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Chairman's Report to Parents AGM July 1998


I am delighted to be able to report that Hethersett Middle School has enjoyed an excellent year, which culminated in a glowing report by Her Majesty's Ofsted Inspector at our re-inspection in March.

In this verbal report I would like to reflect on that year, as well as to look forward to the coming 12 months and what we as a governing body hope to achieve over that time.

I believe that the functions of this governing body are three-fold. They are (in no particular order)

  1. To help run the school in as efficient and effective manner as possible.

  2. To support all members of staff in the efficient and effective running of the school.

  3. To help provide an atmosphere within which each individual child can learn, prosper, mature and grow.

Working within these aims the governors are looking at improving the school in a number of ways over the coming months. These include (again in no specific order).

  1. Improving and enhancing the relationship between the school and the church. This is particularly important to us as we are ever mindful of our role as a church school.

  2. Improving the security of the school. We are endeavouring to ensure a balance between being an open and welcoming school and ensuring the safety of both staff and children. In this respect we are looking at the safety aspect of the front playground particularly regarding deliveries to the school and the parking of cars.

  3. Improving and upgrading the swimming pool. This is particularly relevant in light of comments made by parents at last year's annual meeting This item will be covered separately during the evening.

  4. Improving the standard of buildings at the school both inside and outside. I am pleased to be able to announce that the LEA have plans to demolish and replace the DT block in the next financial year.

We believe that we have made great strides forward in many of these areas over the past year and will be continuing throughout the next 12 months.

I hope that you find the new style annual report informative and easy to read. As a governing body we are looking at ways to further improve the flow of information both within and outside the school. This will include looking closely again at the annual report for next year, particularly in the light of government suggestions that schools should have more freedom over what they include in the document.

Hethersett Middle School is not alone in facing many challenges over the next few years. These challenges are both self-induced and government-induced.

The governors are acutely aware of pressure being put on the school's facilities - particularly in the light of possible new development in the village. Pressure is also being placed on us by increased parental choice which means that we can now face a situation where more and more parents from outside our catchment area wish to send their children to our school.

We have an admissions' policy which gives priority to children from our feeder schools - Woodside in Hethersett and Little Melton. We are powerless, however, to refuse children from outside our catchment area if there are places available. This can result in people moving into the village being unable to send their children to the school because we are already "full up" in their particular year group.

We have set, in consultation with the LEA, a limit of 34 children per class (68 per year group). We believe that this is the maximum number that can be accommodated within the best interests both of the children themselves and the teachers.

Over the past year the Head has had to attend a number of appeals by parents who wish to send their children to the school. Sometimes these are parents moving into the village who have not checked prior to their move that the local schools can accommodate them. To put it brutally we have had to fight to keep their children out of the school. That is the harsh reality of the situation. It is a reality neither I, nor my fellow governors are happy about but we feel we must impose a maximum limit for the reasons I have already outlined.

We have written voicing our concern to the LEA, the district council and the Secretary of State for Education. We can see a situation coming, however, where additional development will mean an even greater demand for places. It is our intention to contact any future developers to make them clearly aware of the situation and the possibility that people moving into the village on their developments will not be able to send their children to our school.

WE are also aware that the question of transferring to high schools after Year 6 is being looked at by the county council. This would mean us losing our Year 7 children. We believe this age group bring a great deal to the school and we will fight strenuously to keep our middle school as it is to encompass years four to seven inclusive.

We are also keenly aware of the shifting sands of various governments. Staff here tonight will know only too well about the mind-boggling number of changes there has been to the teaching profession over the past five years. The present government have vowed to cut down on the amount of bureaucracy and paperwork facing teachers. This we applaud and we eagerly wait for it to happen.

You will all know about the new literacy and numeracy hour being introduced and the governors are very mindful of this. I have already mentioned the latest Ofsted report and I'm sure that the Head will refer to this during the evening. The report suggested that the governing body should be focusing on individual pupils - the extremely able as well as those pupils with special needs. We will be looking at ways of doing this over the next 12 months.

I would like to take the opportunity this evening of thanking all the staff for their hard work and sterling efforts throughout the year. It would be wrong to single anybody out as the success of Hethersett Middle School is very much a team effort.

I would, however, like to give our best wishes to Clare Fordham who will be leaving us at the end of the term. Clare is getting married and moving to a new post in Buckingham. I would like to thank her for all that she has done for the school and wish her every success for the future. At the same time I would like to welcome her replacement Tanja Green who will be joining us in September.

I would like to comment on the great number of activities available to pupils out of school hours in the form of various clubs and interests. This speaks volumes for the commitment and enthusiasm of the staff.

I would like to thank my fellow governors for their help and enthusiasm throughout the year. Being a governor today is not an easy task. Today we are given considerable power and responsibilities whether we like it or not. It is up to us to ensure that these are not abused. The governors of Hethersett Middle School work together as a team. Over the past year we have had three new governors - Paul Self, Eileen Buckingham and Ann Larner. I would like to welcome them on your behalf and also to put our public record our thanks to Tony Curson and Derek Barnes who retired as chair and deputy-chair respectively at the end of last year. Both gave many years of service to the school.

Towards the end of the formal business tonight there will be the chance to ask questions of the governors and we will try to give you answers.

I hope that you will all stay at the end of the business to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee which is being kindly provided by the PTA who do so much.

©Peter Steward July 1998

Read the chairman's 1999 report