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Chairman's Annual Report to Parents' Meeting - July 2001

My report this year will reflect on three interesting terms which have not been without their problems.

Whilst the school continues to move forward there are a number of areas which have been of concern to the governors. I must start by saying that none of the problems have been caused by the school itself.

I have to say that the communication from the Local Education Authority has been sporadic and at time confusing to say the least.

This has certainly been the case with regards to the swimming pool. We were led to believe that a substantial six figure grant would be forthcoming to allow us to upgrade and improve the pool which is used by the community as well as the school.

Plans were already well advanced to inform groups using the pool of the impending work when we were told that no money existed and the work would not be carried out. Despite meetings with officials at county hall this position did not change until drastic measures were taken.

Acting Head Richard Carter closed the pool on the grounds of serious health and safety concerns following problems with chlorine and complaints from members of staff. This action had the full backing of the governing body.

The action resulted in county hall relenting somewhat and agreeing that certain remedial measures should be undertaken. These will fall far short of our aims but will ensure that the pool is re-opened. We are at present negotiating with county hall for the re-imbursement of money lost through lettings.

We will continue to fight for improvements to the swimming pool and I would ask for parents who are concerned with the situation to contact their county councillor Alison King and county hall to express their concern.

We have at least met with some success in our 20 year attempt to have the antiquated Design and Technology block replaced. County have finally come forward with 90,000 for this work although it is unlikely to take place until September 2002. So I suppose that is a case of cautious optimism.

On a personal note I have to say I am bitterly disappointed at the lack of action at times from the LEA. It is disappointing for staff and governors who work so hard for the school.

I feel that education in Norfolk can never really move forward until such time as the LEA recognise that funding and support is needed by achieving schools as well as failing ones.

Nobody denies the need to spend money and set up Education Action Zones in the more depressed areas, but schools such as Hethersett also deserve their share of the financial cake. In other words excellence should be celebrated and not avoided.

Which brings me onto the next issue - school numbers. County use the word "capacity level" and the phrase seems to have absolutely no meaning. At 272 our school is said to be full and indeed beyond its capacity. With more and more children coming through, our numbers over the next few years are likely to spiral towards 300 - something future forecasts a few years ago did not suggest. This provides a dilemma for the school. With the additional pupils coming from our catchment area we are duty bound to find places for them. Indeed this is something we are keen to do. It does, however, mean that resources will be strained.

In concrete terms it means that there will be three year four classes next year and a mobile will be in place for September. This also means that the school has appointed an additional teacher.

One of the great successes of the school over the past two years has been the establishment of a fully functional and resourced computer suite which I know is the envy of many schools. I know that the suite is appreciated by staff and pupils alike.

I would like to take the opportunity to say goodbye on your behalf to a number of staff who will be leaving us at the end of this term.

Sharon Gilhooly has been appointed deputy head at Acle. We will be very sorry to lose Sharon who has done an excellent job as acting deputy head this year.

Nicky Peters is moving from the area and will be taking up a position in Cambridgeshire. We wish her well, particularly with the cooking (in joke referring to her appearance on Ready, Steady Cook) and Ann Wood has decided to leave the school. I would like to thank Ann for all the time and effort she has put in at the school over many years. In addition Tanya Green is taking a year out from teaching to travel to New Zealand. The governors have agreed to keep her job open for her to return to in a year's time.

This means that we will be welcoming six new members of staff in September. Two of them are already well known faces. Angela Sweet will be joining on a permanent basis and Marian Watt will be re-joining the staff as art co-ordinator. Neil Topliss will be joining as maths co-ordinator and we will also be welcoming Sheila Greenacre, Victoria Ward and Sarah Parker. We wish them all a happy stay at Hethersett Middle School.

I must also point out that head Tim Strugnell will be returning to us in September after his year with the LEA advisory service. Richard Carter, who has worked so hard for the school as acting head over the past year, will be reverting to deputy. I would like to put on record the governors appreciation of Richard's efforts over the year. I know that Tim sees himself as the seventh new boy come September.

Very shortly we will be putting a close circuit television system into place around the school in order to improve security.

It is always difficult to strike a balance between being open and welcoming and making sure that staff and children are safe. We encourage parents, friends etc to visit our school and feel that the CCTV system will allow them to support the school and feel safe at the same time.

I would like to finish this report by thanking my fellow governors for all their hard work over the past year. Their professionalism and enthusiasm is first class. Sadly we will be saying goodbye to two very valued governors over the summer.

Lynne Middlemiss and Eileen Buckingham have both decided to retire. We are hopeful that Rob Boothby will be replacing Eileen as an LEA appointed governor. We are waiting ratification of this from county hall. This means that we still have one vacancy for a co-opted governor.

This position is at the discretion of the governing body and we are looking for somebody with skills in the field of either human resources, sponsorship or law. If you fit that bill or know of anybody who does and would like to join us please speak to any governor tonight or contact the school.

Finally once again our thanks to the parent-teacher association for all the work and enjoyment they have brought to the school. Anyone who has attended the November Craft Fair and the summer fete will know exactly what I mean.

Special thanks go to chairman Dave Manington who is retiring at the end of the school year.

©Peter Steward - Chair of Governors July 2001.