Chair's Report - Autumn 2019
As the new Chair of Governors, I found myself probably as excited as the new Year 7 intake, which this year rose to a new all-time high of 229 pupils, an astonishing endorsement of the demand and popularity of RPHS in the area.
The Governing Body holds a planned programme of seven meetings throughout the term. In addition, we held two Strategic Visits. The first visit explored the school’s Sixth Form and Creative Arts departments, featuring music, drama, art & photography and dance, although unfortunately, with time constraints, we were unable to visit any dance classes. Meeting with a number of sixth formers, they were lucid and clear in their views, offering concise opinions on many aspects of sixth form life.
The Creative Arts pupils showed a high level of commitment in all lessons and all the students seemed quite captivated with the study subjects.
The second visit focused on years 10 and 11 and explored maths and science classes in Year 10 and English classes in Year 11. We were interested as governors to see the progress of these two years, as they moved towards potential sixth form attendance. We were very pleased with the work we saw on these Visits, both in the presentations by staff, in what we observed in our Learning Walks around classes and in discussing the students positive attitude towards the school in general.
Governors were also pleased to attend the school’s Open Evening, where we staffed a stall and were able to talk – some of us as parents – to prospective RPHS parents and their children – there were almost 700 parents and children in attendance: subsequently we were also present at the Sixth Form Evening – equally well attended and it was also good to see and hear our own sixth formers speaking so eloquently and using their persuasive powers to recommend the sixth form to years 10 and 11 and other visiting students.
Governors also attended the annual Remembrance Assembly at the school on 11 November and, notwithstanding the gravity of the occasion, we were most impressed by the school choir of some forty pupils, giving a performance of the school song written specially for the school by the poet W H Auden. Additionally, I was pleased to attend our Sports Awards evening at Fulham FC’s football stadium at Craven Cottage and I was also privileged to be a guest at the Former Pupils Society annual dinner.
I am looking forward to seeing the school’s choir entertaining the community at the Raynes Park Christmas Festival and at the joint Fulham Football Club/RPHS carol concert at All Saints Church, close to Fulham’s ground.
In terms of membership of the Full Governing Body, we have had a few changes from the beginning of the Autumn Term. We say goodbye to Kara Thwaites as a parent governor and to a co-opted governor, Bukky Maybank, who had offered invaluable help to the school during its extended negotiations with the Wimbledon Hockey Club. We have two new governors: Lise Charmillot joins us a co-opted governor and with her banking background will be an asset to our financial needs. Also joining us as a parent governor is Maxine Ovens and she is already taking an active part in the work of the Governing Body.
Progress this term falls under the headings agreed by Governors in our Forward Work Programme at the beginning of the year.
1. Challenge and support for the Headteacher and the SLT in putting a new School Improvement Plan in
place; in delivering its objectives; and in meeting the performance targets for the year agreed by the FGB.
The Headteacher (“HT”) has now put in place a new School Improvement Plan (“SIP”) that considers the
recommendations and comments mentioned in our positive Ofsted report: it also incorporates the Governors Forward Work Programme. The school has a new link at Fulham Football Club, although this year’s intake is lower than hoped. The HT advised that in future, Year 10 students will also be targeted for Sixth Form entry, rather than waiting until Year 11.
In pursuing access to our £29,000 Apprenticeship Levy, the HT confirmed that Merton had procured the
services of the National College and that a member of school staff is already undertaking a Masters degree.
2 Monitoring the agreed budget for 2018/19 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.
Governors have monitored school expenditure very closely and were pleased to note that currently, the
school continues to operate without a deficit: many schools struggle with deficit budgets and this is a great
tribute to the tight control our Finance team have exercised over expenditure. In recent years, RPHS has
constantly brought its budget in on target and has responsibly planned its budgets for future years, approved by the Governors.
There is no doubt that the increased demand for places at RPHS will put a strain on our finances, because of the much-rehearsed disadvantages posed by the Department of Education’s policy of lagged funding;
however, with continued prudent management and the first tranche of lagged funding from last year’s
increased intake now being paid, we hope to remain in surplus, without affecting the quality of student
education. We need to explore other means to raise income levels, whilst limiting outgoings, ideally without restricting the school’s creative plans to improve what we offer to students.
3 Continuing the drive to improve teaching and learning outcomes in the school.
RPHS has an excellent, highly qualified team of teachers and always seeks to employ the best in the
profession. In the last four years, the school has striven to maintain and continually improve the quality of
teaching in the classroom, which includes continuous professional development. These initiatives are
constantly monitored and continual efforts applied to offer challenge where necessary. As per the splendid
efforts applied last year, during Governors’ Strategic Visits, we will continue to address the quality and
consistency of book marking.
4 Continuing to raise aspiration at all levels and with all pupils across the school.
This remains an area of high priority for Governors. RPHS has a good record in developing students with low attainment at KS2 and we continue to encourage high aspiration levels among all students, especially for those gifted or talented, not just in the classroom but also in external educational or sporting activity. I
would like to remind all Governors of the comments made in the recent 2019 OFSTED report, which stated that RPHS had applied strategies to support disadvantaged students and action to ensure that students “including the most able, are motivated and engaged by the challenge they need to make the progress of which they are capable.”
5 Closing the gap for Pupil Premium students’ progress and attainment at the school.
Governors have ensured that we concentrate our efforts to narrow any gap in performance from our Pupil
Premium pupils. Closely examining the 2019 A level and GCSE results has allowed the school to plan the
necessary strategies to solve any perceived disparity between PP and non-PP students and to ensure that PP money is used most effectively.
6 Maintain the school’s deserved reputation for excellent Safeguarding and for maintaining student
RPHS offers an exceptionally high standard of Safeguarding and the Governors must strenuously ensure that the school’s emphasis on providing its high level of care is upheld. As Governors, we must also undertake training on Safeguarding issues. The school’s reputation for addressing student welfare is well-known and deserved and the FGB continues to support this positive approach, which is much appreciated by the students and their families. The Headteacher continues to provide constructive initiatives on students’ mental health issues.
7 Continuing support for the development of a sports strategy for RPHS.
We are pleased that the Sports Strategy continues to be rolled out with high participation levels among
students: we have enjoyed great success as Borough champions in U13 and U16 table tennis, Years 9 and 10 girls cricket and Year 7 boys indoor athletics.
Specific areas of interest include the benefits offered by the BECS Link initiative, improvement to the three tennis courts, the established link with football Championship partners, Fulham FC and the school’s latest relationship with the Wimbledon Hockey Club. We are optimistic (weather permitting!) that the formal launch of our new Astroturf pitch will take place, with a celebrity match organised by our partners in Wimbledon Hockey Club later in the school year. Governors are also pleased with the uptake of hockey
among our students as a result of our WHC partnership adding to the school’s sporting offer to its students.
8 The marketing of RPHS.
We have moved into the second year of our Marketing Plan and it has been disappointing that, in spite of
advertising the post on a number of occasions, we have been unable to appoint a new Marketing Officer. We are hoping the school will have better fortune in the future, perhaps by offering the post on a part-time basis. The RPHS marketing plan is an essential factor that influences future school recruitment and ideally enhances the RPHS profile within the local communities in Merton, Kingston and Wandsworth (two of our top three feeder primary schools are now in Kingston). Governors should continue to assess and monitor the success of the Plan and its implementation by the school.
9 Increasing parental involvement.
We fully support the school’s work in encouraging increased parental engagement and we are pleased to see Year 7 parents becoming involved in supporting the school’s activities. We now have four excellent Parent Governors, with only one space remaining, and applications for this vacancy will be circulated early in 2020.
10 Access Centre
The school’s Access Centre has proved so successful that it has received an Autism Accreditation Award from the National Autistic Society. To quote from their committee’s evidence, they stated that the Centre has provided “personalised educational and therapeutic support, rooted in an understanding of the strengths and challenges of each autistic student. The Access Centre provides a calm and safe space for students to work, relax and gain confidence”. As Governors, we must continue to offer support and encouragement to all the centre’s staff.
11 Improving the school’s profile within the community.
The school must retain and strengthen its appeal within the local community and the RPHS choir will be
participating in two local carol concerts. Hopefully, the school continues to enjoy a good reputation locally
and it is important that students’ behaviour in the area (and our involvement in local community events)
supports this. We should continue to seek opportunities that will strengthen the school’s local appeal.