This week: Dramstock, Parent/Governors Meeting - Minutes
A short addendum to our piece on Dramstock! In last week’s Friday News – we are delighted to announce that the evening made a grand total of £591.82! Once again, thank you to all those who took part and made this happen, what a wonderful amount to be able to put towards our performing arts!
Parent/Governors Meeting – 6 February 2019 – Minutes
- Chair of Governors explained the role of the governing body, its two sub-committees, the Finance & Premises Committee and the Curriculum and Staffing Committee, its purely voluntary nature and regular meeting schedule. The function of this evening’s meeting was clarified; an opportunity for parents to meet governors, find out about their strategic role; no individual students or staff members would be discussed.
- Head teacher provided an update on the School Improvement Plan and its 2-year cycle (available on the school website):
- Curriculum & Achievement – prioritise disadvantaged and SEND pupils, outstanding careers provision and focus on variation in outcomes across subject areas.
- Learning, Teaching, Behaviour and Welfare – continuing successful transition to linear exams courses, high quality teaching, wellbeing within the school and PSHEE curriculum development in partnership with Camden Learning.
- Leadership, Management and Governance – high quality INSET and professional development, focus on middle leaders and students’ leadership development, succession planning and close departmental alignment of link governors.
- Finance, Premises and ICT – environmental improvements, tight financial leadership, use of grant income to improve building/ICT.
3. Chair of Finance & Premises Committee gave yet another bleak overview of the national school funding situation – an 8% spending reduction in real terms over the past 8 years, despite increased costs, many of these the school being unable to control (eg. national insurance/pensions contributions). School has avoided financial deficit so far through careful management. The National Funding Formula focus is on redistributing funds across the country rather than redistribution and increasing them. The National Governance Association to launch a campaign for more school funding.
Next, CSG’s Voluntary Aided (VA) status was explained; the Frances Mary Buss Trust owns the land on which the school stands – this means the school must contribute 10% of the cost towards any capital expenditure, (eg. recent extension work to the building). There is continued and mounting pressure on the Trust to raise funds: in addition to the 10% capital expenditure, it has also been donating between £30,000-£50,000 pa to the main school to help balance the books. CSG, unlike other more hard-line VA schools, does not require or stipulate that parents should donate to the Trust but relies on voluntary contributions. Parents at the meeting were urged to pass this information on.
Questions from the floor - finance:
- Where do other schools, in deficit, borrow from? The Local Authority. This is not recommended, as it results in a 3-year detailed plan for specific deficit reducing measures having to be submitted, and could lead to more serious consequences.
- What proportion of parents donate to the Trust? Number of donors has dropped to approx. 5% of current parents. Some regular donors are past parents who continue to support the school. Less than 1% of budget is raised via voluntary contributions.
- What is the school budget for next year? £6.5m across main school and sixth form.
- How secure is the Trust? The Chair of Trustees stated that she is of the opinion that the Trust does not have comfortable reserves – the question arising, what would the school do in the event of a crisis?
- Are there many philanthropic funding opportunities out there? The school regularly applies for grants, time consuming and often unrewarded (CSG has had 4-5 declined applications recently), and confirmed that a large proportion of funding opportunities exclude funds to be used within the school day or for use within the curriculum. It is a tough funding landscape. The school has the highest lettings income in the Borough, recently being used as a filming venue which was lucrative.
Questions from the floor - general:
- A’ level results at CSG are available from 9am on results day, with no online results available. Other schools offer results online at 7:30am and students have a head start in the Clearing lines. Can this be reassessed? Staff are available from 9am, and may consider a little earlier start. On results day the UCAS advisor is available all day to support students – an invaluable resource. The school believes that a considered approach to Clearing is more valuable than accepting the first thing that comes up with no guidance or professional advice. CSG believes that the vast majority of its students end up in the right place for them.
- How are the year 11 targets set? They are set by subject teachers based on the student’s ongoing progress. Targets are set to be ambitious and motivating but to try to ensure that no excessive pressure is put on the students. Target grades and mock GCSE results sometimes do not correlate and this is a well-known fact –target grades are a far better representation than mock results. Governors confirmed that they received reports of the discrepancy between target grades and achieved grades and these are very slight. In the main the experienced teaching staff get it right.
- How is student wellbeing managed through the students’ GCSEs? As one of the targets in the School Improvement Plan (discussed earlier), there is extensive wellbeing support throughout the school. Resilience, study skills, student to student chat groups, PSHEE curriculum are all included. More details on the school website.
- How much guidance are students given when choosing their options to ensure they do not choose a subject which may prove too much of a stretch, in this case music? Teachers discuss individually with students at parent consultation meetings. The school has tried holding an Options Evening in the past and the format was not as successful as individual consultations. There is also a GCSE booklet which all students receive.
Thank you to all governors, parents and staff who attended the meeting.