Chair's Report - Autumn 2018
The Autumn term is always an exciting time as each year group settles into its new place.
The Autumn term is always an exciting time as each year group settles into its new place. This term in particular we have been graced by a much larger Year 7, which has expanded to accommodate the rising demand for places at RPHS. It is lovely to see their energy and the fresh perspectives they bring to the school.
The Governing Body has had its planned programme of meetings throughout the term. In addition, we held two Strategic Visits. The first focussed on the school’s pastoral work and its development of the Leaning for Life initiative, including Relationships & Sex Education; while the second centred on our Year 7 and how they are settling in to the challenges of secondary education. We were very pleased with the work we saw in both Visits, both in the presentations by staff and in what we observed in our Learning Walks around classes and in discussing their progress with students themselves.
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. Governors also attended the annual Remembrance Assembly at the school in November, and look forward to seeing the school in the community at the Raynes Park Christmas Festival. I have been pleased to attend our Sports Awards evening at Fulham FC (Craven Cottage), the Former Pupils Society dinner and a meeting with Siobhain McDonagh MP.
In terms of membership, we have had a period of stability this term. But we were sorry to say goodbye to two of our members: Terry Fairs, who resigned as a Parent Governor following a period of continuing ill-health; and Gill Crowe, who left as our Staff Governor, following her assumption of an additional role in the school as a Lead Practitioner – a further recognition of her teaching skills. We wish both Terry and Gill well in their future work.
Progress this term falls under the headings agreed by Governors in our Forward Work Programme for 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.
Governors have reviewed and approved the new SIP, which has links to our Forward Work Programme. Governors looked at and challenged KS4 and 5 outcomes last year and set targets (including KS3) for 2018/19. They are now scrutinising progress and holding the Headteacher and her SLT to account for their delivery.
RPHS was due for its three-yearly OFSTED inspection in October, but this did not materialise. It is not at all clear when this inspection will take place, but our working group has reviewed preparations with the Headteacher and her Deputies and are confident that the school is ready when the Inspectors do appear.
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 continue to monitor spend and have noted additional pressures on the budget and have agreed on ways these can be countered. They are particularly concerned at Government cuts to SEN and Sixth Form funding, while lagged funding for the additional numbers in Year 7 is also an issue for the school. The Chairman of the Business Committee has regular monthly meetings with the school’s Director of Finance.
Governors have also reviewed the rolling three-year budget agreed in June and consider that the school will not run into deficit either in the current year or in 2019/20. It is difficult to predict firmly beyond this date, given there may be further changes nationally in funding, but providing our recruitment levels at Year 7 can be sustained, and if possible increased at Sixth Form level, we see no cause for alarm.#
3. Continuing the drive to improve teaching and learning outcomes in the school.
Governors are fully supportive of the Headteacher’s programme for further improving teaching and learning in the school, and are pleased to note the progress that has been made.
A particular focus for our questioning continues to be the application of consistent standards in book marking, and again we were pleased to note the steps taken to improve matters. While the success of what the school is doing will ultimately be measured by student outcomes, our targets and performance indicators have proved helpful as milestones.
4. Continuing to raise aspiration at all levels and with all pupils across the school.
We remain committed to raising levels of aspiration throughout the school. A particular focus has been the treatment of our more able students, both in the classroom and in the programmes designed for them. We need constantly to give them the stretch and challenge they need so that they aspire to be the best that they can be. We have offered our own challenge on this point and we welcomed the appointment of a new team charged with looking after more able students’ interests, and note the regular special lessons that they are receiving at Key Stage 3.
5. Continuing to close the gap for Pupil Premium students’ progress and attainment at the school.
We were pleased to note the progress that the school continues to make in narrowing the gap between our Pupil Premium and our non-Pupil Premium students. We monitor this regularly through our performance indicators, and our Standards & Quality Committee considered a report on the topic this term and questioned staff on it. The high numbers of PP students in our Year 7 will pose a particular challenge. We are satisfied that the school has in place a programme for tackling the issue and securing good value for money in spending our Pupil Premium budget.
6. Maintain our reputation for excellent Safeguarding and for maintaining the welfare of our students.
The school has a strong record on Safeguarding which is recognised by the local authority. We have a Safeguarding Governor who reports regularly to Governors. The school has in place robust procedures for tackling Safeguarding so that issues are picked up quickly and dealt with effectively, and this is supported by a programme of training for all those working in the school, including Governors.
We will continue to scrutinise the position closely, acknowledging the links to the school’s pastoral work which can help in taking preventative measures in some cases through early intervention.
7. Challenge and support for the development of a sports strategy for RPHS.
Governors have been very pleased to note a number of significant advances in the development of this important strand of the school’s offer.
The completion of our new £0.5m water-based hockey pitch, funded by Wimbledon Hockey Club, has been very welcome. It is great that the pitch is now in use for lessons. Our partnership with WHC is a strong one, and Governors have been pleased to play a part in developing it.
Equally, it has been very good to see the links with our Premier League partners, Fulham FC, strengthen further, with 50 of their Academy members now attending our Sixth Form, where they do themselves and their club great credit. It was particularly gratifying that our Sports Awards evening was held at Craven Cottage, offering students and their parents the sort of vision to which the school’s sportsmen and women can aspire.
The increasing number of sports now being played at the school and the growing success of our teams is a great testimony to our Director of Sport, Chris Wilson-Boyle, and his staff, and to the vision of the Headteacher in initiating this part of the school’s overall strategy.
8. The marketing of RPHS.
Competition among schools for students is growing, which makes the marketing of RPHS an important part of our work, in which Governors have taken a special interest.
Outreach work in local primary schools by staff and a re-designed website were central to our marketing strategy. It was very good to see the success of this in the September Year 7 recruitment figures, which showed a 34% increase over the previous year. Many of these came from schools in Kingston and Wandsworth, which were a focus of our outreach work in the preceding twelve months. First figures for the likely September 2019 show that we should maintain our numbers, and our spread of schools, which is very encouraging and testimony to the school’s achievements and growing reputation.
9. Increasing parental involvement.
We continue to support the school’s efforts to increase parental engagement, both in relation to their own children and more generally. It was disappointing to note that the last election for a Parent Governor failed to elicit any nominations, but we will appeal for these again in the new year, when we hope some of our new Year 7 parents in particular will feel sufficiently engaged with the school to put their names forward.
10. Improving the school’s profile within the community.
As Governors living in the community, we are aware of the school’s good reputation. We are strongly committed to the school maintaining its place at the heart of Raynes Park, and we support events like our participation in the Raynes Park Christmas Festival, where we can showcase the talents of our students for local residents.