IMPORTANT: Federation Consultation Update
The educational world is changing at a rapid rate. The academy agenda is still driving forward and there's decreasing reliance on local authorities for school improvement support. Collaborative school-led improvement is the future and standalone Primary Schools will become a thing of the past.
For our school, we believe building local collaborations is the way forward in this climate and we want to lead the way. We've already forged some excellent external links that have helped us in recent years. Mr Crawford's role has a School Improvement Adviser has bought in a wealth of connections, ideas and up to date information, we've worked closely with cluster schools on joint INSET training and our talented staff team have been in involved in conferences and initiatives across the county.
As part of our shared vision, we've expressed an ambition to federate with another school. A few opportunities have been pursued by governors and earlier this year one opportunity (bought to our attention by the local authority) has emerged as a favourable option and one worth consulting further on.
What is a federation?
A federation is a formal collaboration between two or more schools that involves sharing one governing board and usually one executive headteacher. Under this structure, the board and executive headteacher act in the best interests of pupils across both schools.
Why should we consider federating?
Firstly and mostly importantly to raise educational standards. An Ofsted published report in 2011 demonstrated that federated schools report significant improvements in standards and attainment.
Federation provides wider opportunities for pupils, including shared work and projects across the two schools. It allows schools to share resources, specialist skills and enjoy greater flexibility.
It also provides wider opportunities for staff and contributes to attracting and keeping talented teachers and support staff. A larger school structure means important leadership skills can be developed and leaders for the future can be grown.
It brings financial benefits from greater purchasing power and the opportunity to share resources, along with helping to build strong links between communities.
Why Kilburn Junior School?
From early visits to Kilburn, it is clear that the schools share a similar ethos and both schools are in a strong position. The size and make up of the school is a good fit. Both schools have impressive sites with huge potential for joint projects. Kilburn is local, just a short car journey away.
Finally, both schools are approaching this possibility for the right reasons, to take the sum of the parts and create collaborative working for the betterment of pupils across both schools. Ultimately, the biggest impact on our children comes from the excellent practitioners we retain and develop. This partnership, allows the opportunity for us to become a wider, richer 'hub' for outstanding teaching and learning.
What's happened so far?
There has been a flurry of 'getting to know each other' activity over the last 6 weeks or so. There have been staff visits to each school and a joint whole staff meeting to explore ideas and opportunities alongside concerns and questions about the change.
A working party of governors has been established. This is made up of myself, Louise Rowland (Kilburn Chair of Governors), Nick Barnes and Nicola Hardy from Kilburn and Rachel Watson and John White from the Smalley governing board. This group has liaised closely with the local authority and Senior School Improvement Adviser, Sue Potter, for support and advice.
We also held open parents meetings at Kilburn and Smalley last Thursday, 7 July. We had 33 parents visit the Kilburn meeting and 6 at Smalley. Both meetings were an opportunity to air and share frank views on the changes proposed. The senior leaders across both schools also shared their personal reasons for wanting to pursue a federation. We also answered all the questions that were sent in by parents across both schools.
We will continue working together as part of informal consultation, prioritising shared opportunities for pupils and staff. The formal consultation will begin in September and last for 6 weeks. For this stage, the working party will produce a proposal for both governing boards to review and decide on. Throughout the formal consultation it is vital that all stakeholders make their views known so that a clear and informed decision can be made. If both governing boards approve the proposal, then one new governing board will be established and we hope the federation to begin in January 2017.
If you have any comments, suggestions or questions about the this significant change for your school, please get in touch. Contact Mr Crawford at school, or myself by email - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks to all those parents, staff, governors and other local authority colleagues who have contributed to discussions so far.
Up on the roof!
I had the pleasure of going on top of our Key Stage 1 roof earlier in the week.
As many of you know we are in the middle of another big project funded by Derbyshire County Council which is costing £100,000!
The scaffolding will be up for another 4/5 weeks at least due to some poor weather but it will all be worth it when we have a beautiful new roof and new soffits and fascias.
The new sky lights are now in as you can see from the pictures.
NLG Life, November 2015: A trip to the NEC
In our role as governors we feel it's very important to be up to speed on the wider developments within education. This mission took myself, Mrs Hudson (our Clerk to Governors), Mr White (Co-opted Governor) and Mr Crawford to the Academies Show at the NEC yesterday. Here we heard from a wide range of leaders in education, including Lord Nash from the government Department for Education, David Cameron (not the PM!), a prominent commentator on education, union leaders, the National Schools Commissioner and Hanif Qadir, a powerful speaker on the threat of radicalisation in our schools. The themes of the day included:
- Collaboration with other schools in the school-led improvement system continues to be vital
- We all face a recruitment and retention crisis so we must 'build from the inside' our own talented teaching staff and school leaders
- Multi-academy trusts are the direction of travel from the governments perspective
- The battle of a 'skills or knowledge' based curriculum is pointless - it's a matter of balance and getting it right for every child
- We've fantastic practice in the UK - there's no need for 'educational tourism'
We also took the chance to speak to suppliers and find out about the latest innovations in education and Mr Crawford, as ever, won the prize for most/best freebies!
All in all, we recognise the need to build from our strong base of collaborative activity to forge closer links with other schools and to secure a successful future for our school in this challenging, yet exciting landscape.
Get in touch if you'd like to discuss further - email@example.com
NLG Life - October 2015
'National Leader of Governance' is a rather grand-sounding title for a 'helping out' kind of role. There are currently 5 NLGs across Derbyshire and our task is to support other Chairs of Governors and governing bodies to help them improve their performance. NLG time is offered by volunteers and with a supportive, non-judgmental approach. We are here to help and not assess! In the current climate the emphasis is very much on working school-to-school in a collaborative way to learn and develop. It certainly fits with our community-based ethos. It also gives us the chance to share best practice and learn from others.
This past week, my NLG life has involved helping two governing bodies at Derbyshire primary schools feel prepared and ready for an Ofsted visit. This involves looking at the criteria that is applied to the leadership and management of the school and being prepared to talk through the good evidence that the school has to support fulfilling this criteria. In broad terms, Ofsted are looking to ensure that governors:
- Set the vision, ethos and strategy for the school (evidence of ambition and a future focus)
- Hold school leaders accountable for the school's performance (evidence of support and challenge, monitoring activity and performance management)
- Spend the school's finances well (evidence of good budget management and spending linked to learning needs)
In the challenging and often complex role of governance it is helpful to simplify our purpose to these 3 core activities and remember, as governors, this is what we are here to do.
As we showed one local Chair of Governors around our school today for some shared learning, Mrs Mason made us smile by pointing out that our children even quote back our school vision to Mr Crawford in their writing. It's so embedded in our approach, that they comfortably remind him that we 'aim to be an outstanding school in the heart of the community'. It's good to know the message has stuck!
Governors get set for the year ahead
We enjoyed a full and busy governing body meeting last night with our committed and enthusiastic team. The September meeting is much like an 'Annual General Meeting' and involves getting the administration of governance sorted and also looking ahead to the strategic goals and objectives that will drive the school forward. It's our role to support and challenge the school to help ensure the objectives are met. We had the pleasure of being joined by Mrs Domkowicz last night who will be a key link for governors on some of the teaching and learning goals for the year, it was helpful to discuss plans at this early stage in the school year. We look forward to keeping you updated on governance activity in the coming months.
For more information on governance see www.derbyshire.gov.uk
Governors get creative with iPads!
One of our roles as governors is to ensure the schools finances are wisely spent in the best interests of teaching and learning.
At our meeting and 'mock lesson' this week, we experienced first-hand how our iPads enhance literacy learning.
Mr Crawford read us a story 'The Day the Crayons Quit' and we worked together to produce a piece of creative writing and an accompanying animated video.
It was very worthwhile to immerse ourselves in the difference the iPads have made in enabling our teachers to deliver highly effective and creative lessons. Good fun too!