FGB Minutes 25-11-14
MEETING OF THE FULL GOVERNING BODY,
OF IMPINGTON VILLAGE COLLEGE
Tuesday 25 November 2014 at 6.00 pm in the Library
Impington Village College
Present: Huw Jones, Jake Reynolds, Martin Rigby (Chairman), Brian Harrison, Alan Rodger, Julian Mellor, David Jenkins, Rob Campbell (Principal), Jayne Green, Elizabeth Sadler, Claire Beressi Jones, Simon Guest, Valerie Hastings, Suzy Offord, Karen Momber, Rachel Pegg and Stephanie Norris.
In Attendance: Fran Difranco (Director of Finance & Resources [DFR]), Richard Spencer (Vice Principal Teaching & Learning [VPTL]), Ryan Kelsall (Vice Principal Quality Assurance [VPQA]), Katie Jarvis (Assistant Principal Discipline & Inclusion [APDI]) and Joe Greenway (Clerk)
Pre-meeting in the Sixth Form Centre Common Room
Governors and senior staff assembled in the common room of the Sixth Form Centre, the main purpose of which was to show governors the general state of dilapidation of the buildings. The DFR reminded governors that the EFA had announced a new capital funds bidding round that included amongst its priorities support for increasing the size of sixth forms and that he had been approached by Mouchel, the architect/property consultancy with whom the College most closely works, who would be prepared, on a no win no fee basis, to write a bid document based on the work they had already undertaken on preparing some basic drawings that were shared with governors earlier in the year. The closing date for submission of bids was 19 December 2014.
The DFR asked governors to note the parlous state of the sixth form buildings and commented how adversely they compared with the buildings in competitor colleges. Anecdotal comments were being received from potential students of the sixth form on how the poor facilities at IVC would be taken into account when making their choices about where to study. The DFR, with the full support of the CET, was seeking governor approval to submit a bid even at this late stage. Whilst he was reasonably confident that there would be other capital funding bid rounds in the future he could not confirm that expansion of sixth forms would ever be a priority again. He felt it was beholden on the College to submit a bid, which, if unsuccessful, would at least inform the EFA of the College’s intentions. If the bid were successful then Mouchel would have to be the College’s main architect for the project, that the maximum award was £4.0M so there would be another circa £4.0M to find and that the grant money would probably have to be spent within two years of receipt.
Governors asked whether a credible bid could be written in such a short time scale, whether alternative use of College buildings had been explored, for example, re-locating sixth form provision to the area were adult and community learning is currently delivered and whether there was any way in getting Mouchel to write the bid for a one off fee so allowing the College to tender work to other professionals if the bid was successful. The DFR responded that he believed a bid could be written in time, that alternative accommodation use had not yet been explored and that that he would have an appropriate conversation with Mouchel.
There then followed a general discussion about the proposal the consensus being that the proposal should be supported.
The Chairman suggested that governors should now gather in the library for the formal meeting and that the proposal to submit a bid for capital support to the EFA be discussed under any other business.
There were no apologies.
2 Minutes of the meeting of 23 September 2014
The minutes of the meeting held on 23 September 2014 were agreed and signed as a correct record.
3 Matters arising from the Minutes
Agenda item 8 Safeguarding Training
The Principal advised governors that a meeting to discuss safeguarding with the governor newly responsible for College oversight of Safeguarding (Clare Beressi Jones) and other staff had taken place. CBJ reported that she would soon be attending training to support her in her new role. The Clerk reported that he had been advised by Governors Services Traded of Cambridgeshire County Council, that the arrangements for the oversight of safeguarding made by the College until CBJ was fully trained in her new role were more than adequate.
4 Financial Statements for year-end August 2014
The Chairman of the Resources and Audit Committee fed-back on the outcomes of the meeting of that committee that had been held on 20 October 2014. He reported that the External Auditors advised that the Academy was:
- in sound financial health (much better than many other academies), and
- in a position for the auditors to present an unqualified audit report,
and that the College had only minor issues to address.
The Chairman of the Resources and Audit Committee commented that the process was too long and complicated and that he hoped it would be simplified in due course. He advised that a key management recommendation was that some form of internal audit of the College needs to be undertaken mid year and that the Audit Committee had agreed to MacIntyre Hudson undertaking this. He confirmed that the staff undertaking this work would not be the same as those that carry out the year end audit upon which these accounts are based. He concluded by recommending that FGB approve the accounts in their current form.
There were no comments or questions.
The Chairman of the Audit Committee then proposed the following resolution:
That the Financial Statements for the year-end 31 August 2014 are approved.
The resolution was seconded by Julian Mellor
Decision: The resolution to approve the Financial Statements for the year-end 31 August 2014 was approved nem con.
The Chairman of the Resources and Audit Committee then proposed a formal vote of thanks to the DFR, the Finance Manager and the rest of the Finance team for their very hard and clearly very good work in preparing the College accounts. This was supported nem con.
5 Developing the House System: Outcome of the Consultation
Brian Harrison left during this item at 7.20pm
The Principal introduced this item by reminding governors that in March 2014, the College discussed and consulted on the introduction of a ‘Halfway House’ for September 2014 which saw a return of ‘Houses’ (vertical pastoral groups), with students remaining in year-based tutor groups. During the discussion in March, the CET indicated it wished to see the introduction of a ‘Full House’ system (which places students additionally in ‘vertical’, mixed-age tutor groups) and this was potentially offered by Governors; however, CET felt it did not have time to prepare staff and students for this significant change. Therefore a decision to progress to the ‘Full House’ was delayed until this autumn’s consultation.
The Principal then summarised the outcomes of the consultation as given in the paper accompanying the agenda item. He confirmed that he had personally responded to every parent who had submitted comments, whether positive or negative, had met with many groups of students to gather their views and had held a staff meeting where a SWOT analysis of the full house system was conducted. Whilst he confirmed that the feedback received from parents and students was generally negative and the feedback from staff was more balanced he was strongly of the view that the key issue was one of change management. CET continues to strongly support the change to a full house system. The anxieties expressed by parents and students are wholly recognised and CET would seek to allay these in the implementation process.
The Chairman advised the meeting that it is not the role of governors in this circumstance to gainsay the professional educational judgement of the CET, but rather to challenge the process leading to that judgement. He then opened the topic up for comment and systematically ensured that all governors had an opportunity to speak. Governors expressed concern about how lessons can be learned from colleges that have already successfully changed to a full house system, how CET intends to respond to the concerns of students, how to integrate SEND students in to the new system, how to manage the possible perception of parents that their negative view of the system has been ignored, the possible disruption to Y10 and Y11 students and the management capacity to successfully introduce the system for September 2015.
The Principal and VPTL jointly responded by informing governors that a small group of students had visited Swavesey College, who have successfully introduced a full house system and upon their return were more favourable and so more such visits will now occur. They confirmed they will investigate any issues specific to SEND students and were confident that by September 2015 staff would have the skill and capacity to support them appropriately. They also stated that they hoped that the implantation plan, which will be shared with governors at the meeting to be held in January 2015, will show how any student disruption will be minimised and how staff will be trained and supported in their new roles. The Chairman stated that he is prepared to write to parents to summarise the outcomes of the debate to try to counter any misconceptions.
Following extensive discussion the Chairman called a stop to the debate and requested by a show of hands, governor support for the CET recommendation to proceed to a full house system from September 2015. The outcome of the show of hands was:
In Favour 12
Action: Principal to present an implementation plan for the introduction of a full house system to the January 2015 meeting of the FGB.
Action: Chairman to write a letter to parents about the consultation process and outcomes of the governors’ debate as soon as reasonably practicable.
6 College response to Improving Governor effectiveness including Multi-Academy Trusts
The Chairman referred governors to the previously circulated letter from Lord Nash and also the electronic links to pertinent DFE documents. He reported that the working group set up to debate the College’s response to this letter had met twice and had discussed matters such as:
- how to ensure that the governing body operates with increasing effectiveness.
- how the governing body can evolve/survive under the pressure to become part of a multi-academy trust (MAT).
- the long term future of IVC, in particular how to maintain the special ethos of IVC, if part of a federation/multi-academy trust.
- To present proposals to the FGB for approval.
The Chairman stated that is appears to be clear government policy to encourage the formation of MATs, probably to achieve economies of scale by saving on procurement, estates, HR, IT and senior management costs in individual academies. Rumours are rife that there will be a substantial reduction in education funding in the next parliament and the creation of MATs is one way to maintain provision whilst cutting costs.
The Principal reported that federation is not in fact new and that the College was approached by the DFE two years ago to see whether IVC would be prepared to manage another school. The Principal declined the invitation, as he believed that the management of IVC at the time was insufficiently robust. He also stated that the DFE could phone at any time to ask a ‘good’ school to ‘take over’ a poor school and it was his view that IVC could not refuse a second invitation. A school need not be ‘outstanding’ from an Ofsted view to be asked to do this; a good financial position was also important. It was his view that IVC must therefore be proactive and reach out to like-minded local schools to explore the possibilities of federation.
The Chairman supported the Principal and was clear that any school/college that IVC federated with had to support the spirit of the Henry Morris. Not all schools would be appropriate to partner with. There then followed discussion about how governance of the College could be made more efficient and also how the governance of a multi-academy trust could occur. Some governors were clear that the College had little option but to seriously consider the MAT route; others were content with the current governance arrangements and were unconvinced of the need for change. The Chairman concluded by saying that a paper giving options for the way forward would be given at the December 2014 meeting of the FGB.
Action: Chairman to produce a paper on the College’s response to Improving Governor effectiveness including Multi-Academy Trusts for the December 2014 meeting of the FGB.
The Chairman then proposed that as the meeting was already running late that agenda items 7 and 9 were deferred to the December 2014 meeting of the FGB. This was agreed nem con.
7 Committees Terms of Reference
Deferred until the FGB meeting of 16 December 2014.
8 Principal’s Report
The Principal referred governors to his paper highlighting the following sections:
- College Development Plan 2014-15
The Principal reminded governors that the draft College Development Plans for 2014-15 were discussed at length at the Strategy & Engagement meeting in October and are now in their final form. He highlighted that, where appropriate, the 2013-14 performance is given against the proposed success criteria for 2014-15.
Decision: Governors approved the 4 College Development Plans for the year 2014-15 nem con.
- College Executive Team
The Principal formally advised governors of the intention of the Vice Principal Teaching & Learning to leave the College at the end of December 2014 to take up a Vice Principal position at a multi-academy trust. The Principal thanked the VPTL for his substantial contribution to the work of the College over the last two years. Governors fully supported the Principal’s comment and wished the VPTL well in his new position.
The Principal advised governors that it was his intention to share the VPTL’s current responsibilities across the rest of the CET and seek to appoint a new VP by September 2015 at the latest. He confirmed that the strategic oversight of English would be taken on by the VPQA.
- The Sixth Form
The Principal highlighted for governors the reviewed and revised plan for Sixth Form Recruitment as written by the Assistant Principal Post 16.
Governors noted the Principal’s Report.
9 Minutes of Committees
Deferred until the FGB meeting of 16 December 2014.
10 Any other Business
a. Development of a new Sixth Form Centre
The Chairman reminded governors of the debate they had had at the beginning of the meeting and asked whether anyone had any more comments to make. There being none he asked if any governor was prepared to propose support for the College to submit a bid to the EFA.
Suzy Offord proposed that the College submit a bid for capital grant support for the building of a new Sixth Form Centre to the EFA, this to be done by whatever means is reasonably necessary in order for a credible bid document to be sent by the closing date of 19 December 2014.
Valerie Hastings seconded this proposal.
Decision: Governors approved the College submitting a bid for capital grant support for the building of a new Sixth Form Centre to the EFA, this to be done by whatever means is reasonably necessary in order for a credible bid document to be sent by the closing date of 19 December 2014 nem con.
The meeting closed at 8.33 pm.