Chair of Governor’s Annual Report 2020-21
The Governing Board of Epinay School, which has been an outstanding school for 3 consecutive Ofsted inspections 2010, 2012, and 2018, is responsible for ensuring that pupils progress appropriately in a well-managed, stimulating, and safe learning environment and setting the strategic direction for school leaders and the school community.
In accordance with the Government’s requirement for all boards of governors, the three core strategic functions of Epinay School’s board are:
- ensuring clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
- holding the headteacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils.
- overseeing the financial performance of the school and making sure its money is well spent.
Governors know that for this to happen effectively pupils must be supported by a well-led, enthusiastic, professional, and motivated staff team working together within a safe, engaging, and supportive environment.
The Board is made up of chair, vicechair, headteacher, 3 parent governors, 1 local authority governor, 2 staff governors and 3 co-opted governors.
The full governing board meets three times per year, discussing and debating a whole range of strategic items. We have separate meetings covering finance and staffing. We have the skills needed to contribute to the effective governance and success of the school. On our board the co-opted members come from a range of backgrounds, including finance and private business management.
Each governor holds a designated responsibility and will act on behalf of the full governing board where appropriate. An important role for governors is ensuring the safety and well-being of the children and we have a nominated governor for safeguarding, who reports to the wider board on any safeguarding matters.
We have 185 children on roll and cater for children aged 5-18 with varying SEND needs.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the governors have worked closely with school leaders to ensure all risk assessments, procedures and guidelines have been closely followed. We have offered advice to school leaders, communicating via remote Zoom meetings. We have ensured contact has still been maintained via regular updates from the senior leadership team. We were able to contribute to the writing, implementation and monitoring of the whole school risk assessment, which was used by the local authority as a benchmark for other schools to follow. Our remote learning was crafted to ensure all children were able to access our learning provision; we stayed open at all times. We spent quality time on curriculum development and implemented online training where necessary. One National Union rewarded our work via remote learning with a £500 voucher for looking after staff wellbeing.
We are in the middle of relocating the school to a new site in South Shields, which will enable our pupils to further enrich their educational opportunities in larger premises. The work undertaken so far has been vast and very well received by parents, pupils, stakeholders, and the LEA.
The governors were mindful of the emotional wellbeing of the headteacher, school leaders and all staff and have offered our support throughout this difficult time, especially in light of the school being fully open throughout the pandemic to children from various groups, including key workers and vulnerable pupils. The school are coming off the back of winning team of the year in south Tyneside, we very much hope to keep the collectiveness and wellbeing of the staff team at the forefront of our minds.
Our governors follow all NGA Guidance and regularly keep up to date with any changes, reviews, and updates. Epinay’s Board of Governors is a committed team and attendance at meetings is excellent. Members devote much of their spare time to the school: attending events, observing classes, meeting with teachers and pupils, and speaking with external inspectors to ensure the school keeps on track. We undergo regular training, including online modules, in all aspects of school life from safeguarding to finance.
School attendance is closely monitored for the past two years we have aimed at targeting 94% and have achieved this. This is an aspirational target with the increasing number of children who need to attend hospital and have frequent medication reviews out of school.
Our priority is to ensure the school implements any further changes in a highly creative way that supports progress, high standards of achievement and a continued love of wanting to be in school. The curriculum has recently been fully remodelled; it is unique, innovative, effective and relevant to our SEND children. It is now embedded throughout the school and is continually being monitored in light of further government changes to assessment and the curriculum. The school continues to comply with all SEND requirements as we further develop, upskill and encourage staff to make improvements in all areas of school life.
Governors support the school in helping each child to shine, in a place that gives them room to grow, explore and become rounded, independent, young people.
All school policies are fully implemented across the school and all governors, senior leadership team, teachers and members of staff are fully briefed of any changes.
Governors attend CPD, training and annual safeguarding refreshers to ensure we have knowledge of all policies and to ensure we keep children safe at school. All policies are reviewed annually. We follow the ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ document, updated September 2021.
Governors have been monitoring how the Government’s Pupil Premium and Sports Funding grants are being spent to help close the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and their peers, as well as the impact on pupils’ fitness, health, and wellbeing across the school.
We offer a variety of interventions and programmes, which are helping pupils reach their full potential.
We hold the headteacher and all staff to account by asking challenging questions to ensure all pupils progress to the best of their ability.
The finance committee monitors and approves both in-year and three-year budget plans to ensure that the school’s finances are robust. This is led by Robert Whitelaw. The full governing board analyse and approve the budget annually, which is then closely monitored throughout the year.
A health and safety audit and single central record checks are carried out regularly to ensure compliance with current regulations.
The headteacher and governors are trained in “Safer Recruitment”. Governors are involved in the recruitment and selection of all teaching staff and use the appointment process to ensure that high quality staff, who share the school’s mission statement and aims, are appointed.
Future plans for governors
During the autumn term of the 2021/22 school year:
- We will work in partnership with the LEA to start the rebuild works required for our move to a new school site. The project leads are Robert Whitelaw, our finance governor, and Carl Buckley, who have been instrumental in getting us to this point in the process. We hope to occupy the new site September 2022.
- We will work with the headteacher in conjunction with senior leadership team to set the school’s development plan.We review the school improvement officer’s reports and challenge the headteacher to continually make changes necessary, as we strive towards excellence in all areas of school life.
This helps set out our targets and aspirations for the year ahead.
- We will continue to monitor the curriculum and ensure it is further developed throughout the school. We will continue a particular focus on reading as a school priority.
- We will continue to support and advise the school in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and will implement any changes as necessary throughout the school year.
- Securing outstanding outcomes for all of our children remains our ultimate goal and we will continue to work closely with teaching staff to ensure Pupil Premium and Sports Funding grants are spent effectively. We will also work to ensure that interventions for disadvantaged children have a positive impact on their achievements and that sporting programmes have a great impact on pupils’ fitness, health, and wellbeing.
- Safeguarding children will always be a priority and our focus will be on emotional and mental wellbeing and e-safety.
- We will continue to strengthen our links within the community by reopening our community café.
- We will continue to prepare our children for a modern Britain by promoting values such as democracy, the law, liberty, respect, and tolerance.
- These sit alongside our own school vision to create a safe and inclusive centre of excellence by providing a stimulating environment, where learners achieve.
We are always ready to listen, ready to learn together– # Team Epinay.
You can also see our Register of Business Interests via the link below.
How you can contact the governing body:
We always welcome suggestions, feedback and ideas from parents and carers. Please contact the Chair of Governors, Mrs Audrey Huntley, via the school office.