framework on which a School Improvement Plan could be based. The aim will be to map the way towards Outstanding status, including a timeline for its achievement. A draft Self Evaluation Framework and School Improvement Plan were brought forward to the December FGB meeting for approval.

2. Challenge and support for the Headteacher and the SLT in meeting the performance targets agreed by the FGB for the school.

Governors noted with approval the school’s summer A level and GCSE results, both of which were improvements on the previous year and in the case of GCSE were the only improved results from a state secondary school in the London Borough of Merton. They have set challenging targets for 2015-16 and monitored the first set of performance information for the year. They have noted that the current KPIs may need to be modified in the light of the new SIP (see above); this should not however mean any changes to the targets they have set.

3. Moving the school towards the use of Progress 8 and Attainment 8 measures in line with DfE policy, including the setting of appropriate targets for them.

Governors set their targets for 2015/16 in line with the new DfE requirements, but asked that a target for KS4 performance should also be set in terms of the traditional 5A*-C including English and Maths in order to provide parents and prospective parents with an easily understandable measure and one which would enable ready comparison with the school’s performance in past years.

4. Continuing to close the gap for Pupil Premium students’ progress and attainment at the school               

Governors noted with pleasure the narrowing of the gap evident in this year’s KS4 results. They considered, challenged and approved plans for further progress in 2015/16, including a close scrutiny of planned Pupil Premium expenditure.

5.Continuing to raise aspiration at all levels and with all pupils across the school.      

Governors were anxious to ensure that aspiration remains an important cross-cutting theme at all key stages. They noted comments in the Ofsted report that challenge for able students is not yet sufficiently evident in all lessons and they will be continuing to press for further improvements here. They will also be urging the need to maintain the impetus of the HAHS programme given the personnel leadership changes that will take place in the spring term.

6.Monitoring the agreed budget for 2015/16 to end the year to plan and to restructure the school to reflect the resources available in 2016/17 while minimising the effect on the curriculum.

Governors monitored in-year spend, and attended with school staff monitoring meetings with LBM. They were pleased to note that expenditure remains on course. They formed a Restructuring Committee with appropriate delegated powers to oversee the exercise necessary to keep expenditure in line with the forecast reduced budget in 2016/17, and the committee’s work is now under way.

7.Retaining contact with Middle Leaders in order to monitor the impact of change at Departmental level

Middle Leaders met Governors at both the Strategic Visits undertaken this term. Governors were pleased to learn of their continued enthusiasm for the school and its plans, but noted the concerns MLs expressed about the effect that reduced resources sometimes have on their capacity to run the school to the standard to which we aspire.

8.To raise the level of parental involvement in the school

Governors remain anxious to increase the level of parental involvement. They attended the Open Evening in September in order to talk to the parents of prospective pupils. Parent Governors also regularly attended meetings of the Parent & Carers Forum and the Parents, Teachers and Students Association. We were particularly pleased to note the success of the PTSA’s new venture of a Christmas Fair, which we hope is a foretaste of things to come. Plans are also in place to write to parents with a number of options for increasing their involvement with the school.

Michael Ross

Chair of Governors

December 2015


GOVERNORS' ANNUAL REPORT - 2014/15

Please click here to view the Governors' Annual Report 2014/15


 

CHAIR’S REPORT – SUMMER TERM 2015

The first half of the term was dominated by the appointment process to find a new Headteacher. It was good to have such a large and strong field of applicants, from which the Governing Body was delighted to appoint Mrs Kirsten Heard. She has lost no time in starting to prepare herself for her new role, which she takes up in September. She is already working alongside Phil Wheatley and attending Governors’ meetings. As an Additional Inspector in OfSTED she is in a good position to ready the school for her first challenge, which is to obtain a Good grading when the Inspectors visit, probably at some point in September.

This term we have also said goodbye to four popular colleagues. Neil Jordan has contributed much to the Governing Body, first in the creation of our Sixth Form Centre and latterly as Vice-Chair then Chair of Governors. He was instrumental in training me up when I was his Vice-Chair and this year, in something of a role reversal, he has been Chairman of our Health & Safety, Premises and Safeguarding Committee. Josh McInerney is sadly leaving RPHS, but on promotion. He has been an exemplary Staff Governor, always keeping us in touch with opinion among the staff but always taking the wider view. He was a particular help during the Headteacher selection process, where his expertise was very useful to the panel, of which he was himself a member. We are also losing Ben Nicolas, who retired as a Staff Governor at the July meeting having ably contributed to our work from his experience on the non-teaching side. Lastly, we said goodbye to Ayelet Wellard, whose term of office expired at the end of March; ever colourful, always interesting, we shall miss her contributions to our meetings.

In their places, we have welcomed three new colleagues. Ginny Toubal has joined us as one of our Parent Governors, and with a son in Year 7 we hope she is here for a long innings. Moira McGarr was elected as a Co-Opted Governor in July; she has very extensive HR experience at a senior level, which was revealed as a gap in our expertise in the skills audit we conducted among the Governors in the spring. Finally, Alex Pull, Head of Design Technology and ICT, has joined us as a Staff Governor.  

On the staff front, we say goodbye at the end of term to Phil Wheatley. We are very happy to place on record our deep appreciation of all he has done for the school; put plainly, the school would simply not be where it is today without his tireless and inspirational work. He has turned RPHS around. We will also be losing two of his closest Senior Leadership Team colleagues. Paul Castle has been central to the revival of the House system and the improvements in attendance and behaviour, all of which have provided the basis for our academic success. Louise Buckley has similarly turned around our financial systems and instilled a discipline in our financial affairs that was both welcome and necessary. We record our thanks and best wishes to Phil, Paul and Louise, and to all other members of staff who leave RPHS at the end of this term.

In addition to Kirsten, the Governing Body are very happy to welcome two internal promotions: Tyrone Myton will be the Acting Deputy Headteacher from September in place of Paul Castle, and Helen Gash has taken over Louise’s role in charge of finance, premises and administration.

Progress under the six headings of our Governing Body Work Programme during the term was as follows.

Challenge and support for Phil and the Senior Leadership Team in the drive for Good/ Outstanding status

We continued to provide challenge and support to the SLT in moving towards the targets we set them at the beginning of the year. We have been pleased to note good progress in the regular data reports for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 and for teaching and learning, and for attendance and behaviour. We continue to be concerned about narrowing the gap for Pupil Premium students in the context of rapid improvements across the board, and we were pleased to see the encouraging reports on this. Looking forward to next term, the even higher numbers of Pupil Premium students in next year’s Year7 cohort mean this will continue to be a challenging area.

During the course of the term, the Ofsted Action Plan and the Governors Self Evaluation Framework were further reviewed and updated.

Financial oversight is also one of our statutory functions, and Governors were pleased to note that the school continues to have a balanced budget. The Chair of the Business Committee, Hamish Dowlen, continues to have monthly financial monitoring meetings at the school and also attends the regular monitoring meetings with the London Borough of Merton.

Finally, we had our usual two termly Strategic Visits to observe at first-hand how the school is working . At the first Visit, we majored on the Creative and Performing Arts, and on British Values. At the second, we took the novel step of inviting the students on the school’s Highly Achieving and Highly Skilled (HAHS) programme to devise and lead the Visit for us. Both were as ever illuminating and enjoyable, giving us plenty to think about.

Improved focus for FGB/ Governors’ activities

At our 7 July meeting, the Governing Body reconstituted along the lines it agreed earlier in the year and in line with the new statutory requirements. The new slimmer Governing Body will provide greater opportunities for its members to serve on more than one committee, with advantages in cross-communication and the cross-fertilisation of ideas.

At the same meeting, we considered a paper on our Link Governor arrangements, which also needed review in the light of the smaller reconstituted Governing Body. We agreed to retain the current system, but with some re-brigading of subjects under faculty headings in order to cope with the smaller number of Governors available.

Improved support for Governors

By the end of term, our Vice-Chair, Rebecca Costain will have concluded her excellent work in marshalling school policies and setting up robust systems to ensure they are regularly reviewed and if necessary revised and approved by the appropriate committee and/or by the Governing Body itself. This will represent a significant improvement in the way we work and in the presentation of the policies on the school website, and we are all indebted to Rebecca for this work.

Higher Governing Body profile/ visibility

The Parent Governors continue to maintain a rota to ensure that at least one of them attends each meeting of the Parent & Carers Forum and the Parents, Teachers and Students Association. It was perhaps indicative of enhanced parental engagement with the school that for the first time in recent memory, the election in May for the Parent Governor vacancy was contested.

More co-working with Rutlish and Ricards Governors

The co-working between the three schools on the overpayment of past PFI charges has resulted in the signing of a new Deed of Variation to the Governing Body Agreements between the three Governing Bodies and the London Borough of Merton. This has triggered a very welcome repayment of £100k to RPHS.

More disappointingly, Ricards and Rutlish decided to suspend the 3Rs project which had been looking at the feasibility of better co-working between the three schools. This was pending the appointment of a new Headteacher at RPHS. However, with this process completed, the project is on course to re-commence in September.

Conclusion

It has been a busy year for Governors but much progress has been made. The school’s own data, which we have tested fully and regularly suggests we are on course for our best ever GCSE results, and with excellent Key Stage 3 results and equally good A-level prospects too, we look forward to the autumn term with confidence.

 

Michael Ross

Chair of Governors

July 2015

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RECONSTITUTING THE GOVERNING BODY

The RPHS Governing Body is about to change. New regulations require most state schools to revise the composition of their Governing Bodies from 1 September 2015, and Raynes Park High has already decided how their Governors are going to reconstitute.

The new regulations are aimed at making GBs smaller and more skills-based. The numbers of local authority and staff governors are to be reduced to one in each category, although the numbers of parent and co-opted governors will remain for each GB itself to decide.  

The RPHS Governing Body has decided to slim down from its current 20 members to 14. There will be 5 Parent Governors, 6 Co-opted Governors (chosen for their individual skills and attributes), 1 Staff Governor and 1 Local Authority Governor, plus the Headteacher. Under the regulations, the 5 Parent Governors will be passported from the current GB onto the new body, but decisions on the remaining positions will be taken at the GB’s July meeting.

Michael Ross, Chair of Governors, said:

“The new arrangements provide an opportunity to create a leaner, more focussed Governing Body. At RPHS, we have always tried to ensure that we have the right range of skills on our GB through regular skills audits, and the new system will bring this to the forefront. 

“We have always benefitted from a good team of Governors here, and the slimmer GB should enable us to provide even sharper challenge and support for the Headteacher and his Senior Leadership Team.”

January 2015

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CHAIR’S REPORT – December  2014

We have made good progress with the six components of the Forward Work Programme we approved as a Governing Body in September.

Challenge/support for the Headteacher and the Senior Leadership Team in the drive for Good/Outstanding status

We analysed the summer KS4 and KS5 results and in October set targets for all the year groups. We have had a specific focus on raising aspirations, principally but not entirely through the HAHS scheme, whose revival we welcomed. We placed a similar focus in committee and at one of our Strategic Visits, where we had a session on pupil premium pupils and on the value added by our extra expenditure on initiatives targeted at them. We have had the benefit of groups of middle leaders attending lunches at both our Strategic Visits to give their take on the changes happening in the school. Meanwhile the Pay Committee has examined the impact of the new pay system and will continue to monitor its incentive effects. Last but not least, with Neil Jordan’s help, we have revised and reissued our own Governors SEF.

Looking forward, it is important we widen our perspective. Accordingly, this month we begin a series of visits to schools who have already obtained Outstanding status, both to help shape our own vision of the RPHS we want to see, and to pick up some practical tips. Our first visit is to Glenthorne High in Sutton, which has a very similar demographic to our own.


 Improved focus for Full Governing Body/ Governors’ activities

The December FGB will be considering the paper from the Working Group on Reconstitution proposing a leaner FGB from September 2015, in line with the new regulatory requirements. We are well advanced with this exercise, and hope to submit a revised instrument of Government to the London Borough of Merton in early January. As part of the process, we shall carry out a further audit of Governors’ skills in the spring so that the new FGB can be re-formed with the right spread of expertise. We have also given a new push to the system of Link Governors and conducted two successful Strategic Visits to the school.

Improved support for Governors

Rebecca Costain has done a superb job in reviving and revising both the Know Your School document (including a new supplement devoted to the Sixth Form) and our performance indicators. The aim throughout has been to make data more accessible to busy Governors, most of whom (including me) find the mass of data available confusing at times. Rebecca has also conducted an audit of the school website to ensure both the public areas and the Governors’ area have all the policy documents that regulations prescribe for publication, and that again they are accessible. This has been a very considerable achievement, so again my thanks to Rebecca.

My other votes of thanks go to Phil Wheatley, our Headteacher, with whom it is a pleasure to work.  He has been very receptive to new ideas from a new Chair, and our new three-weekly round-ups have been invaluable in supporting FGB work, improving information flows and proving a good forum for open discussion.  To our Clerk, Susanne Wicks, who has been a model of efficiency and support – calm, resourceful and always ready to go the extra mile. The role of Chair has also been made easier by the three committee chairs, Hamish Dowlen, Marina Szanto and Neil Jordan, a sincere  thank you  to everyone for their hard work and dedication to Raynes Park High School.

Higher FGB profile/ visibility

Governors attended the Open Evening as usual in September in order to talk to prospective parents.  This was the first of a number of initiatives to engage with parents through our own Parent Governors, ably marshalled by Rebecca Costain. These included a rota of PGs, so that we are represented at every Parents & Carers Forum and meeting of the Parents, Teachers & Students Association; and the creation of a new Parent Governors’ e-mailbox, so that both parents and prospective parents can contact us direct.

I have attended as many school events as possible – including Merton’s Celebrating Success event, where the achievements of six of our students were marked, and the Remembrance Assembly, a dignified and moving occasion. I also will be attending the KS4/5 awards evening at the end of term. I was also very happy to attend and speak briefly at the first day of the Staff Development event at the beginning of term.

Finally, we now have a Governors’ news page on the website and a regular column in the RPHS Newsletter, so that the wider RPHS community of staff, students and parents can learn what we are here for and what we do.

More co-working with Rutlish and Ricards Governors

I have continued to work with Governors from Rutlish and Ricards on the vexed issue of future PFI charges. We are slowly working towards a resolution on this which I hope will include a refund to the schools. A benefit of this work has been agreement between the schools to work together in looking more widely at future issues that may affect us corporately, and a first meeting about this was held on 3 December.

Conclusion

It has been a busy and successful term. We have in place many of the building blocks to ensure that both the Governing Body and the school reach Good then Outstanding status. But there still remains much to do. As my 12 year old (Class 8GX) says, “Teamwork makes for Dreamwork!”

Michael Ross, Chair of Governors, December 2014

Please click here for the October 2014 Governors News

 

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