Held at County Hall on Wednesday 27th January 2010
Martin Sale (Chair)
Mike Grimble (Vice Chair)
Polly (Vice Chair)
Neil Collins (Communications)
Susanne Mason (Treasurer)
Clare Simmons (Clerk)
Apologies and Other Matters
Apologies were received from Becky Cordy, Andrew Digby, Martin Dutton, Carole Green, Judy Leggett, Alex Robinson, Barry Whiting and Jill Wilson.
Details of County Committee and Structure Sub-Committee meetings have been sent to Shelagh Hutson Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, her deputy Janet Murphy and Sue Platt, Senior Development Officer, Governor Services Team; they have been given an open invitation to attend these meetings as observers.
Mrs Hutson was present for the beginning of the meeting. She thanked governors for the work that they do and reviewed some current issues. Restructuring is taking place at Norfolk County Council and a consultation will be held. Governors are asked to make their views known about the service governing bodies require from NCC to fulfil their role. This topic will be covered in item 9 CS Service Improvement Board. There is concern about governor vacancies; Janet Murphy is looking into what can be done. In some schools governing bodies must ensure new governors are made to feel welcome. Stephen Adamson commented that this is recognised as a problem nationally not just in Norfolk. Martin Sale thanked Shelagh and her colleagues for their support in sponsoring awards for governors, see item 9 Schools Sub-Committee.
Election of Chair
Prior to the meeting all County Committee members had been contacted to ask for self-nominations for the post of Chair of the NGN Committee. Martin Sale was the only nomination and was duly elected as Chair. Martin explained that this would be this last year in this post and that NGN need to review succession planning: Action Structure Sub-Committee.
County Committee Membership
Martin Sale welcomed the new members to the County Committee (CC), which has the highest number of members since it was formed. The aim is to have full membership of 40 governors. Members introduced themselves and their schools.
At the AGM in 2009:-
Wendy Cleary and Mike Grimble were re-elected to the CC as representatives for the central area; there are no vacancies for elected members in the central area.
Martin Dutton was re-elected and Martin Underwood and Alex Robinson were elected for the northern area; there are no vacancies for elected members in the north.
There were no nominations for the southern area; there is a vacancy for 1 elected member in the south.
Andrew Digby and Chris Wallace were elected for the eastern area; there are vacancies for 2 elected members in the east.
There were no nominations for the western area; there are vacancies for 4 elected members in the west. Carol Creasy and Ann Higgins from the western area have put their names forward for the vacancies in this area. Peter Hart proposed that Carol and Ann are appointed CC members for the western area; Angie Johnson seconded the proposal which was carried unanimously.
The NGN CC can co-opt up to 10 additional members. The following names are put forward for consideration by the CC:-
Central Area - Stephen Adamson, Helen Hancy, Peter Harwood and Judi Holdway. (Judi has withdrawn from this post.) Northern Area - Lis Walker.
Peter Rout proposed that Stephen, Helen, Peter and Lis are co-opted to the CC; Angie Johnson seconded the proposal which was carried unanimously.
An updated membership list has been distributed. The CC has 31 members representing:
There are vacancies for elected members: 1 in the South, 2 in the East and 2 in the West.
Other Appointments and Membership of Sub-Committees
Two Vice Chairs
Polly and Mike Grimble put their names forward for the posts. Neil Collins proposed that Polly and Mike Grimble be appointed as Vice Chairs. Angie Johnson seconded the proposal which was carried unanimously.
Susanne Mason indicated that she was willing to stand as Treasurer for another year. There were no other nominations and Susanne was duly appointed A vote of thanks was offered to Susanne for her work ensuring the NGN finances are in order.
Wendy Cleary was thanked for all the work that she did in this post in 2009. Since November 2009 Neil Collins has taken on this role. Neil indicated that he was willing to stand as Communications Officer. There were no other nominations and Neil was duly appointed A vote of thanks was offered to Neil for the excellent work he has done on NGN website, newsletter distribution and governor registration for NGN information. This has done a lot to raise NGN’s profile.
Clare Simmons indicated that she was willing to stand as Clerk for another year. There were no other nominations and Clare was duly appointed. A vote of thanks was offered to Clare for her work.
NGN Manual item 10.3 Standing Orders for Sub-Committees states that the Chair and Vice Chairs of the County Committee will hold these posts for the Structure Sub-Committee.
Membership of the Structure Sub-Committee is set out in 10.3.
Peter Hart explained the workings of this sub-committee. The membership will consist of:
Deborah Brown, Peter Hart, Angie Johnson, Lucinda Poliakoff, Martin Sale, Lis Walker,
Chris Wallace, Jill Wilson
Action: Chair and Vice-Chair to be appointed at first meeting of the sub-committee. Schools Sub-Committee
Polly explained the workings of this sub-committee. The membership will consist of:
Stephen Adamson, Neil Collins, Rebecca Cordy, Carol Creasy, Martin Dutton, Mike Grimble, Ann Higgins, Frances Mott, Lucinda Poliakoff, Martin Sale,
Substitutes will be: Deborah Brown, Philip Gunn, Peter Hart, Peter Harwood, Judy Leggett, Alex Robinson, Lis Walker
Action: Chair and Vice-Chair to be appointed at first meeting of the sub-committee. Action: The Clerk will circulate the list of membership of sub-committees to the County Committee Members who will be asked to inform the Clerk if any changes are required.
Minutes of Meeting held on 01.10.2009
The minutes were distributed with the agenda. Stephen Adamson proposed that the minutes were a true record; Peter Rout seconded the proposal which was carried unanimously by all who were present at the meeting.
All items are dealt with in the body of the minutes below.
NGN Matters and Finance
NGN Reference Manual
An updated version of NGN Year Plan was circulated with the agenda.
The Structure Sub-Committee reviewed whether savings could be used for purchasing NGN display stands for conferences etc. After reviewing costs it has been agreed that no purchase will be made at this stage
Susanne Mason handed out a current budget report and explained that the finances were sound.
CC members were reminded that expenses can be claimed for travelling to meetings and for other items detailed on the back of the claims form. Receipts are required for all claims except for mileage. All expense claims for this financial year must be in as soon as possible after 31st March 2010. The closing date is 14th April 2010. Action CC Members to submit expense claims for 2009/2010 before deadline.
It was explained for new CC members that for some meetings which CC members attend on behalf of NGN expenses can be claimed from the meeting, at present these are the Schools Forum and BMPP. Martin explained that whenever Children’s Services ask NGN to provide representatives it is asked to indicate whether funding is available for members’ expenses
Deborah Brown mentioned that for some meetings you are asked to print off documents for the meeting and these can be quite large. It is assumed that the attendees are can get this done at work, but NGN representatives are volunteers. Martin Sale said that the NGN representative should ask for paper copies of these documents; if they have any problems with this let Martin know and he will deal with it.
Submitting expense claims online
Susanne Mason has discussed this with the independent examiner. It is important for security that the claim form contains the claimant’s signature and that receipts are included when required. Action: Susanne will arrange for electronic forms to be available to CC members to print off and send scanned copies for their claims which include their facsimile signature and scanned copies of all receipts. The examiner will be asked to ensure that the system is working correctly when he examines the finances.
An edition was sent out in January 2010. The next addition will be sent out by mid February to promote joint conferences and governor awards.
NGN Online Communications
Governors can register on the NGN website to be sent NGN News to their email address. This may be extended in the future, for example to conduct surveys.
Improvements have been made to the layout of the NGN website. Neil explained that he was developing a single place for governors to access information, including from external sources such as Teachers TV. Members agreed that the website now looked professional and was easy to use; Neil was thanked for his improvements which are much appreciated. If CC members have views on what further information might be included and what other improvements could be made, please email Neil - Action CC Members.
NGN News Distribution
There is concern that we don’t know whether NGN News is being distributed to all governors. Action:Martin Sale to review at NGN/GS Liaison Group on 10th February 2010
GS to ensure that Clerks, as part of their training, are advised of the need to circulate NGN News.
why a link with the NGN Website was not included in the recently published Governor Services Training Brochure
“Governor Talk” to promote NGN website and governors registering to receive NGN News
NGN Sub-Committees & Children’s Services Groups
A full list of the working of NGN sub-committees and other groups was distributed with the agenda. The following items have been raised for discussion at the CC meeting.
The minutes of the meeting of 22.10.2009 were distributed with the agenda. Martin Sale explained that the Local Authority’s use of NGN for communication was reviewed and it was agreed that each request must be dealt with on an individual basis. NGN is an independent voluntary organisation and must use its discretion to decide how best to use its resources.
NGN/GS Liaison Meeting
These meetings are a valuable link with Governor Services.
On-line Training: - Martin Sale explained that Sue Platt has put in a bid for the next financial year for on-line training for governors. All other authorities in the East offer this. We await the outcome of the bid and will keep pressing for this.
Joint Conferences: - these are planned for 13th March in Norwich and 26th March in King’s Lynn. Sue is inviting speakers. The Conference will focus on the proposals of the government’s ‘21st Century Schools Agenda’. It will provide an opportunity for governors to share experiences relating to the challenges of:- delivering the 14 to 19 agenda in secondary schools and meeting the leadership and management requirements in smaller schools. The County has been praised by external inspectors for the initiatives it has supported in partnership schools. There will be presentations demonstrating the benefits of some of the County’s successful collaborative arrangements
Expenses Policy: - Governing bodies are urged to have an expenses policy for governors; a piece was included in the latest NGN News about this. It is an important part of recruitment drive for new governors to let them know they can claim for particular expenses.
Governing Bodies dealing with Appeals: - NGN has been asked to provide GS with names of governors who can be contacted to join a governing body for a short time where the governing body dealing with appeals needs a governor who has no connection with the original decision. Chris Wallace has put his name forward for this to join Martin Sale, Stephen Adamson, Judy Leggett and Carole Green who have already volunteered If any CC Member wants to put their name forward please contact the Clerk, Action: CC Members. Personnel Sub-Committee
Peter Hart gave new members an overview of the work of the sub-committee.
Terms of Reference: - At the next meeting the terms of reference will be reviewed to clarify business undertaken and avoid duplication with the Schools Sub-Committee. Consideration will also be given to communicating with governors so they can raise issues through NGN.
Personnel On-line Handbook: - Deadlines for the online Personnel Handbook have been missed; this issue is ongoing.
Succession Planning: - CC Members were asked to consider the paper entitled ‘Norfolk School Leadership Succession Planning Strategy’. There was not enough time at the meeting to go through this. Action: Clerk will contact all CC members by email and ask them to send information to Peter Hart and Martin Sale for consideration at the next meeting.
This was part of last round of SIP visits. It should have been discussed with Head and be in SIP’s report. This strategy was developed without including governors, although they have responsibility in this area. This issue will be included at the NGN June conference to promote what governing bodies should be doing. Peter Harwood commented that governing bodies have a critical role in this and must be aware of their responsibilities. This strategy is being scrutinised by the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Polly gave new members an overview of the work of the sub-committee.
The next meeting is to be held at 4.30pm on the 23rd February 2010 at County Hall.
Norfolk Governor Awards: - Stephen Adamson reported on the progress of Norfolk Governor Awards. This committee will consider a paper produced by the working party; further work is in progress to finalise the timetable of events, with the presentations to take place late June or early July. Action: Schools Sub-Committee to take forward.
Headteachers’ training: - There are concerns that working with the governing body is not a compulsory part of headteachers’ training. Martin Sale reported that representations had been made from NGN to the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children’s Services (NCSL). The response indicated that this matter had been considered in the past but it was felt that no change should be made to the compulsory elements of the curriculum. Stephen Adamson explained that NGA has raised this issue and had sympathetic response but no action. Action: Martin and Stephen will liaise on this to share NGN written response with NGA. Members were of the view that the relationship between the headteacher and the governing body would be even more critical with the implementation of the 21st Century Schools agenda. Stephen pointed governors to the NGA website “guidance” section and the document “What governing bodies should expect from school leaders and what school leaders should expect from governing bodies” which Headteachers and governing bodies should both be aware of. It was also recognised that it was important for governing bodies to have a thorough induction process for a new headteacher so as to establish good working relationships at the outset
Attendance Issues: - Polly reported on “PA schools” which are schools where there is persistent absence which is measured as attendance rates of below 60%. The local authority visits these schools for DCSF to look at absence rates.
Polly reminded governors that Management Information Sheet (MIS) 249/09 explained that school term dates are set by the Local Authority and it is illegal for schools to close outside of the these dates. It was commented that some schools were getting different messages and this MIS was issued to clarify the situation. This does not apply to Foundation Schools.
The recent closures for bad weather were discussed. Whether the chair of governors is consulted on school closure depends on the school. The CS-School Improvement Board considered this issue as it had raised a lot of public comment. The CS Overview and Scrutiny Committee have asked for a report on this at their next meeting. It was commented that if schools open, but not many pupils attend this has an effect on absence targets.
Susanne Mason asked if governing bodies had attendance governors to oversee performance in this area. Members had no experience of such appointments but recognised that it was important for governing bodies to agree attendance targets with their headteachers at the beginning of each school year and to receive to at least termly reports showing how the school was progressing.
Cluster Governance Arrangements: - MIS 240/09 required governing bodies and headteachers in each cluster area to agree appropriate governance arrangements for cluster funding before the start of the next financial year. Children’s Services had made it clear that cluster moneys will be withheld if arrangements are not agreed. In its recent newsletter NGN had reminded governors of these requirements A discussion took place on how this directive is being dealt with. 25 schools were represented at this meeting drawn from across the County. Just 4 governors reported that their schools had entered into an agreement. 4 governors reported that some mention had been made of it but no action taken. The remainder, representing 17 schools, said there had been no discussion and no action. Some members reported that their Heads were very negative and had concerns regarding the extra administrative burden that this would involve. Many of these headteachers felt the arrangements were unnecessary. Fears were expressed that some headteachers would exert undue influence on their governing bodies to adopt Option 1 without informed discussions taking place between governing bodies. Concerns were expressed that many governing bodies were apathetic towards the issue Action: CC Members not at meeting, if your governing body has not dealt with this please let Martin Sale know.
Governance in small schools: - there is concern that governing bodies in small schools (less than 100 pupils) are finding it difficult to meet leadership and management challenges. NGN has invited such schools to make contact to explain what further support they need and a session on this is planned for the Spring Conference. Fred Corbett had promised to provide a list of small schools so that NGN can make contact Action: Martin Sale to follow up.
Norfolk Schools Forum
Carbon Reduction Strategy: - A big issue for schools in the future will be Carbon Reduction Commitment. A working group has been set up to look at the financial implications. Mike Grimble is on the NGN representative on this subgroup. A discussion took place on how to treat schools fairly when comparing how they are performing. This is in the early stages and we will continue to follow progress, Action: Mike Grimble.
Fair Funding Consultation: - Polly reported that this is going ahead including single formula for early years and SEN option.
School deficit issues: - Polly reported that 2 High Schools have gone in to deficit and other funding has been used to correct this. The Schools Forum has been looking at why this was allowed to happen. There are issues with governance, but these are not the only issues. This issue will be discussed at the next Schools Sub-Committee meeting
School Balances: - Polly reported that there will be a consultation on this shortly which the Schools Forum will comment on at the next meeting. Secondary Schools are expected to have their allowed balances tightened from 5% to 3% from 31.03.2011. It was asked if there would be a differentiation for High Schools without sixth forms and whether there would be retrospective funding. These points should be made in the consultation process
SEN Contingency Shortfall: - Polly reported that an emergency meeting was held to discuss how to take forward overspend on pupil specific funding and increase in out of county placements.
Area Partnership NGN Reps
A review has taken place of governor representation on the Area Partnerships and it has been formally agreed that in addition to parent governors (see below) one NGN appointed governor may serve for each area for a term of two years. It is necessary to hold elections for NGN representatives on the Area Partnerships. Rules for the election of NGN representatives to the Area Partnerships are on the NGN website. The result of elections was as follows:-
Central – Peter Hart reserve Wendy Cleary
North – Jill Wilson reserve Alex Robinson
South – Frances Mott
East – Chris Wallace reserve Philip Gunn
West – Chris Gillett reserve Martin Sale
Action: Clerk to update NGN website and inform Susan Saxby. Area Partnership Parent Governor Reps:
An MI Sheet has been issues asking parent governors to nominate themselves for these posts. At the closing date only 2 nominations had been received and the following parent governors have been elected: Mrs Debbie Rushen for the South and Lord Kenneth Caswell for Central. The regulations say that if any vacancies still exist a parent governor can be appointed following discussions with relevant parties. Following these procedures Anjali Stringer and Shaun Thompson have been appointed for the East. Through its newsletter NGN is inviting parent governors who may be interested in being appointed to the vacant posts to get in touch. An MI Sheet will be issued informing governors of the results and asking governors to put their names forward if they are interested in the vacant posts. These are important positions. Action: CC Members, if there are vacancies in your area please promote these at your governing body meetings.
There are expectations from the CYPP Trust Board for the Area Partnerships to show that they have involved governors in their proceedings. Action: Polly and Martin Sale will write to all Area Partnership representatives to explain this and to encourage them to refer issues through them that need consideration by the Board. Building Maintenance Partnership Pool
Peter Rout explained that the new BMP3 scheme starts on 1st April 2010 and at this point all previous contracts will be cancelled. The new prospectus should be out in February/March. MI Sheet 14/10 explains that schools not in BMPP are solely responsible for managing their own plant and equipment maintenance. Children’s Services are monitoring how schools are dealing with this. Primary schools put themselves in a vulnerable position if they carry the responsibility for adhering to regulations for statutory testing etc… BMPP is not perfect, but it has made improvements and continues to do so. Action: CC Members, ensure your governing body has reviewed the new BMPP scheme and if you have any issues you which to raise about BMPP do contact Peter Rout or Chris Gillett who are NGN representatives on this group and have access to relevant people.
CS Overview & Scrutiny
Scrutiny of Children’s Services Recruitment and Retention Strategy is being undertaken, see Personnel Sub-Committee above. Future scrutinies are to include: - School attendance; 14 to 19 take up of new Diplomas and Bullying. Action: CC Members, if you have any views you want to make known please pass them on to Polly and Martin Sale.
CS Service Improvement Board
Martin Sale explained that a major review is taking place of County Council structures as substantial savings are needed in the budget and a report has been produced. The section on Children’s Services Structures shows significant changes with no Deputy Directors and only 3 Area Directors. Lisa Christensen is keen to ensure this is responsive to user needs and will give better services. Action: CC Members, to consider report, follow link below: (http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/consumption/groups/public/documents/committee_report/cabinet250110item9bpdf.pdf )NGN will be asked to respond to the document. Action: When Martin Sale is given a deadline he will contact CC Members to put together a response. We will need to make it clear the support that governing bodies need in areas such as HR services, GS services, IT and so on. The Board has also been looking at Cluster Governance, see Schools Sub-Committee above and Succession Planning Strategy, see also Personnel Sub Committee and Overview and Scrutiny Committee above.
Children and Young People’s Partnership Trust Board
Children’s Trust Boards have been put on a statutory footing from 1st April 2010. NGN will be consulted on NGN/governor representation on the Board.
Norfolk Admissions Forum
A consultation is taking place about new arrangements for in year transfers. This is at a national level and if implemented will require funding and extra staff. Action: CC Members, please bring this up with your governing body to ensure they are aware of the consultation and consider responding.
<<<< Helen Hancy and Peter Rout left the meeting >>>>
Martin Sale reported that he and Becky Cordy had attended a meeting of this Group. It was inspiring to meet parents and see how schools are finding ways to respond to disabled parents and keep them better informed. How schools deal with this varies and the Alliance is working to help schools to provide support. The NGN will keep an informal link with this group.
Is there more that NGN could be doing in this area? The governor awards is a good start to give a positive view on governors role. Action: Structure Sub-Committee to bring proposals to the next CC meeting. Changes to the Role of School Improvement Partner
A consultation is taking place on this and will be circulated to CC Members. Action: CC Members asked to send Martin Sale their views on questions posed in this paper.
After the meeting Martin Sale became aware of a consultation paper on Parent Guarantee which was circulated to governors. Action: CC Members asked to send Martin Sale their views on questions posed in this paper.
Action: County Committee members are asked to consider the Aims for 2008/9 and to be to suggest any amendments/additions for 2010 to Martin Sale by 24th February 2010.
For details of consultations see latest NGA Bulletin Board and NGN website.
National Governors’ Association
Martin Sale explained that two members of the CC have roles at NGA. Stephen Adamson is Vice Chair and Judy Leggett is Treasurer. This gives NGN excellent access to getting our views taken to a national level.
NGA Bulletin Boards and Newsletters have been circulated.
The NGA AGM was on 7th November 2009 a report has been circulated.
The National Governors’ Association (NGA) and GO-East are presenting this joint conference entitled ‘Facing the challenges of governing this year’ This is free and open to all governors whether or not they are members of NGA. The conference is to be held at two venues: - Wyboston Lakes Conference Centre, Bedfordshire on the 30th January and the Imperial War Museum, Duxford on the 20th February. Full details are available on the NGA website - www.nga.org.uk or through the link on the NGN website
Any Other Urgent Business
Barry Whiting was unable to attend the meeting but reported that CC members may wish to know that the Norfolk & Norwich Dyslexia Association monthly Drop-ins ceased in December. Screening for dyslexia can be organised through our helpline 01379 668430 or Indigo Dyslexia 0845 347 9322. Norfolk Parent Partnership have a great deal of information and can advise on supporting/teaching dyslexic children.
Date and Time of Future Meetings ~ See table below.
DATE OF MEETING
SPRING TERM 2010 starts Tue 05 Jan 10 to Thu 1 Apr 2010