Chairman's Annual Report to Parents Meeting July 1999
You will all be aware as we reach the turn of the century that education does not stand still. Virtually every week we are bombarded by new legislation, new ideas, new policies and new guidelines both from national and local government.
This can lead to teachers and staff being overburdened and confused. The converse argument to this is that it allows us as a governing body to set measurable standards which can be reported to parents.
One thing that is certain is that this deluge will go on and the challenges faced by this and all schools into the new millennium will be no less difficult than those of the past 5 years.
Our governing body is acutely aware of these changes. At the same time we are mindful that our task is to provide the best possible support and education for all the children at OUR school.
To this end the governors and school have come up with a general mission statement which underpins all our beliefs. It is:
"Within a Christian framework the school aims to maximise the potential of all pupils in their studies, recreation and relationships.
It is concerned with the well-being of all teaching and non teaching staff along with parents and pupils.
By promoting Christian values it aims to encourage pupils to make a positive contribution to the local, national, world-wide and church communities."
My own opinion is that where we have mission statements, where we have policies, where we have guidelines and set targets they must be attainable and must be set by consultation between the school, staff and, where necessary, with parents.
We eschew an open form of governing at this school where everyone is encouraged to participate and take part in the education process.
When Tim Strugnell took over as head of the school and I took over as chair of governors we got together to decide on an ethos and a five year programme of re-organisation which would include looking at every aspect of school life.
We are now over two years into that process and I believe the school has taken giant steps forward already and we plan to continue this process into the next decade.
One of our first objectives was to standardise policy procedure and to tighten the nuts and bolts which make this school what it is. This meant looking closely at finances, staffing levels, the fabric and a whole host of other matters.
The Head now draws up an annual management plan which has become our Bible. Various committees ( as you will hear) meet regularly and this is where a considerable amount of work is undertaken. It means that the main governors' meetings now last a maximum of two hours, giving governors the chance to work effectively and freely within the committee system.
One change forced on us by the Government is the re-constitution of the governing body. They are putting more emphasis on parental involvement and from August 31st the governing body will be increased by an additional parent-governor and additional staff (non teaching) governor. I am very pleased to be able to announce that finance administrator Jackie Haynes will be taking up the staff appointment. Jackie has undertaken a tremendous amount of work to ensure that our budget works efficiently and effectively.
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I would like to take just a few minutes explaining changes in the fabric and improvements we are looking to make with buildings at the school.
The design and technology block is in a very dilapidated condition and desperately needs pulling down. We were led to believe by Norfolk LEA that this work would be carried out in the very near future. The plan was to re-site a new block elsewhere in the school grounds and the use the existing area as additional playground space.
Unfortunately finance being finance, we found out a few months ago that money is unlikely to be made available. At that point both the Head and myself, on behalf of the governors, wrote to our MP and county council representatives and this culminated a few weeks ago with a visit from county councillor Allison King. She agrees that the building should be demolished as a top priority and has agreed to take the matter further.
We have been planning this year to improve the Year 5 and Year 7 teaching areas and have set aside finance for this. The work will start shortly to improve facilities for both teachers and children.
In the longer term we are considering moving the school entrance and office to the front of the building and of course a long term project is being looked at to improve swimming facilities at the school.
We also have a regular re-decoration programme.
Governors regularly discuss security at the school. We are very aware of the need to strike a balance between making the school an open and welcoming place, whilst ensuring the safety of staff and children.
We are looking at the balance of car parking and children's play space to ensure that pupils are not put in danger by vehicles using the premises
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One of the major teaching factors of the year has been the introduction of literacy and numeracy hours. Staff have risen magnificently to the challenge. We are very aware of the extra workload that this has brought and we have two governors assigned to help in these areas. Eileen Buckingham has taken on literacy co-ordination and Ann Larner numeracy. The Head always encourages governors to have close contact with staff and governors are encouraged to take an active part in school life.
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Another of our aims over the coming year will be to improve communication between home and school. We are in the process of producing a home/school agreement which we hope most parents will sign up to. This will outline what parents can expect from the school and what the school should be able to expect from parents with regard to matters such as school attendance, homework and other matters.
We will also be looking at the style and content of information coming out from school to parents. We want this information to be informative and jargon free and it is likely in the new school year that the governors will have a section to help inform you of decisions being taken at the school.
We remain committed to keeping staff levels as high as possible, although we have been forced to cut some Special Educational Needs hours this year as the number of SEN children have dropped. Our high teacher staffing levels allow teachers to have "non contact" time in which to follow projects or gain a better understanding of how the school runs.
The governors, in conjunction with the Head and Deputy Head, have also set goals for the school. Once again these goals are achievable and measurable and not just meaningless rhetoric. We are now working on producing a terms of reference document for the governing body.
Over the coming year the school will be looking closely at the assessment of children and financial benchmarking in order to gain the best value for money and cost effectiveness. This will all be done at no cost to the efficient running of the school.
We will be looking closely at how children are assessed in order to improve their overall performance. The Head and his deputy will be closely monitoring education at the school and the children's progress and will be trying to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.
Examples of best practice will be filtered back to staff. In addition there are plans to computerise more of the records at the school.
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I believe that the governors and staff of Hethersett Middle School can work together to ensure that the school's primary aim is achieved. That aim is, once again, to provide the best possible environment and education for every child at the school irrespective of his/her ability.
I also believe that a well motivated staff work enthusiastically and effectively and to me this is absolutely essential to the well being and success of our school.
Incidentally if you wish to read a copy of this report it is available on the school web site, the address of which is in your annual reports.
I would like to finish by expressing my gratitude to all members of staff, to my fellow
governors, to David Mannington and the PTA and everybody else at the school for
making the past year a success.